Where’s Your Comma?

One of the many parables that Jesus told while he walked this earth was the “Parable of the Talents.” If you’re interested (and I hope you are), you can read this parable yourself in Matthew 25:14-30.

Without going into too much detail, this parable recounts how a master gave three servants different amounts of money or “talents.” Two of the servants were good and did well with their talents. The third, well, let’s just say he did not do so well. The master, being pleased with the two good servants, said to each of them, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” His words to the third servant, however, were much less kind.

One of the many themes of this parable is that those of us who consider ourselves God’s servants should utilize our time, abilities, and money to the full extent and for His glory. We should not wholly squander them, as did the third servant. Yet, while this parable addresses two extremes on the behavioral spectrum, I believe there is another behavioral aspect many of us evince. The behavior I’m referring to is doing just enough – maybe even slightly more – to get by. I know it exists, because I used to be one of those people.

There was a time in my spiritual life, when, although I would not be considered synonymous with the third servant, I fell woefully short of the two good servants. I came to realize that if I were to meet God, He could certainly use the same words that he used to describe the two good servants, but He would have to say it with different punctuation. He would have to move the comma. More specifically, He would say, “Well, done good and faithful servant.” In other words, while I was good and faithful, my life was not done well. It was just “done.” I decided then that I needed to move the comma back to where it belonged.

No matter what aspect of our life – spiritual, professional, or relational – when we don’t give our best, but do just enough to get by, we move our life’s comma. We move it from after the word “done” to after the word “well.” Whether you’re a person of faith or not, don’t you want to get to the end of your life believing that God will be able to say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? How about at the end of each year? The end of each week? The end of each day? That’s my goal (though I sometimes woefully fail).

I think we can all agree that 2020 was, to use a word that was oh-so worn out this year, unprecedented. It was full of challenges many of us never thought we would have to face. Many faced joblessness. Many faced loneliness. Many faced illness. Many faced death. It was a year that gave each of us the opportunity, seemingly every day, to choose where our life’s comma would be placed.

Many of us are happy that 2020 is behind us. We are looking forward to some sort of inspiration in 2021. Well, guess what, I hate to be the one to tell you, but it is likely that 2021 will not be all that different than 2020, at least in the near term. And even if it is, the challenge remains the same: where will you place your life’s comma?

Regardless of what transpires in 2021, I challenge you to always keep the position of your life’s comma in mind. Choose to live each day so that you can lay your head on your pillow at night knowing that your life’s comma is rightly positioned; knowing that God could say to you:

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”