Before we draw conclusions as to what a Christian’s relationship to other professed believers should be, we need to examine this story carefully. One of the things we need to see is that although in this case Jesus said that the one who is not against us (and him) is for us, it does not follow that there could never be a case or circumstance in which a person could be opposed to Christ’s kingdom.

Discipleship is personal, but it is not personalistic. It always involves our relationships to others who also profess to be disciples. But are they disciples? As I ask that question I am not referring to those many people in the church who are essentially like us - ethnically, denominationally, or in terms of our particular religious experience. We do not have trouble with these people, because affirming them is really just affirming ourselves. When I ask, "But are they disciples?" I am referring to people who claim to be disciples but who are different from us. I am asking: How should we regard them? What should our relationship to these disciples be?

Earthly treasure is perishable. Frequently it fails to last even in this life; it certainly will not go with us into eternity. So what are we to use it for? The answer is that we are to use possessions to do good so that those good deeds will themselves produce treasures for us - not on earth, but in heaven, "where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matt. 6:20).

We have an excellent example of the danger of wealth in Christ’s story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man did not perish because he had possessions; not a word in the story condemns him for his wealth. Nevertheless, we cannot escape seeing that there was some connection between his wealth and his neglect of those matters of mind and heart that would have led to salvation.

Because the things we possess are given to us by God, it follows that we are accountable to him for how we use them. This is what the parable of the talents is about. God distributes his gifts unequally - one servant has five talents, another two, a third one - but each is nevertheless equally responsible for the proper use of what he has been given. The man who is judged by Christ is judged, not because he had one talent rather than two or five, but because he did not properly use that one talent he had. So will we be, if we fail to use God’s gifts properly.