Luke 12:41-48 :
Peter said to him, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everybody?”
The Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the right times? Blessed is that servant whom his lord will find doing so when he comes. Truly I tell you, that he will set him over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My lord delays his coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken, then the lord of that servant will come in a day when he isn’t expecting him, and in an hour that he doesn’t know, and will cut him in two, and place his portion with the unfaithful. That servant, who knew his lord’s will, and didn’t prepare, nor do what he wanted, will be beaten with many stripes, but he who didn’t know, and did things worthy of stripes, will be beaten with few stripes. To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.
Will there be punishments in Heaven? I believe that there will be, just as there is in any functional family. There won’t be any punishments after our sinful flesh is removed, but for what we do here, I believe, we will be held accountable.
God has given some people authority to distribute what other people need in His name. I believe this includes government officials as well as all of us in the church who minister to each other. Just like Jesus says here, those who are given more ministry privilege, more will be expected of them on Judgment Day than those who were given lesser ministry privilege. This reminds me of what James said here:
James 3:1 :
Let not many of you be teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment.
Isn’t it interesting that Jesus answers Peter in such a mysterious way? He could have just said “Yes” or “No” or could have even said something like: “Yes, it includes you and others as well,” but He didn’t. In John it tells us that the disciples would later understand what He was saying and because of this, I think it is very important to interpret these things through the words that the apostles latter wrote down. We know that Jesus spoke this way because He was supposed to speak in parables according to God’s will. Also in John, Jesus starts speaking very plainly when the crowds are gone, but this passage here in Luke is probably near the time that Jesus had some of the largest crowds. Jesus was careful to always obey His Father and stick to His will. He would never get punished for anything but our sin.
Jesus is warning us about what happens to ministers who don’t do what they are supposed to do. In this very passage Luke calls Him “Lord” and writes, “The Lord said.” If He is our lord then those “who knew the lord’s will, and didn’t prepare, or do what he wanted” are in trouble. I don’t think that this passage is only talking about “eternal punishment” for unbelievers, I believe that it is probably a more general concept about those who minister in some way and fail to perform their duty. It is good for us to realize that there is an upside and a down side when we think about our future. There are real judgments at the end, not just rewards.
While we are here on earth, we do have the ability to turn around and start doing what we should be doing. We should never avoid this opportunity but turn around (repent) as soon as possible and start doing what we are supposed to do.
Parenting: Notice that Jesus isn’t against spanking. He is clearly using an example that justifies physical pain as punishment for disobedience in a household. This is not the only place where this kind of thing is written. God never advocates abuse, but He does indicate that it is abusive to not punish blatant disobedience. Abuse is a very bad thing and I believe that it is probably one of the things that will bring God’s judgment on Judgment Day, so it is important that ministers have mercy because they are expecting mercy from God. To avoid giving discipline, however, is to disobey what God’s word clearly says.