Summary: Third in a series on Matthew 24 & 25, this message focuses on the mandate to be faithful with what God has entrusted to us since Jesus is coming back and we don’t know when.
Because Jesus Is Returning . . .
I like reading bumper stickers. Sometimes you get an unusual combination of bumper stickers on one car that give an unintended message. One such combination was funny. One read: JESUS IS COMING! and the one next to it said: ESCAPE TO WISCONSIN. I don’t think that is a wise way of preparing for Jesus’ return. Today we are looking at another parable Jesus told. Each of these short stories gives us instruction on how to live because Jesus is coming back at a time we cannot predict.
While it is true that God wants us to use His gifts and to multiply them for the benefit of his Kingdom. We must also understand that we are not judged according to the quantity of the work we do for God, nor even by the success of it. Rather, we are judged by our attitude. By our willingness to do as God wants us to do, by our willingness to risk all that we have been given for the sake of the Kingdom just as Jesus risked all of himself for our sake. As Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-10 (quickview)  "God has saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."
If we reduce the parable of the talents simply to a matter of saying that we must be productive for God - or else be condemned by God. Then we miss what is so good about the Christian life. We miss the good news of Jesus Christ, the good news of the grace and mercy won for us on the cross. The good news that we don’t have to fear God or death. I believe that, in the end, if we focus on productivity, we will end up like the servant who failed to invest the talent that his master gave him because of fear. We will end up being afraid. Worried more about how well we are doing in the eyes of God than we are actually doing nothing at all. Consider the servant who buried the talent entrusted unto him. When he is asked by the master to give an accounting of what he has done with his talent what does he say?
"Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is." The servant was afraid - and he froze. His fear that he better not be unproductive led to unproductivity. Fear does that to you. On the other hand, acceptance of God’s grace, free gift of eternal life and forgiveness - leads to a freedom to serve without fear. Grace produces in us an attitude of "I gotta serve Him! I can’t help it!"
I. Facts About Being Stewards (Managers) For God.
A. What I have all belongs to God. (Vs. 14)
- I am a steward not an owner. This one fact accepted by the heart can radically change your life. 1 Corinthians 10:26 (quickview)  says, "The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it." That is actually a quote from Psalm 24:1 (quickview)  which adds, "The world and all its people belong to Him." Most Christians are able to accept that with their head, but not always with their heart. To say that God owns it all is to admit that He has the right to control it all too. He has the rights, I have the responsibilities. Stewardship is a vital truth to you to accept.