The Bible has many references to being a “good and faithful” servant. What must one do to be considered a good and faithful servant?
The phrase “good and faithful servant” occurs only two times in the New Testament. Both statements are found in Matthew 25.
His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.” (NASB) Matthew 25:21 and 23
Parable of the Talents
Both statements are made in the Parable of the Talents about two servants. The two servants had been given money to invest while their master was away on a long trip. Both faithfully obeyed, invested the master’s money, and when the master returned they were able to give him a financial increase. There was also a third servant who did not invest the master’s money given to him. He had buried it in the ground (a common way to safe guard one’s money in ancient times) and when the master returned, the servant had no increase to offer his master. He was not a “good and faithful” servant. He did not obey his master. The master in the parable did not call him “good and faithful” but a “wicked, lazy slave.”
The parable is really about those who obeyed and followed through. That is a great example of what good and faithful means. How did the master respond to the “good and faithful”? He gave them more responsibility. All three servants did something. The third servant I am sure thought he had done “his best.” He tried to explain, but the master in the parable did not even listen. There is a message here for us. God is not interested in excuses but in faithfulness. He rewards faithful servants with more responsibility. Claiming to do our best and not following though is not faithfulness.
Example of an apostle
One of the greatest statements in the Bible about being a good servant comes from the apostle Paul. Listen to the desire of his heart in the following comment – a statement he makes near the end of his life.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (NASB) 2 Timothy 4:7-8
How did Paul fight the good fight? It is implied in the verses just before these two.
But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. (NASB) 2 Timothy 4:5-6
Paul was serious about the things of the Lord. A good servant must be willing to suffer hardships, witness, spend time with the Lord, and serve in ministry. This is not for those who want an easy faith. It is work.
Earlier in 2 Timothy the apostle also describes a faithful servant. He or she knows the Bible, is willing to suffer hardship, avoids loving the world more than serving God, and works hard.
. . . But these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. (NASB) 2 Timothy 2:2-6