“But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards,” (Mt 24:48–49)
In Matthew 24:48-49 Jesus pictures one of two servants. The second servant, the one we see here, is much different than the first. Instead of remaining faithful the entire time his master is gone and taking care of his fellow servants. He does the opposite.
Jesus tells us with the master delayed in returning, the servant forgets his master and the task he has been given. As a result, he begins to indulge his flesh.
Notice he does two things:
(1) He acts unjustly – He abuses his position and those under him. Instead of taking care of and feeding his fellow servants, he beats them. He lashes out against them in violence.
(2) He befriends drunkards – Eating and drinking with them, and inevitable taking up their lifestyle – their actions and way of living.
Change Didn’t Occur Overnight
Now, I want you to understand the change in this man didn’t occur overnight. A switch didn’t just flipped in his heart so that he became corrupt. No, these things were always in his heart. They just didn’t have an opportunity to come out. You see, his master was the one who was restraining him. With his master gone, with the restraint lifted, he could act as he pleased.
So his current actions — beating his fellow servants and hanging with drunkards — was the actual state of his heart. He just needed an opportunity for that to show.
Applying It To Us
I think we see something similar in our own lives and our own churches.
Think of that kid who grew up in the church. All their life they were taught to act a certain way — Don’t be a drunkard, don’t use drugs, don’t have sex before you get married, and always go to church. While they lived at home, for the most part, they lived by those rules.
However, as soon as they moved out of their parent’s house or went off to college in another town, they started doing all the things they were told they weren’t supposed to do. They started using drugs, getting drunk, having sex with their girlfriend or boyfriend and stopped showing up to church.
As parents, we wonder why? I mean, “They were so good at home. Why are they acting this way now?”
Well, the reason they do is the same reason the second servant — the unfaithful servant — acts the way he acts.
The restraining power of the master is no longer present. When that is taken way, the heart will show it’s true nature.
That’s exactly what happened with this servant, and that is exactly what happens with kids who grow up in the church but then go off to live as if they didn’t grow up in the church.
Or you might think of another scenario. How about the church going business man who goes on a business trip and looks at porn in his hotel room, or even worse, cheats on his wife. That happens for the same reason. The restraining power of the master has been taken away and their true heart is able to come out.
The same thing with people who go off to Las Vegas for vacation. There is nothing there to restrain them. Vegas knows this so they play it up and you see that with their motto: What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
So all this tells us is that:
Our true nature shows through when external restraints are taken away.
When the outside influence that keeps our true desires at bay is no longer there, they (our suppressed desires) will come out, showing our true heart. That is what happens to the servant here in our passage, the young adult who leaves home, the businessman who goes on a trip, or the person who goes to Vegas for vacation. When the restraint is lifted, their true heart is shown.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you believe our environment can have that kind of restraint on us?
- How do you explain the teenager who was a saint at home, but a hellion on his/her own?