Faithful and Wise Servant: Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-48
The parable of the faithful and wise servant, also called the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servants, is told by Jesus to illustrate the seriousness of being ready for Jesus' return by truly acting like a Christian.
In context, Jesus has just been discussing the fact that he will be returning at an unexpected time. For this reason, he urges his audience to be ready and watchful for his return.
In order to further illustrate the seriousness of his return, he tells his disciples the parable of the faithful and wise servant.
This parable is also sometimes called the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servants due to the contrast between the faithful and wise servant versus the unfaithful servant who is placed with the unbelievers because of his actions.
Jesus says, "Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions." (Matthew 24:46-47 and Luke 12:43-44)
However, Jesus then immediately warns them about the unfaithful servant.
He says that if the servant says to himself "My master is delayed" (Matthew 24:48; Luke 12:45), and thus begins to mistreat his fellow slaves and drink (instead of working), then: "the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know. He will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 24:50-51)
In Matthew, it says that this evil servant is placed with the "hypocrites" (Matthew 24:51) and in Luke it says with the "unbelievers" (Luke 12:46).
Jesus also says, "That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating." (Luke 12:47-48)
Jesus is teaching his disciples that our Actions Reveal What We Truly Believe. Those who are obeying God will be rewarded, whereas those who disobey God (even if they say they belong to him) prove themselves to be unfaithful and hypocrites by their actions.
It is just as Paul says in Titus 1:16, "They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions."
Jesus also teaches that those who know what is right and choose to do wrong will be punished more harshly than those who do not know. However, both groups are punished, and ultimately it's better to know and obey.
There are several other parables that communicate this idea that it is
necessary to obey God and that we show what we believe by what we do:
Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders
Parable of the Two Sons
Parable of the Wedding Banquet
Parable of the Sheep and Goats
To better understand the connection between our actions and our belief, read about the Meaning of Repentance and Salvation.
Another good article from AbideInChrist.info, is Can We Obey the Laws and Commandments of God?
For a convenient PDF/eBook version of all Jesus' parables, download Understanding the 40 Parables of Jesus Christ. This 126 page eBook also includes supplemental information for understanding these parables.