Summary: God is the giver who give gifts abundantly. However we need to make sure we take advantage of these gifts rather than being slothful towards God. Among His gifts, the greatest gift we all need is the forgiveness of sins ours by faith in our Savior Jesus
By Rev. Ryan J. Ogrodowicz
Text: Matt. 25: 14-30
22nd Sunday After Pentecost
Taking Advantage of God’s Gifts
In a Baptism we have water and the Word of God. The Word of God is mighty. It’s powerful. It creates. We can go back to Genesis to find God speaking creation into existence. God said “let there be..” and there was. In Baptism there is the Holy Name of God present, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the very Name Christ commands us in Matt. 28: 19 to baptized into. Where the Name is present, Christ is present and therefore life, salvation and the forgiveness of sins are present in the waters of Holy Baptism. It is in Baptism that Paul says in Romans 6: 4 “we were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” So there you have it: in baptism there is death and life—the washing away and killing of the Old Adam, that is, our sinful nature, and the brining to life the new man in Christ—all promises received by the gift of faith. Baptism is God’s work, not sinful man’s and it is a gift regardless of whether or not a person relies on it. God’s gifts are wonderful things but they are often rejected by unbelievers and even forgotten by Christians. That is one point of today’s text.
Three servants are given portions of their master’s property each according to their ability. Then the master goes away for a long period time. As soon as the master leaves the first servant, the servant with five talents trades with them to earn five more. The second servant having only two talents does the same thing and he too doubles his investment, earning two more talents. Both of these servants get a two-fold return on the talents they trade with. They took what they had been entrusted with and handled it properly. The third servant, the one who received only one talent, does nothing with his money. Rather than investing it he goes and hides his master’s money in a field. The text said the master was gone a “long time” plenty of time for a servant to learn how to properly manage what had been given him. He could’ve chatted with the other servants in order to get some tips on investing. Or he could’ve simply given it to professional traders, bankers who handled money all the time. A little interest would’ve been better than no interest. A little ambition on part of the servant would’ve been better none at all. However none of this happens. Rather the money remains hidden in the field throughout the duration of the master’s absence; the servant never touches it until he and the other servants are called to settle their accounts with the master. The first two servants are praised for the way they handled their master’s assets. He says to each of them “well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” When the third servant approaches his master, he can only return the one talent he had been given. His claim is that it was out of fear that he did nothing with the money. That’s his defense. Supposedly he was afraid of his master and therefore did nothing with what had been entrusted him. Even still that doesn’t stop him from calling the master a hard man and accusing him of reaping where he does not sow and gathering where he did not scatter seed. The excuse doesn’t work. And in the end this wicked and slothful servant is cast out of his master’s presence.
Friends, one day we will be called to given an account before your Master. We will stand before God and we will be judged. God’s Word is crystal clear on that. And we don’t know when. That’s the frustrating thing, right? We don’t know when our Lord will come again or when we will die. That means this could be the last sermon you ever hear. This could be the last church service you ever attend. Are you ready? Are you prepared to settle your account? What are you doing with what has been given to you? What are you doing about your sin, if anything? The third servant in today’s text says he was afraid of his master but if he was really afraid he would’ve done something---anything—with the money he had been given. Even the master says he could’ve at least given it to bankers to draw interest rather than just buying it in a field. The real truth is this servant was a slothful, lazy unbeliever. He didn’t care for his master and therefore did nothing with what he had been given. Sin makes us lazy. Sin causes us to be complacent and to forget about God. There’s always tomorrow, right? That’s the way we think. Why worry about salvation today when tomorrow’s another day? It’s okay to skip church; there’s always next week. Such is the thinking of the sinful mind and the devil would want it no other way. The devil would want it no other way than for you to think that you have plenty of time to get your spiritual life in order; therefore eat, drink and be merry. Don’t worry about the spiritual side of things. Jesus warns us about this type of thinking. The gospel reading in Matt. 25, this parable of the talents occurs shortly before Jesus is arrested, tried and crucified. The verse before this parable begins is Matt. 25: 13 where Jesus says this: “watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Jesus is about to die when he says these words. He knows His time is short and therefore He’s not pulling any punches. He wants you to be watchful and ready. He wants you to be prepared at all times. God wants you to know that you are a sinner in need of a Savior. That means going through life not taking your sin seriously, or not taking your salvation seriously is not the preparedness God wants you to have. The biggest crime in today’s reading is not that the third servant didn’t produce as much as the other two; it’s that he didn’t do anything with what he had been given. Wake up from your slumber. Pay attention to yourselves and to those around you. Do not think God takes sin lightly or that He’s simply going to look the other way at your sinful behavior because He’s not. Even your secret sins are in the light of His presence.