Session #144 Return Mindset
Scripture Matthew 24:45-51
Summary So much has been said about the return of Jesus. What do all these mean to you? Is it all just nice-to-know information to you? Or do you have a Return Mindset – a mind set on the return of Jesus? Drawing from the parable in Matthew 24:45-51, Henson shares four reasons why having such a mindset is absolutely critical.
Matthew 24:45–51 (NKJV) — 45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Our readiness for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ should be characterised by watchfulness that leads to faithfulness. We might be stirred and even awakened when we hear this, but all too quickly, our focus shifts back to what our mind is set on, our mindset. For those set on the cares of the world and such, our focus returns to such. Instead, our minds should be firmly set on the return of Christ, having a biblical and eschatological worldview that guides how we know and feel, how we live our lives. Such a Return Mindset is expressed in prudent decisions and actions that make up faithfulness.
After emphasizing his unexpected return, Jesus asked his disciples to watch, which means “being awake”, “alert”, “sober minded”, and “having a right mindset”, a Return Mindset. Such a mindset is explained in the four parables of Matt. 24 and three parables in Matt. 25. These parables describe two types of people: one with a Return Mindset and the other with no regard for the return of Christ. The good servant is rewarded for his faithfulness, while the evil servant is punished for his lack of regard for his master’s return. We have a choice on what kind of servant to be.
This parable and the subsequent three parables in Matt. 25 focus on readiness for God’s return. In this parable, we see four reasons why a Return Mindset is so important and critical. Such a mindset aligns toward kingdom readiness, lives the kingdom, understands active faith, and takes Jesus at his word.
1. A Return Mindset Aligns Toward Kingdom Readiness
The word “faithful” in v. 45 is translated in Greek as phronimos (φρόνιμος), which means “prudent” or “sensible.” Its root word phroneō (φρονέω) translates to “to think”, “to have a mindset”, and “to be mindful (careful).” How we think, understand, and process affects our conscience, emotions, will, decisions, and actions. In other words, what our mind is set on (mindset) matters. The first servant had a mind set on the return of his master, which governed the way he lived and dealt with others. Likewise, the second servant had a mind that was not set on the return of his master, which also dictated how he lived and interacted with others. When Jesus and his kingdom is not our reference point, we are misaligned. On the other hand, a return mindset aligns to the kingdom.
2. A Return Mindset Lives the Kingdom
This parable is part of the discourse on kingdom readiness in Matt. 23-25. However, kingdom readiness is premised on all of Jesus’ other discourses. You cannot have kingdom readiness without Kingdom Ways (Matt. 5-6), Kingdom Assignments (Matt. 10), Kingdom Wisdom (Matt. 13), and Kingdom Relationships (Matt. 18). A Return Mindset lives in the kingdom. Jesus’ description of the evil servant in this parable seems to be a direct reference to the religious leaders in Matt. 23 and how they treated others wrongly and badly. In this example of kingdom leadership, kingdom authority should not be abused. The Gospel of Luke’s account of the same parable uses the term “steward” instead of servant, which more directly refers to leaders (Luke 12:42). Leaders are held to a higher standard and accountability in how they live the kingdom.
3. A Return Mindset Understands Active Faith
In many people’s minds, as long they have faith in Jesus, they are ready for his return. While such a statement is correct, it is deceptive as well since it depends on what is meant by “faith.” Saving faith in this parable is more than just passive believing but active faith that leads to faithfulness. It is no surprise then that faith and faithfulness are related concepts. Faith without works is dead (Jm. 2:17). Out of what one believes, they will act. In the Gospel of Luke’s account of this parable, the evil servant is treated the same as unbelievers (Luke 12:46). In other words, unfaithful ones are considered non different from unbelieving ones. Those who profess their faith but do not live according to it are hypocrites, and God deals with hypocrisy very seriously, given its emphasis in the sermon on the mount and the 7 accounts of Jesus’ admonition of the leaders in Israel.
4. A Return Mindset Takes Jesus at His Word
When it comes to taking Jesus at His word, we often apply this to the good things such as promises and blessing. However, it also applies to the negative consequences and repercussions of going the opposite way. In the parable, the good servant is rewarded for his faithfulness. In other words, the master had provided a conditional promise of reward to his servants. Likewise, the evil servant received his due punishment. When the parable talks about the evil servant being cut in two in v. 51, it is referring to the consequences of breaking a covenant, such as that made on Abraham’s behalf by God (Gen. 15). We might also not like the consequences of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” at the end of v. 51, but just as Jesus is faithful to his promises, he is also faithful to his punishments. Also, it is worth emphasizing that judgement and punishment are as relevant in the new covenant.
May we be radically renewed to have Return Mindsets, set on the Spirit and on things above, and ever fixed on Jesus’ return! Stay Awakened, Aligned, and Assigned.