Summary: This sermon is about the gifts we have and how they should be used.
The Power of Gifts
The writer John Ortberg tells a story of the time shortly after his mother had passed away. His father was cleaning about the home and found two boxes of dishes in the attic. Not really having a use for them he called his daughter-in-law to offer the dishes to her. He said they remind him of her because they were her favorite color. Blue. Not only were they blue the outer rims had hand-painted flowers and the cups were inlaid with mother of pearl.
John could not ever remember seeing the dishes before and so he began researching their origins. What he found was that the complete set of dishes was priceless. They had been made in a factory in Austria that was destroyed during World War II. They could not be replaced. But what bothered him more was that during the entire time he had been growing up he had never seen the dishes in use.
When he questioned older members of the family he found that his mother’s family had been very poor. So they had bought the set of gift and given it to her over time. A plate for Christmas. Perhaps a cup and saucer for a birthday. And so over many years she had received the full set of dishes.
The mother had known just how important these dishes were. So each time she received one she had carefully wrapped up the dish and put it in the box. To bring it out and use it meant to risk the dish. It might get broken with use.
The daughter in law too knew the value of the dishes. She loved them so much that she used any excuse she could to make the dishes useful. She proudly used them at dinner parties with friends, family dinners, and any other occasion when they could possibly be used.
The truth is as Christians we have received a marvelous gift in our talents, experiences, even in our very lives. More importantly we have received a gift of choice. We can choose how we use what we’ve been given. We can bring it out for all to see. Or we can bury it and let it be forgotten about.
Jesus told a parable just about this sort of thing. Many of you are probably familiar with it. Let’s take a look at Matthew 25:14 – 25.
14 "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 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. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
21 "His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 "The man with the two talents also came. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
23 "His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 "Then the man who had received the one talent came. ’Master,’ he said, ’I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 "His master replied, ’You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?
I don’t think it’s any accident that Jesus calls these gifts talents. You see, in those days a talent was worth about fifteen years worth of wages. That’s a huge sum of money for a group of people that probably lived hand to mouth every day of their lives. This master was rich. By far he was the richest man in his community. Imagine for a moment just receiving more money at one time than you have ever seen or will ever see in your whole life. This a special kind of gift. It is given once in a lifetime. It is an unbelievable opportunity.