21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
One of the more delightful products to come out of Hollywood was the 1995 movie "Babe." The line "That'll do Pig..." has pretty much passed into colloquial American English, sometimes even when the person using it is too young to remember the movie.
In the closing scene of the movie, the taciturn Scottish sheep-herder, known for being a man of few words, looks down upon his pig "Babe" and commends him for gaining an amazing perfect score in the sheep trials. The last frame shows the pig looking up at the farmer with an expression of pure contentment. The crowd is going wild, shouting with joy over what they have just seen... but to the pig that is mere icing on the cake. What is really important... overwhelmingly important... is that the man, the master, is pleased. What is the worth of the crowd's praise compared to that?
What appeals to me in that scene is the delight in both parties, the pig and the man. The pig's delight is not that he has accomplished something special. The man's delight is not in the first-place prize that he will receive. The mutual delight is in the shared experience... the joy of faithful, willing obedience earning its due reward... the willing joyful commendation that comes from the heart of the master. The giving of obedience and the giving of praise constitute their mutual delight.
There are a lot of parallels here to Christian obedience, isn't there? Fundamentally it is an exercise in delight. Jesus mentions that His yoke is easy and His burden is light... and yet often the pathway that He sets before us can be among the most difficult any human being has to walk. The measure of our performance on that pathway will not be the objective outcome... like Jeremiah our calling may be to a ministry of proclamation to a people who will not hear. Rather, the measure of our performance will be our obedience in it. Are we serving from the heart, not so as to win our Lord's favor by some specific attainment that sways Him by its merit, but rather simply because we want to do what He wants us to do. We want to please Him by conforming our will to His... to desire what He desires... to place all other considerations of self first at His disposal and then to conform our will and affections such that His calling is our desire.
A person so motivated is the only truly free person on this planet. There is no question of their success because the measure of their success is to please their Lord and He cannot be other than pleased with them because their desires have been conformed to His. At the end of the day their reward will be, cannot help but be, that the words "Well done, good and faithful servant" are spoken... from the heart... to the mutual delight of the servant and the Lord. With that confidence the person is truly free because the fickle praise of men is not essentially signficant. It may come or go... the Lord's praise will not. Earthly honors become cheap trophies that sit on a shelf and gather dust. They may be awarded or they may not. It is not ultimately important.
Such a person is free to serve without earthly recognition and be content. Such a person is free to accept earthly honors and not be unduly swayed by them. Such a person can make decisions with courage because the criteria for judging is unhesitatingly understood. This is freedom and this is our heritage.
All that we have to do is herd the sheep that God gives us to herd (in whatever form they present themselves, as people, as events, as vocations, as circumstances... ) and to treat them or do with them as God has given us commands to treat or do... and leave the outcome of that treating and doing up to Him. What is the true and certain end? His and our mutual delight!
Well done, good and faithful servant... that'll do.
[published with permission from