By Ken Yates
If you walk into pretty much any home, you will see works of art. There will be paintings or nicely framed prints on the walls. You might see sculptures on an end table. Many homes display in a highly visible place professionally done family portraits. As a general rule, the more expensive the house, the more expensive such displays will be.
But there are other works of art you will see. There will be drawings and paintings, crafted by the children or grandchildren, stuck to the refrigerator.
The quality of these works is not the same as the quality of the art in other parts of the home. A visitor observing the refrigerator will often not know what he is looking at. The parent will have to explain that he is looking at a drawing of a family pet or maybe a lion. A stick figure with what looks like a really large nose is the owner of the house, even if the homeowner’s nose is rather a normal size. The words written in all capital letters in crayon will have to be deciphered as well.
Monetarily, these things on the refrigerator are worthless. But to the parents and grandparents, they have great value. They know that their children or grandchildren drew the art for them. Those kids put a lot of work into these acts of love. They wanted their parents or grandparents to be pleased with what they did.
I am sure that my experience with such works of art is shared by all parents. When my children got older, and these drawings were taken off the refrigerator, my wife and I kept them. They now are found in a memory chest in our home, stored like the treasures they are. Others see no value in them, but we sure do.
DRAWING WITH CRAYONS
It occurred to me recently that this reality with parents will be shared by the Lord when He returns. In Matthew 25, the Lord gives a parable about His coming kingdom. In the parable, He goes away, but before doing so He tells his disciples to work in preparation for that kingdom. He gives each of them some money with which to do that. For people in the first century, the amount was a tidy sum. But for the Lord, because of His immense riches, it was small indeed.
A couple of these disciples are very excited about doing something for the kingdom. They “immediately” get to work with what the Lord gave them (Matt 25:16-17). The idea of having something to give Him when He comes back excites them.
In the parable, when the Lord returns, He calls His disciples to Him to find out what they have done. We can hear the excitement in their voices. They say to Him, if I could paraphrase, “Look at what I made with what You gave me!” They each had doubled what they were given (Matt 25:20, 22).
In their own eyes, they had done great things. A doubling of the money they had been given was impressive indeed. For them, it was a lot of money. They could look upon it with great satisfaction.
But what about the Lord? How would He value such things? Compared to His riches, what they brought to Him was nothing. It would be like a picture done by small children with crayons.
THE LORD’S REFRIGERATOR
If we compare the coming kingdom of God to the house of the Lord, what a house it will be. We are told that Christ will inherit the universe. His rule will include everything. What riches will be His!
If we look at this “house,” how would we describe the art work found in it? What priceless objects would He be able to hang on the walls? Even in the OT, we are told that we can give nothing to God, because He owns it all (Job 41:11; Ps 50:10). Try to imagine what it will be like when Christ sits upon His throne after He returns. Imagine the walls in the palace of the King of kings.
When we see the two faithful servants in this parable, how quaint they appear. They are thrilled to offer this King their works of art, things they have done with their own hands. They want Him to see what they have made.
Surely, the Lord will not be impressed. I have no artistic ability at all. If I were told to draw a landscape and take it to a fine arts studio, I would be laughed out of the building. But that is what these two servants are doing, offering their pitiful works to the One who owns everything.
The reaction of the Lord is at first surprising. He lavishes praise upon them (Matt 25:21, 23). He is proud of them. He rewards them.
I know it is only an illustration, but I look at this as if the Lord had a refrigerator. He takes what these two servants do and sticks their works on that refrigerator. All who come into His palace will see what they have done. A visitor might not understand how Someone that great could value something that seems so small.
But these servants are His children. Maybe only parents with children would understand.
When children make something for their parents, they don’t realize how worthless their work is. I remember that when I was in the second grade, we made a Christmas gift for our parents. My dad was in Vietnam, so I made something for my mom. I took an empty salad dressing bottle and painted it orange. I put sprinkles on it and stuck a long candle in the opening. I couldn’t wait until my mom opened that gift on Christmas morning. I knew she would love it.
And she did. She told me it was the best Christmas present she had ever received. I was giddy. For the rest of the time we lived in that house, until my dad returned from Vietnam, that awful looking candle remained on a shelf in the living room of our home. I don’t know what happened to it after that. My guess is that she kept it in a memory chest.
If we stopped for a minute and thought how meager our works must be in the eyes of the King, we might come away thinking there is no need. We might even think that such work would be met with scorn from Him. What we do for Him in raising our families, serving in the church, or trying to please Him in our areas of responsibility seem so insignificant in the light of His glory.
But He has told us that is not the case. Never in the history of the world has a kid made something for his parent thinking that parent would rebuke him for it. The child does not approach the parent in fear. He knows the parent will be pleased. It never occurred to me that my mom would have said that my candle was the ugliest thing she had ever seen and then thrown it into the garbage.
Isn’t that what we see in the parable? Even if the servants in the parable paused to think about how rich and great the King was, it did not deter them from working for Him. They knew He would be pleased.1
He indeed is like a parent with a refrigerator.
Ken Yates retired as a Lt. Col. from the Army after 20 years as a chaplain. He and his wife, Pam, live in Columbia, SC, but will soon move to Indianapolis to be near their grandkids. Ken leads the GES international ministry.
1 Of course, the Lord was not pleased with the third servant (Matt 25:24-30). Why? Because the third servant did not have a return on investment. There was no crayon drawing, no candle in a bottle, nothing. The third servant pictures a believer who fails to persevere in His service for Christ (cf. Luke 19:20-26; 1 Cor 4:1-5; 2 Tim 2:12; Rev 2:26). If a believer is unfaithful, then He will be rebuked by Christ. But even then, his eternal destiny is secure. Compare Luke 19:20-26 with Luke 19:27.