I am confident that Pastor Morris and brother David delivered the message that God desired while I was in Rwanda. This Sunday I would like to close out the priority series. As a reminder the first 2 priorities were in essence internal. #1 – Love – without it you nothing we do or say will be effective for the kingdom. Your love, your agape love, your love without expectation of reward is essential. #2 – Worship – worship is not what you can get from God but what you can give to God. It is your adoration of Jesus every day.
Then we looked at #3 – Evangelism – spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ for the life eternal. Because of what Jesus did for every person, EVERY person, we are to spread the Good News of the Gospel to others. That is an outward focus. Here is #4 – Service must be a priority. Service and servanthood. Let’s let the scripture speak:
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
John 13:14-15, 17
So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Oswald Chambers writes: Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer – to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others? Or do you say, “I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice. And I want certain people watching me and saying, ‘Well done.’” It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a doormat under other peoples feet.
Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? To be totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served? Some saints cannot do menial work while maintaining a saintly attitude, because they feel service is beneath their dignity.” D. Jackman said: “Faithful service in a lowly place is true spiritual greatness.” Dwight Moody said: “We may easily be too big for God to use, but never too small.”
Jesus said in Matthew 24:46, “Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.” Service, servanthood, using the gifts given to us by God is to be our priority. Today’s sermon is not about what is called spiritual gifts but it is about using what we have been given. 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the talents gives us a practical framework for our responsibility to use what He has given us since it is a foregone conclusion taken from the Bible that service and servanthood is to be our priority. Let’s see what we can learn and/or apply in our life.
Vs. 14: “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them;” Jesus is that man, gone on a journey and he has entrusted his property to us so:
1. What we have is not ours.
Understanding this is critical to our service and servanthood. Jesus is the source of everything we have. We are not the master of our life, gifts and things – Jesus is. Jesus has delegated control of His things to us. The Lord has entrusted us with His wealth and back then as well as now we are EXPECTED to bring a return on what we have been given. We are the possessors of gifts, but not the owners. Our job is to manage what we are given. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Haggai 2:8 adds, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty.” He has the rights, and I have the responsibility. He is the Master and I am the servant.
Do you really live like you understand this? Our days are in His hands. Our gifts and abilities are on loan from Him. Our money is an “advance” from the Almighty. Our houses, cars, clothes, and every possession we have doesn’t belong to us. We really don’t own anything.
Vs. 15 “to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.”
2. We’re given what we can handle.
While a talent back then was about $300,000, today we must understand that this parable is not just about money but about our God-given gifts and supernatural abilities. So the Master gave the first servant five talents, which was about $1.5 million. The second guy received two talents, or approximately $600,000. And the third steward got one talent, or $300,000. Even though there’s a big difference between five talents and one talent, the guy who received one talent still had a lot of money. That reminds us that God gives out of His abundance to us!
Notice that each servant received talents “according to his ability.” Your responsibility is tied to your ability. God’s kingdom purposes do not operate according to what is “fair” but according to what is best. Each of us has been assigned a task. It’s our job to be faithful to what He has given us to do. You have what you have because God gave it to you. And He expects you to manage His gifts within the boundaries of ability that He has wired into you.
God trusts different stuff to different people according to His sovereign purposes. Our job is to be faithful with whatever amount we have to work with. Do we trust that God knows more about us than we even know about ourselves?
The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
3. We must invest what we’ve been given.
5 talent guy went at once and gained 5 more. He wasted no time and the 2 talent guy made 2 more. The 2 talent guys may not have done it at once, but he did work for 2 more. Then we have the third servant who just took what the master, Jesus had given him and dug a hole and in essence did nothing with his gift.
Let’s say what the one talent guy was and let’s hope that is not us or you: he was a lazy guy who went off and buried his blessing. Hiding valuables in the ground was quite common back then. It was one of the safest, and least profitable, ways of protecting possessions. Remember that our potential is God’s gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to Him. Zig Ziglar has said, “You are the only person on earth who can use your ability.” Are you investing what you’ve been given, regardless of how much it is? Or, have you buried your blessing and kept it hidden from others? Our Bible clearly says you have gifts given to you by God.
Vs. 19 “After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.”
4. A day of accountability is coming.
This isn’t an IRS audit, it is an almighty audit. This is more than just saying we have “been saved.” Our scripture clearly says that we’ll have to give an account for how we’ve used what we’ve been given. Jesus is coming again and there will be a day of reckoning. While most of us believe this in our heads, we don’t always live with eternity in our hearts. If we would think more about His return, we’d be more focused in our life on making an eternal return on our investments.
Jesus is coming again! Let’s be faithful in doing whatever He gives us to do. He’s invested something in you, and one day He’s coming back to claim it. Your job may be big or small, but whatever it is, do it to the best of your ability and you’ll be ready for your audit. Ask yourself each day: “How will this decision to serve or not serve look on the day of accountability?”
5. What we do with what we have reveals our view of God.
This is clear as we look at pieces of verses 20-25. The 5 talent guy who made 10 says “See, I have gained five more.” “See” means, “Behold” or “Look!” He was eager to invest what he had been given and now he’s excited to show the master what He had done. He’s bubbling with enthusiasm and thoroughly thrilled and couldn’t wait to present what he had done because he wanted to please the owner.
The man with the two talents had the same anticipation and excitement and the master is thrilled with both of them because they demonstrated responsibility for their ability and he says the exact same thing to both of them: “Well done, good and faithful servants! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
“Great job! Well done. I appreciate your good work and your faithfulness. And here is a promotion.” They were faithful and were called good because they had a right view of the master. Likewise, when we see God for who He is, we will want to be faithful and we’ll focus on doing good things. God is looking for faithful people, for those who properly manage their resources and gifts for kingdom purposes. Picture a smile on Jesus’ face when He says, “Come and share your master’s happiness!”
The one-talent guy came reluctantly to the master and said in verse 24: “…I knew that you were a hard man…” “I knew.” The first words were about himself not the master. This third guy had a wrong view of the master and had his mind made up even before he received his talent. He looked at the master as someone who was hard and harsh, instead of loving and gracious. A.W. Tozer was right when he said that what we think about God is the most important thing about us. If we view God as a tyrant then we’ll filter everything through this lens.
Some of you may be secretly angry with God because you think He did something, or didn’t do something that you think He should have. Your preconceived notions prevent you from seeing Him as a God of grace, and as a result you refuse to serve Him with what He’s given you. When we blame God we end up burying our blessings.
A faulty view of God can also lead to excuses. In verse 25 this man declares that the reason he didn’t do anything with what he had been given was because he was afraid. His fear paralyzed him and so he decided to play it safe. He hid the money to make sure it wouldn’t be lost, he says I won’t or I can’t. And he accomplished exactly what he set out to achieve: nothing. Like the saying goes, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
A wrong view of God always leads to fear and a right view of God always leads to faith and the courage to step out. When we have a right view of God we will: work hard in the kingdom and take risks, advance the kingdom, let God continually change our life, we will invest. A wrong view of God is shown by the 1 talent guy in that he took no risks, he did it the way it’s always been done, he in essence refused God’s gift and really had no interest in what mattered to the master. He refused to let the gift touch his life, he wasted God’s gift and saw it as a burden. He simply did nothing so….
6. What we have we must use or what we have we will lose. Verse 26 reveals that the master saw right through the flimsy excuses of the servant when he said, “You wicked, lazy servant!” The word “wicked” means “evil, hurtful, and malicious.” In other words, the master is saying, “You’re lying. In your heart, you are a selfish and lazy bum. If you really wanted to do something, you would have put my money in the bank. I see right through you.” These are pretty strong words. God will judge not merely for doing wrong, but for not doing right!
Wickedness and laziness partner together to keep many people from full surrender and service. While the other two servants were busy and working hard, this selfish one just dug a hole, little realizing that he was digging it for himself! Because this third guy did not use what He had been given, He lost it according to verse 28, it is simple.
Jesus’ words in Vs. 29-30 should motivate us to service and servanthood:
“For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
7. What you do with God’s gifts will lead to either abundance or agony in the next life.
Those who have given themselves in full surrender and selfless service will be given even more opportunities. On the other hand, those who bury their blessings will face agony. The worthless servant will be thrown “outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This description refers to hell. Those who don’t know God don’t serve Him. A lack of serving may indicate that a person has never been truly converted. That’s why Jesus referred to him as “worthless.” A believer has worth because of his faith in Christ.
A distinguishing mark of a true Christian is service and giving. A lack of service betrays a heart where Jesus doesn’t really live. A Christian who is not using what God has given is a contradiction in terms. Don’t hide the truth. Don’t bury it. Allow the greatest treasure of all ¬ Jesus Christ Himself to radically live in you in service and servanthood.
Jesus has placed His business into our hands and will return someday to judge our faithfulness. Are you partnering with Him or are you making excuses or are you too busy doing non kingdom stuff?