Summary: Giving God our leftover time and resources.
Leftovers For God: Time, Talent and Money
Scripture: Matthew 6:19-21; 4:18-22;
Last week I started this message "Leftovers For God" by reviewing just was "leftovers" were as it pertained to both food and non-food. In my first message I focused on how we give God our left over time. This morning I will focus on how we give God our left over talents. Our foundational Scripture is found in Matthew 6:19-21. It says: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." As I shared with you on last week, the things that we treasure the most are the same things that we are willing to dedicate good time to. As with time, the things that we treasure the most are also those things that we are willing to use our talents for, to ensure its success. This morning when I speak of talents, I am talking about all talents, not just the ones that society and the Church deemed are important. If you have been blessed with a talent, any talent, there are ways for you to use your talents in service to God. One thing to remember, a talent can be natural – something you’re born with, or developed through life experiences. Whichever type of talent you have, born with or learned, you can use it to serve God. To get us started, let’s take a look at a few of the disciples and some of their talents.
I. Disciples Talents Utilized
"And walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ’Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they immediately left the nets and followed Him. And going on from there, He saw two others brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father mending their nets and He called them. And they immediately left the boat and their father and followed him." Matt. 4:18-22
Fishermen, then and now, formed a distinct class of people. The strenuousness of the work, (Luke 5:2-5) ruled out the weak and forced one to become patient and hard. Because the job required a very coordinated effort, fishermen had little patience for those who were lazy or just wanted to have the results with no work. Fishermen were crude in manner, rough in speech (where we get the term "cuss like a sailor" and in their treatment of others. James and John before they became tempered by Jesus’ influence were nicknames "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17). Their name gave insight into their character before Jesus. Luke 9:54 records a situation where they asked Jesus if He wanted them to rain down fire on some people and kill them. The fishermen’s exposure to all kinds of weather made them hard and fearless. They could endure all types of weather for long periods of time. They were accustomed to bearing with patience many trying circumstances. They often toiled for hours without success; yet they were always ready to try once more. When you understand the life of a fisherman, you begin to understand why such men, when impelled by the same Spirit as filled their Master, indeed became "fishers of men." The raw talent and skill that they had as fishermen would be used by Christ to save others. Their ability to work long hours; be patient in the midst of difficult circumstances; and their understanding of the water during the times when they were traveling to minister all helped them in their new found occupations. They did not set out to become fishermen so that they could later be used by Christ, they took what they had, their skills and made them assessable to Christ when He called them. They came to the table with what they had and made it available for Christ to use. They understood what the process was to catch fish; the planning and the persistence necessary to ensure success. All of these "talents" that they learned would now be freely used in a different way, to bring souls to Christ. These were unlearned men in the Scripture, but their experience has fishermen gave them what they needed to be a long-term disciple who would change the course of history.
When Jesus called Levi (Matthew) he called a man who had experience collecting taxes (Levi was a tax collector). These people were not the most honest or respected people in society as they often increased the amount of taxes a person owed and kept the difference for themselves. These individuals were often Gentiles who worked for the Roman government collecting taxes from the Jewish people. When Jesus chose a tax collector as one of His disciples, He was breaking major new grounds for this man was considered one major sinner (by trade if not by personal acts). When tax collectors interacted with Jesus, their hearts were changed. Jesus admonished them "…collect no more than what you have been ordered to." What talents would a tax-collector have for Jesus? Well one he was already accustomed to dealing with people who did not like him while staying focused on the task at hand. The disciples would also face similar circumstance but for different reasons. He was also very familiar with the Roman government and their taxes which would benefit Jesus throughout his ministry. Although he was a tax collector, he was very hospitable and penitent. His hospitality led him to invite Jesus to dinner. I would have imagined that he had a positive impact on the fishermen who were not as hospitable.