What to Do to Hear “Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant”

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If there is anything that people love to hear it’s approval for a job well done. It gives you confidence knowing that you are performing or have performed at a high level. It also gives you the encouragement to keep going and to continue in what you’re doing. In Matthew 25:23, a king gives his servant what I call the ultimate well done. This is what the king told his servant:

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

I am sure you can feel the excitement in the heart of the servant after hearing the results of his job review. What I want you to consider is what is the meaning and context of well done, good and faithful servant? Why does this matter so much and how can you apply this to your life?

The Journey to the “Well Done” in Chapter 25

Matthew was written by (surprise) – Matthew. Some translations title the book The Gospel According to Matthew. This was Matthew’s biographical account of the life of Christ. The early church fathers attributed the writing of the book to Matthew. There are some critical scholars who question whether Matthew is the author. Though we can’t say with one hundred percent certainty, there is good evidence and reasons to trust the testimony of those in the early church and attribute the writing of the book to Matthew.

Matthew was a tax collector, which means he worked for the Roman IRS, and those people were not well liked. However, the tone of his book was written to a Jewish audience with the purpose of announcing the arrival of their King and Messiah, Jesus Christ. Matthew bridges the gap between the Old Testament and the New especially with his genealogy that traces the Jewish lineage of Christ. He was writing to proclaim their Messiah is here.

The conversation in Matthew 25 is a continuation of a discourse which began in the previous chapter. The disciples asked Jesus a question in Matthew 24:3 “’…Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’” Jesus answers their question by telling them the signs to look for that would signal the end of the age and his ultimate return. After telling them these things he then proceeds to tell them two parables. The purpose was to keep them focused because they would not know the hour when Jesus would return. The one associated with our topic is the parable of the bags of gold. 

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them” (Matthew 25:14-19).

Remember how this conversation started. Jesus is telling his disciples what will happen at the end of the age. This sheds incredible light on this parable. Let’s define the people in the story and give some analysis.

A man going on a journey – That’s Jesus who will go away for a while but will return.

His servants – His disciples then, but you and I now.

His wealth – The message of the gospel and the kingdom of God.

Each of these men were given responsibility according to their own ability. Some were trusted with more but no one was given more responsibility than they could handle. Two of these men went to work, one of them didn’t. The two men put their wealth to work doing the work of the kingdom, preaching the gospel and making disciples. As a result, they produced fruit.

One man was lazy and did nothing with the gospel. He didn’t share it and did nothing to produce any fruit. After a while the master, Jesus, returns and calls these men to give account for what he has entrusted them with. Here is the response of the man who received five bags of gold:

“The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more’” (Matthew 25:20).

The man who received two bags of gold had the exact same response, you gave me two, here are two more. With this in mind, the meaning and context of Matthew 25:23, well done good and faithful servant makes perfect sense. Here is the verse again:

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

Three Qualities of the Good and Faithful Servant 

1. Recognize Your Responsibility

Before Jesus left and ascended into heaven, he left his disciples three commands: Preach the gospel, make disciples, get power from the Holy Spirit so you can preach the gospel and make disciples. These are the most important responsibilities of every Christian.

You and I are tasked with being the light of Christ and sharing the gospel in our circles of influence. We are tasked with helping other believers grow in their walk, which is discipleship. We are also tasked with doing this not in our own strength but with the power of the Holy Spirit helping us. Some of us will have bigger circles of influence or larger bags of gold, but we are all given the same responsibility.

2. Recognize Your Ability

The beautiful part of this story is that each man’s responsibility matched their ability. In other words, there are no excuses. To some people, God will give the ability to reach millions with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To some people God will give the ability to reach a few with the gospel. Notice however that both men got the same reward.

If you want to be a faithful servant, then take whatever you have and offer it faithfully to the Lord. It’s not about how much ability you have, it’s what do you do with it.

3. Recognize Your Accountability

In our story the master left for a while and then came back. Jesus is going to come back and one day we will have to give an account. The question will be what did you do with what I gave you? By the way, this doesn’t mean you have to go into full time ministry. It means that whatever position God calls you to in life, you are required to impact that place with the gospel. Be salt and light wherever you are. This is your responsibility and Jesus will hold you accountable for it.

Be Faithful Right Where You Are

The well done is not just reserved for pastors, teachers or for those who serve in the church. A gentleman I knew in church not too long ago passed away. He never preached from the pulpit. He never taught in a Bible class. He was just a regular member to the casual observer. At his funeral countless numbers of his co-workers all told the same story – this man loved Jesus and loved people. He was always encouraging, smiling, joyful and shining the love of Christ every single day on his job. No, he didn’t reach millions but he was faithful right where he was.

I left that funeral inspired and motivated because his life was an example of a job well done. The good and faithful servant is the one who will take this mantle and make a difference right where they are.

Your Eternal Reward

There is one meaning of “well done good and faithful servant” that can’t be overlooked. That is the reward. If we return to the verse notice this key line:

“Come and share your master’s happiness.”

I know that the verse also says you have been faithful with a few things and you will be ruler over many. That is fine and wonderful but I believe the real joy comes from knowing that you have made the master proud. Is there a greater joy in life than knowing that you have brought happiness to the heart of Jesus, because you have been faithful to do what he has asked you to do? This should be the driving force of our life, that we would make him proud of the lives we have lived.

I hope you have gained a better understanding of the meaning and context of Matthew 25:23, “well done good and faithful servant.” When you think about hearing your well done then, you have to start working towards it now. Think about what your responsibility is and don’t worry about whether it is great or small, that’s not what really matters. Just be faithful in the places God has put you in and one day you will hear…well done.

Clarence Haynes

Clarence Haynes