In the parable of the talents (Matt 25:14-30) we have three servants (literally, slaves) who get some money. The first two are faithful and make more money with what they received and are rewarded. Not only did these servants use their money but they didn’t hesitate to give it and their earnings back to the master. The third is the one who draws more attention because he has a remarkable discussion with his master. It is remarkable because it reveals an attitude toward his master that many people have toward God. He believed his master to be a person who basically took what he wanted and was harsh with anyone who crossed him. He didn’t want to get punished in case he lost the money entrusted to him, so he buried it.
We can find similar attitudes elsewhere in the Bible. Some people party and think God is totally against that so they don’t want to have anything to do with him (Job 21:12-15). They won’t pray to God because they don’t think it will do any good and they won’t serve him.
Others will go through religious rituals like fasting (Isa 58:3-4) but they become disillusioned when God doesn’t do what they want. The problem isn’t their ritual, but their belief that outward acts of piety are the only things God rewards when their inward sinfulness and other behavior is not abated.
Then there are people who blatantly engage in evil and believe that their worship of other Gods is what has provided for their prosperity (Jer 44:16-18). Today we would be serving our selves instead of God. When reproved, they say they will not change because their evil has done more for them than doing what is right.
Paul sums it up well, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:7-8). As unbelievers our view of God is distorted and actually evil. When we are saved, we don’t always get our understanding of God right. We keep some of those old images where we believe if we mess up, God will get us. The third servant certainly thought that way. All our live we may have heard that God was blood thirsty and would slaughter people without good reason. Then we become believers and love Jesus but are afraid that the Father is a tyrant. Our view of God needs to be renewed by reading God’s word. We need to see how long God put up with evil before he punished it in the Old Testament. We need to see his compassion expressed in his word, both in the Old and New Testaments. We need to understand that he has adopted us and we can turn to him as a loving Father, not a mean old man. Yes, he disciplines us, but it is for our good so that we can become holy (Heb 12:10). We need to remember just how much he loves us. He showed that love by letting Jesus die for our sins so that we could become his children.