Summary: God has given us gifts, talents and opportunities, and he wants us to use them in his kingdom work.
If there is one message of importance we need to hear today, it is responsibility. We are raising a generation taught to believe that we can escape responsibility for our actions. One of the Andy Griffith episodes begins with Andy and Barney finding one of the farmers in town on the side of the road with the produce from his truck strewn in the road. As they stop to help him clean up the mess, they begin to question him about what happened. He tells them he was sideswiped by a young fellow driving a fancy convertible. As they proceed down the road, they come upon this young man. When Andy begins to question him and ask for his license, he makes it evident to them that he is privileged. His father is some big wheel in the state and can have just about anything he wants, including, as he says to Andy, “that junior G-man badge” he is wearing. These threats do not deter Andy from carrying out his responsibility of arresting the young man and detaining him a couple of days until his hearing. As soon as the young man arrives at the jail, he uses his one phone call to call his father. He does not reach him, but tells his secretary to find his Dad’s attorney to come get him out of this fix. In the intermediate time, Andy takes him fishing and to his home for Sunday dinner. After dinner, Andy and Opie are sitting on the front porch while Aunt Bee and Barney are preparing to fix homemade ice cream. Opie says he had something to tell Andy, something he hopes would not make Andy mad. He tells of how he had accidentally broken a window on the back porch of one the town residents. Andy responds to the situation: “Promise you won't get mad. You will not get an allowance until that window is paid for.” Opie agrees and then makes his way to help with the ice cream. The young fellow tells Andy he thinks he was quite hard on Opie. He said he should have bailed him out. Andy disagrees. He says if he bails him out now, before long it will be something bigger and he will have to bail him out again. He says Opie has to learn to stand on his own two legs now. And you see, it was a wonderful lesson in that for the young man, for his father had made a habit of bailing him out of situations. Thus he had not learned responsibility. As the episode ends, the attorney of the young man's father arrives and tries to pay Andy off. Andy refuses and says he will have to remain in jail until the trial. It is then that the attorney brings in the farmer who in turn tells Andy that the wreck was his fault. It seems the attorney promised him a new truck if he would lie so the charges would be dropped. As the young man watches this scene unfold, it obviously dawns on him that he had never learned to take responsibility for his actions. He chooses on this first occasion to remain in jail that he might learn to take responsibility.
Jesus tells in this parable about two servants and responsibility. One servant knew his master's will but did not do it. His was deliberate disobedience. His punishment would be severe. The second servant was also disobedient, but he did not know his master's will. Therefore, his disobedience was not willful. He disobeyed out of ignorance. Jesus reminds us through the parable that we are responsible for obeying his commands. Those who know his commands and still disobey will be punished severely. Those who do not know the commands and yet disobey will still be punished but not as severely. In both situations, we are responsible. According to the Bible, our rights are matched with responsibility. Our opportunities are matched by obligations, and our privileges are matched with duties. Like the speed limit, we are responsible for obeying whether we know what it is or not.
As we think about how this relates to our stewardship, we see that we are responsible for our stewardship opportunities. God gives us finances, time, talents and gifts and we are responsible for using them in a way that pleases him. The Bible reminds us that all people will one day stand before God and give an account of our stewardship. With this in mind, we need to be responsible stewards.
I. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OPPORTUNITIES
This responsibility applies to churches and individuals. God gives opportunities to individuals and churches to use the knowledge, gifts and talents that he gives to them. Every one of us today has gifts, talents and abilities that are God-given, and God expects us to be obedient in using them. Churches have the same because of the people that make up the churches. Churches, then, are responsible just as individuals are.