Summary: This sermon deals with a difficult parable of Jesus and challenges us to do well with what God has given us.
Sermon for CATM – “Questions of All We’ve Been Given” – October 4, 2009
When you think about your life, when you consider who you are, how you live; when you really think about it, what do you think of your life?
Now there are some common mistakes people make when answering a question like this. The most common mistake we can make is the one that others make when they look in at our lives from the outside.
One of those mistakes, one area we can stumble on when considering the quality of our lives, is to think about material wealth.
I recall when Barbara and I were first married and I was working long hours and she was working long hours and we were living very simply, I recall never feeling “in want”.
We had very little and we worked very hard for it, but when I would look at Barb, when I would consider my friends and family, I could never honestly say that I felt poor.
And when we first had children and Barbara’s unpaid work was raising the kids, and I was working four jobs to keep our heads above water, I never felt, for a moment, that we lacked anything important.
We had each other, we had God, we had our children, we had this church community which has always meant the world to us.
Talking to lots of people over the years, I’ve found that, other than feeling that periodic stress when there’s too much month left at the end of the money, material wealth doesn’t have a lot to do with the actual quality of life.
Quality is best measured in relationships, in how meaningfully our lives touch the lives of others. And HOW we touch the lives of others depends directly on what we do with what we’ve been given by God.
Our parable today, the third in our current series on the Parables of Jesus, looks at that question.
Here now the Word of the Lord: Congregation reads Matthew 24:14-30
Matthew 25: 14 "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.
As Jesus begins this parable, He may be alluding to or talking about his own departure, His own journey to glory via the cross.
15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
It’s interesting that Jesus talks so much about money in his parables. He really does. If money matters much less than relationships, why do you think Jesus uses money in His parables? [Money is very practical; it’s not philosophical so as to be hard to understand. Our attitude toward money reveals much about us: Luke 12:34: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.]
Jesus is talking here in this parable about different amounts of money, rather than ‘talents’ as we think of them. One talent, the largest unit of accounting in ancient Greek currency, is worth about what a day-labourer might make in 20 years.
One talent is a lot of money. Two talents is a lot of money. Five talents is a lot of money. In any case, the master entrusted what he owned to his workers, his servants, in a way that he knew they could handle.
Each was given something valuable, and none of them was given obvious instructions about what they were to do with the money. The master then went away.
16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Immediately two of the men grasped that they had been given the money for a reason. They had not been directed to bank the money or invest the money, but they understood by the nature of the gift that they had been given an opportunity to increase it.
The master/owner respected each of them and trusted they would know what to do with what they had been given.
Let me ask you this:
Do you believe that what you have, you’ve received from God? Do you understand that God owns everything on the planet and has given us the health and strength and intelligence to care for or steward what He’s given us?
Do you cleave to what you have, insisting that it is yours and yours alone? Or are you generous and open-handed toward others with your time, your energy and, yes, your money?
And do you see the potential in what you’ve been given? Do you have the gift of gab, as an impressive man with addiction problems that I met this week had?