41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12: 41-28 (ESV)
When I read this I can’t help but to think of pastors, those whom Jesus has set up as stewards of the mysteries of God. (1 Cor. 4:1) These are the ones God has given the task of feeding the sheep to. We give what is needed when the time is right, law when the law is needed, gospel when the gospel is needed. There is no formula for this, but the gospel needs to be there.
I see it. Today “the church” is in bad shape. Myself, I think it is too often the case that it is in bad shape because the shepherds themselves have become to worried. They start beating the sheep with the law, and applying too little gospel. I sometimes shake my head and marvel at how much the shepherds beat themselves as if they earn heaven by abusing themselves. This can’t be. Yes law is needed, it is needed to bring repentance. But it can not over shadow the gospel, because without the gospel there will never be repentance. We are told to repent and believe, because the sin is unbelief. You can’t repent of unbelief without actually believing, and you can’t believe if the Gospel isn’t preached. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing the Gospel, Christ crucified of which Paul would know nothing else among the Corinthians. Where there is no faith, there is no repentance. Where there is faith there is repentance, and so the gospel must be preached. Only with the gospel will the servants be ready. If you deprive them of the gospel, than you are a drunk glutton, living off the servants and beating them with the law.