Summary: Each servant was motivated to serve in their own way because of their perception of their master and was rewarded accordingly. What can we learn about our relationship with God from this parable?

This sermon was preached by our Family Minister, Scott Jewell, as a part of our Youth Sunday. It was preceded by a series of short skits that portrayed a modernized version of the Parable of Talents. The compiled video of the skits can be found at the following link:

Jesus often used parables as a teaching device. A parable is a story involving the physical things of earth to teach a spiritual lesson about the kingdom of heaven. You may have noticed that we reversed the order of the servants use/non-use of their talents as we performed the skits. We did this for two reasons:

1. It fit the flow of the service better.

2. It allows me to finish the message on a more positive note.

You see, our perception of God motivates our response to His offer of salvation and results in our just reward.

Let’s begin by looking at the one talent servant. His perception of his master was that he was a hard man, reaping where he had not sown, gathering where he did not scatter seed. Was he accurate in his assessment? Probably not. Notice he said, “I know,” not “I saw” or “I have evidence that.” It’s quite likely that someone, possibly another servant, maybe even a competing master, had been in this servant’s ear and convinced him that his master was not the man the other servants knew him to be. He had a poor perception of his master.

We see a lot of people who have developed a poor perception of God today, not because they did the research but because they listened to someone who claimed to be in the know. It starts with an attack on the Bible- it’s written by men, full of contradictions. Ask the person to show you the contradictions and most likely they’ll answer they don’t know, it’s just what they’ve been told. So offer to discuss any “errors” they may find.

Others declare God can’t exist because so much bad happens in the world. They point to the natural disasters, disease, wars, and other calamities and ask how a good God could exist. First, how could we know good if there is no bad to compare? Second, the bad we see is the result of choices made by people, not created by God. God created good, bad is the absence of the good He created.

Still others declare that God created me with my desires so it should be okay for me to pursue whomever I feel attracted to, after all, God would want me to be happy. However, the science isn’t backing up this idea of God made me that way. There are often environmental factors that have impacted choices we make and we shouldn’t try to justify what God has explicitly condemned.

These misperceptions lead to fear as the motivator in one’s life. Look at the one talent servant. Because he didn’t understand who his master was, he buried the talent he was given out of fear. He had other options. He could have put the money to work like the other servants. He could have deposited the money in a bank to earn interest. Instead, because he feared his master, he hid the talent in a field until the master returned.

People who have a misperception of God are often motivated by fear in how they respond to Him as well. Sometimes it’s a fear of the unknown- because they don’t understand God they hold Him at arm’s length. Sometimes it’s a fear of change- they recognize that there is sin they’d rather hold on to instead of putting their trust in God. Sometimes it’s a fear of letting go of control. It can be difficult to allow someone else to have control over your life, we like to be in charge.

Unfortunately for those who are motivated by fear due to a misperception of God, there is a just reward. At the end of the parable, the one talent servant had his talent taken away and given to the servant who now had 10 talents. He was then cast out into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Whenever the Bible makes reference to weeping and gnashing of teeth, it’s describing the worst kind of mourning possible. It’s an utter despair that will never find relief. The same is the reward for those who turn their back on God’s desires for their lives, they will find themselves eternally separated from God. We don’t want to be a one talent servant.

Let’s turn our attention to the other two servants. I’m going to lump them together because their stories are identical, outside of one being given 5 talents and the other 2.

These servants had a proper perception of their master. They recognized that their master knew them. It wasn’t favoritism that led to the master giving one servant 5 talents, another 2 talents, and another 1 talent. Rather, he knew their abilities, he knew what they could handle and acted accordingly. Not only did the master know his servants, he trusted them. He gave each of them a nice sum of money- it’s estimated that a talent was worth about 20 years wages- do the math. I can’t imagine having a boss hand me that much money and tell me to put it to work while he’s gone, yet that’s exactly what this master did with his servants.

As followers of Christ, we recognize that God knows us inside and out. He knows our abilities and we are told in Ephesians that He has gifted each of us with exactly what we need. Also, the almighty, all-powerful God has trusted us with His mission. He sent His son Jesus to live on this earth, set the example, died and rose again, then returned to heaven. In His absence, He gave us the Holy Spirit and commissioned us to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching all that He had commanded.

Having this proper perception of God makes us properly motivated to serve by love. We see this in the servants as they put their money to work. Each of them doubled what they had been given.

I see a lot of this in our church today as well. Here are some examples from just the past couple weeks. Yesterday, we had a work day here. While some were cutting down trees and others were cleaning out and organizing storage space, I was tasked with painting the handrails. It was funny to me that several people commented that I got the worst job. My back had been sore, so I didn’t have to do any heavy lifting by painting. Each person served in their own way and a lot was accomplished.

That afternoon, I got a phone call from Curt. He and Deena work hard behind the scenes to have things ready for us to worship. He called to clarify some of my cryptic notes to make sure everything was just right. There are so many others who do things behind the scenes as well, it’s not just about whoever is up here speaking, but our collective efforts.

Then I received a text that Elizabeth’s academic team had asked her to pray for them before their match. They asked her because they’ve seen her faith and they know that her father is a minister.

While I was at the county track meet, I saw Hannah helping with events even with her broken finger. Caleb has had leg injuries that prevent him from running for now, but he was out there as a manager for his team with a smile on his face as he encouraged his teammates.

Eddie recently found himself in a situation while playing with friends that one of the boys tried to pick a fight with him. The boy provoked him, taunted him, then began to push him, even knocking Eddie’s glasses off. But because Eddie is trying to be a witness to his friends, because he’s trying to live out his faith, he resisted the urge to fight back.

I could go on and on about the things that happen at this church and I’m very proud of the things I’ve been hearing about our youth in the community. But we’re going to keep moving here. As you can see, a proper perspective of God motivates us to serve out of love. This results in a just reward.

Look what happened to these two servants when the master returned. He was pleased with their results. The master praised them both, allowed them to keep the money, and asked them to share in his joy. The servant who then had 10 talents was rewarded with a bonus talent when the one talent servant had his buried talent taken away.

As we are motivated to serve out of a love for God, we can also look forward to the reward. The day is coming when Jesus will return and gather His followers. I look forward to the day when we no longer talk about these words but actually get to hear them from the mouth of God- “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have done well over a little, I will trust you with much. Enter into your master’s happiness.”