Summary: Stewardship based on the parable of the talents
One of my favorite stories is contained in an old issue of "The Guidepost Christmas Treasury." I have told the story before but for me is it like one of those bed time stories that you could listen to over and over.
It is the story of a young man named Paul. It was the Christmas season and Paul had received a special pre-Christmas gift from his brother. It was a beautiful brand new automobile.
On Christmas Eve, when Paul came out of his office, a street kid was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. When Paul went to get into the car the kid asked him, "Mister, is this your car?"
When Paul replied that it was, and that his brother had given it to him for Christmas, the boy said, "You mean your brother gave it to you, and it didn’t cost you anything? Free, for nothing? Gosh, I wish..."
The boy hesitated and Paul knew what he was about to say. He had heard it many times over the past few days. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the boy said jarred Paul all the way down to his toes. "I wish" the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."
I like this story because it takes me by surprise. I realize that more often than not I would prefer “to have a brother like that” than “to be a brother like that.” I like this story because deep down in my heart I really wish I did have the desire to be a brother like that.
What about you? Which would you prefer to be said about you; that you had a brother like that or that you are a brother like that?
This story about the young boy and the question I pose are not that far removed from the teaching we find in Matthew 25.
Notice in the story that Jesus told that all three servants are similar. Each was a recipient of a gift. None of them had done anything to deserve or to earn the gift. There was no sense of entitlement, in fact even though they were expected to use the gift, the ownership remained with the master.
We fast forward to the end of the story and an accounting is made of the servants. Two are described as “good and faithful” and one is said to be “wicked and lazy.”
I think we realize that the servants in this story represents each of us and the master? Who is the master? God.
The purpose of the story is to push us to answer the question, “Do you want to be like servant 1 and 2 or do you want to be like servant 3? What do we want God to say about us?”
I think most of us would hear what Jesus said, we would point to the first two servants and say, “I want to be a servant like that!”
What went wrong with this third servant? We have to go to the end of the story in order to see what the problem was.
Listen to what the servant said to the master in verse 24
‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
The problem for this servant was that he had a total misunderstanding of the nature of the master. He had his mind made up about the master even before he received his talent. He thought the master was harsh and did not care about anything as long he got his due. This servant did not really know the master. He just saw the shadow of the master and built his whole life on a faulty premise.
What is your understanding of God?
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 us may be secretly angry with God because we think God did something, or didn’t do something that we think He should have. As a result, our view of God is skewed. Our preconceived notions prevent us from seeing God as a God of grace, and as a result we refuse to serve God 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 the third servant 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.