We all love compliments. We all want to be acknowledged and appreciated. We spend our energy trying to be noticed for our professional accomplishments, material accumulations, acumen, intellectual ability and personal appearance. We go through life looking and longing for words of affirmation and recognition.
What are the highest words of praise and commendation you could be given? What is the greatest compliment you could ever receive?
Jesus gave us the answer to these questions. He reminded us that the most important words of commendation we can receive will not come in this life. The one compliment we should live and long for only comes when this life is over. It is the compliment that potentially comes when we stand before Him in eternity to give an account of our lives. It is an affirmation reserved for people who have met certain spiritual requirements in their walk with Jesus.
In the Parable of the Talents, recorded in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus spoke of three men who were given talents, gifts and responsibilities to steward for their master. The master promised to return, and when he did there would be an evaluation of how each did with what they had been given.
When the master returned he discovered that two servants had acted wisely and responsibly and one had not. To the two who had fulfilled the master’s expectations a simple but powerful compliment and commendation was given:
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! … ‘” — Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
This compliment contains a significant lesson for us. It tells us what Jesus considers to be commendable.
If we want to get the greatest compliment of all from Jesus, there are some things we need to understand as His followers:
- Jesus is looking at and evaluating what we do with our lives. Notice that Jesus did not affirm the men with the compliment, “Well said!” or “Well thought!” or “Well intentioned!” No, He said, “Well done!” We cannot expect to hear these words “Well done!” from Jesus unless we have “done well!” Real faith changes our actions — what we do.
- Jesus is evaluating our attitude toward serving. Notice the last word of the compliment, “servant.” Both of the men who were affirmed by their master understood and fulfilled the highest call of all — the call to serve. They did not lived for their own interests, but lived for the interests of their master and others. To get the greatest compliment of all, we too must be servant-hearted. Serving must become our motivation and pleasure.
- Jesus is measuring the substance and quality of our character. We find two important words in the compliment the master gave to these men — words describing their character. These men had been “good and faithful.” The word Jesus used for “good”is the Greek word “agathos.” It speaks of many things including “rightness, moral virtue, kindness and generosity.” The word Jesus used for “faithful” is “pistos,” which refers to a person who can be counted on, someone who is consistently reliable; a trustworthy person who demonstrates integrity and loyalty in life responsibilities and relationships.
To qualify for the greatest compliment of all, the ultimate compliment from Jesus Himself, we too need to focus our attention and spiritual efforts on these things!