Summary: Sermon processes three life principles drawn from the Parable of the Talents.
In 1967 a vibrant seventeen-year-old girl, named Joni Eareckson, dived into a Chesapeake Bay and hit bottom. The accident left her paralyzed from the neck down. How do you process an event like that in someone’s life? What do you do when you are the most capable, hardest worker at your job, but the boss gives the promotion to somebody less qualified and less diligent? Jeanie and I attended Bible School together in Texas before we were married. Two sisters, Becki & Debbie attended with us. They got married in a joint wedding to two other students in the school. Both young brides were full of hopes and expectations; both couples stepped into full time ministry. One husband turned out to be a faithful, caring man who served on the mission field for several years with his wife. The other husband turned out to be a pedophile. How do you process the difference in experience?
My purpose in this chapter is to give you three life principles that serve as points of reference in processing the events of your life. Actually Jesus gave us these principles in one brief story, the Parable of the Talents. Perhaps the most profound literature in all the world is found in the parables of Jesus. In them Jesus communicates vital wisdom for navigating your life journey. For example, the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) reveals the heart of God toward people. If a person can really understand the message of that parable, he or she will without hesitation go to God for help, no matter what is going on in his or her life. To do life successfully, you’ve got to know God for who He actually is. That brief story reveals what God is really like. The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) communicates the difference between superficial religion and authentically loving people. Genuine faith proves itself in action toward the needs of others (James 1:26-27). The Parable of the Talents tells us what life is all about, why we’re here, what we’re supposed to be doing while we’re here —and Jesus does that in just a couple of paragraphs. Isn’t that amazing?
Come with me to the Parable of the Talents and open your heart to what God would show you today.
"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money” (NIV).
The first thing we notice is that the master (who obviously represents God) did not give each man the same amount. He gave one man five times as much as he gave another. And here is the first principle of life that we need to understand.
I. Life is NOT FAIR
A talent represents a great amount of money. It is worth approximately 6000 denarii and one denarii was a normal day’s wage. So, one talent is fifteen to twenty years’ wages. Even the man who got one talent, received something very significant. Often when this parable is preached, the message focus is on one particular ability you may have that must not be wasted. But I believe the talent represents everything you have—not just a couple of abilities that we call talents—it’s everything. It’s your family heritage, it’s your friends, it’s your physical body, it’s your health and strength, it’s spiritual revelation, it’s the favor you have that gives you influence, it’s the doors of opportunity that open to you, it’s your musical ability, it’s your IQ. God has handed you a package in life, metaphorically represented here as talents.
But, let’s talk about the inequalities in the packages. Jamie Johnson is heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune. All Jamie had to do to be worth $ 600 million was to be born into that particular family. He didn’t have to do one day’s work to get it. Can you imagine how much overtime you would have to work to get your finances on an equal footing with Jamie Johnson? How many Dave Ramsey principles would you have to apply? Jamie got it and didn’t have to do one thing to get it. Something in me says, “That’s not fair.” William James Sidis was born with a phenomenal intellect. By the time he was two years old he could read English. At four years old he was typing original works in French. He entered Harvard when he was twelve and graduated cum laude before he was sixteen. His IQ was somewhere between 250-300. He was given twice the IQ most of us have. Something in me says, “That’s not fair.”