Summary: Looking at a parable from Jesus to encourage to begin the year with the end in mind.
Begin with the End in Mind
January 3, 2021
When you have a large family meal and the food is finally ready . . . maybe it’s the turkey or a ham or whatever you eat at big gatherings . . . it’s all ready, and every one is called into the room to eat, but there’s one problem . . . the table is not at all ready. The dishes, silverware, napkins, cups, nothing’s out. Nothing’s ready!
Generally that doesn’t happen does it? We get everything ready as we are preparing the food.
In the same way, when you get in the car to drive somewhere . . . most likely you have a destination in mind. If you don’t, then you are as they say, on the road to nowhere. Maybe that’s kind of obvious. We might do it on a Sunday drive into the country, but really we do have a destination in mind, don’t we? It’s to arrive back home.
But when we really think about it, most of us don’t really have an end in mind when we start our days. We just start. As we start the year, I want to spend a few minutes talking about this phenomenon.
Really, if it’s so obvious that we should have the end in mind, then the haunting question really is - - - why in the world do so many of us struggle to set a destination? If we don’t have an end point, then the journey becomes a lot more difficult.
The Roman philosopher, Seneca, who lived when Jesus did, and died in 65 AD, wrote this in his work, On The Tranquility Of The Mind - - -
Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view.
That’s a pretty insightful statement. And that idea is mirrored in Stephen Covey’s famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In the 2nd habit, Covey talks about this viewpoint, of beginning with the end in mind. He claims if we want to be effective in anything we do, we need to have this in mind.
And I believe beginning with the end in mind is important. We can measure any decision against whether the outcome will move us closer or further away from our goal. An ending is a real destination, it’s tangible and concrete.
They say by January 18th most people have given up on New Year’s resolutions. But if we begin with an ending in mind, if we have a goal, something concrete, then we have a better understanding of what we’re aiming at. And we are much more likely going to reach that final destination with joy and satisfaction, than when we are shooting aimlessly.
I say that with a parable in mind to start our year. Jesus told lots of parable and the point of telling these parables is that they are exaggerated stories that didn't really happen, but you tell them to make a point.
Parables are hidden land mines, and you don't know what they are actually talking about until the end. The parable we are going to look at has the same point in mind. Jesus' parable — is this -- begin with the end in mind.
We are starting a new year, and I want to challenge you to begin this new year with the end in mind.
Since Thanksgiving we’ve been celebrating Advent, the coming of Jesus. We set up Christmas trees, nativity scenes, sung and listened to Christmas music about the Son of God coming into the world for us. That’s great! Even though many families didn’t get together this year, we could still have quiet celebrations about the birth of Jesus, our Savior.
Yet, when you look through the Bible, we see more written about Jesus’ second coming than we do His first coming. We believe He’s coming back. And we’re closer today than we were yesterday, and closer than we were in 2020. So, what do we do while we’re waiting?
Jesus answered that question in this parable. It’s from Matthew 25. I’m going to read the first few verses, then we’ll fill the rest in along the way - - -
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.