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What Does 'Well Done Good and Faithful Servant' Mean in Matthew 25?

What Does 'Well Done Good and Faithful Servant' Mean in Matthew 25?

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so not I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” Matthew 25:23 NLT

Humanity’s search for encouraging words can lead us to great things. When we are diligently guided by Christ Jesus, placing Him at the center of our lives and allegiance, we are able to experience the providence of God in surreal ways. God created us in His image with a specific purpose. The gifts and talents we’ve been given are no less coincidental! We are meant to bring glory to God in the way He has specifically designed us to. In a world built on the comparison, searching for affirmation in all the wrong places, we can easily get caught up trying to accomplish someone else’s purpose or work to develop gifts we were never meant to have. The parable of the talents shows us how to live with what God has given us until Jesus returns.

Bible Story of the "Good and Faithful Servant"

Matthew 25:19-23:

"Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.' And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'" 

This passage is part of the Parable of the Talents, where a master departing on a journey trusted his servants with talents to invest; these talents were equal to a large sum of money. explains, "From the Greek word tálanton, it was a large monetary measurement equal to 6,000 drachmas or denarii, the Greek and Roman silver coins. It was the largest unit of currency at that time. The denarius was a standard silver Roman coin and equal to a day’s wages." So just one denarius was a day's wages, and one talent was equivalent to 6000 denarii, which is quite a lot of money to be given. The master gave five to one servant, two to another, and one to the final servant. The servants with five and two talents doubled the money entrusted to them, but the servant with one talent dug a hole and buried his sum to keep it safe for the master. The master returned after a long period of time to check on his investments. While the master was pleased with the servants who doubled the sum and told them, 'Well done, good and faithful servant,' he was displeased that the third servant wasted the talent given to him by burying it and not doing anything with it.

The Gospel Transformation Bible comments, "Jesus instructs his disciples to be ready for his coming at all times. This is the point of the parables in 24:43-25:13, all of which focus both on the uncertainty of the time of Jesus' coming (24:44, 50; 25:5, 19) and the importance of being busy about doing his will (24:42, 46; 25:4, 16-17, 20-23, 27). The parable of the talents demonstrates that, despite the sometimes fearful imagery of the preceding parables (24:51), Christians are not to understand them as admonitions to live in fear of his coming (25:25). Instead, they are to make the most of the opportunities and resources God has given them (25:16-17, 20-23, 27; see also Eph. 5:15-17; Col. 4:5). The focus is not on one's level of performance (Matt. 25:21, 23) but on faithfully and thankfully responding to one's relationship with God (25:24-25)."  

What Does it Mean to Hear 'Well Done Good and Faithful Servant'?

Similarly Paul says to Timothy, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:14

Paul wrote to Timothy of what we have been entrusted with. From the Parable of the Talents Matthew records, we gain insight into how to live with what we are entrusted with. “We are to use our time, talents, and treasures diligently in order to serve God completely in whatever we do,” the NLT Life Application Bible explains, “...For most, it means doing our daily work out of love for God.”

The NIV Application Commentary explains that the parable is not about how much the servants earned on the investment “but on faithful responsibility in living up to one’s potential and giftedness.” We need to be reminded, in our quest for independence and achievement on this earth, we are on earth to bring glory to God … not ourselves.

So what does it mean to hear 'Well done good and faithful servant'? It means through faith given to you by grace, you lived the life given to you for God and His glory, not yourself.

What Is the Context of Matthew 25?

Jesus often taught in parables to help His followers and us today understand how we were to live until He returned. “This parable describes the consequences of two attitudes toward Jesus’ return,” the NLT Life Application Bible explains, “The person who diligently prepares for it by investing his or her time and talents to serve God will be rewarded. The person who has no heart for the work of the Kingdom will be punished. God rewards faithfulness. Those who bear no fruit for God’s Kingdom cannot expect to be treated the same as those who are faithful.”

Jesus has given us everything we need to accomplish the Father’s will on earth.“‘Talents’ come from Jesus,” John Bloom explains, “Some are given more, some are given less, but all are given much.” In Christ, we have all that we need. The Holy Spirit, living in us, will help us to understand God’s Word, and translate our prayers to the Father when we are having a hard time understanding what is happening and why. Moody Bible Commentary explains: “Whatever levels of abilities Jesus has given, His followers will be held responsible for faithfully making gains corresponding to the amount entrusted to them- no more, no less.”

We are not asked to accomplish anything on this earth He has not already set in motion for us to walk into. But, the providence of God does not mean our lives are set on autopilot …His providence, His Holy Spirit in us …is meant to set us on fire to bring glory to God with our everyday lives. Everyday life is who we are, right now! He seeks to meet us right where we are at, and walk with us as we accomplish the “more than we can ask for or imagine” He has planned for us.

What Does the Bible Say about Faithful Servants?

“For we live by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Faith, as Paul referred to it in the above verse, means “conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT, a conviction of belief respecting men’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it.’ Faithfulness is defined as “lasting loyalty and trustworthiness in relationships.” Our God is relational. The word faithful, in the context of the parable recorded by Matthew, means, in the original Greek translation, “one who trusts in God’s promises; one who is convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead; one who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation.”

The love of the Father is powerful enough to drive our lives to places we would never think possible. But we have to be willing. I’m reminded of the man at the pool in Bethsaida, whom Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” Jesus is all we need. Do we want to be well? Do we want to accomplish big things in the name of Christ Jesus? If we are willing, God is faithful. “While works will not save a person,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “one must never think that works are inconsequential.”

The way we live our daily lives matters. This is the heart of Jesus’ parable. We have a choice in life- to work hard or to let laziness wash over us. “Christians gripped by providence have built hospitals, ended slave trades, founded orphanages, launched reformations and pierced the darkness of unreached peoples,” Scott Hubbard explains, “some hear that God reigns over all, they reach for the remote, kick up their feet, take sin a little less seriously, bury their talents six feet under.” We have the choice, daily, to choose Jesus. When we choose Him, we acknowledge the path will seem impossible at times and require blood, sweat, and tears along the way. But we know that because He is the ultimate promise keeper, it will be worth it to share in His joy. The joy of the Lord is our strength, by which we accomplish things on this earth we were designed to execute by His will.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV

The parable of the talents reminds us to seek Jesus when we are afraid we can’t accomplish what we know we’ve been asked to. Or, when we aren’t sure what He’s called us to do at all …this parable encourages us to seek Him first, not run and hide. To face the world with Him, not bury ourselves in the many excuses the world has at the ready for us to embrace. What Christ asks us to do will sometimes seem unreasonable and unachievable. Every disciple who experienced the joy of Jesus can relate. Many martyrs have gone before us, and many will continue to follow. We aren’t all called to lay our lives down in that specific way … but we are called to be willing in whatever He calls us to do.

Additional Sources:
NLT Life Application Bible. Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright 2019.
Moody Bible Commentary. Moody Publishers. Copyright 2014.
NIV Application Commentary. Copyright © 2004 by Michael J. Wilkins.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Digitalskillet

Meg BucherMeg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ at megbucher.comShe is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” “Glory Up, The Everyday Pursuit of Praise,” “Home, Finding Our Identity in Christ,” and "Sent, Faith in Motion." Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay home and raise her two daughters …which led her to pursue her writing passion. A contributing writer for Salem Web Network since 2016, Meg is now thrilled to be a part of the editorial team at Salem Web Network. Meg loves being involved in her community and local church, leads Bible study, and serves as a youth leader for teen girls.