Summary: God gives each of special abilities and expects us to be faithful in using what we’ve been given. Instead of “hiding” our gifts we’re to invest them in kingdom service. There’s no getting around the fact that we are responsible for what we’ve been given
Using What God Has Given
A man from out east had always dreamed of owning a cattle ranch and had finally saved enough money to buy his dream spread in Wyoming. His best friend flew out to visit and asked, “So, what’s the name of your ranch?” His buddy told him that he had a really hard time coming up with a name that he liked. He and his wife couldn’t agree on what to call it so they settled on, “The Double R Lazy L Triple Horseshoe Bar-7 Lucky Diamond Ranch.”
His friend was really impressed and then asked, “So where are all the cows?” To which the new rancher replied, “We had quite a few…but none of them survived the branding!”
As we’ve been focusing on some ways that we can improve our serve, I want to suggest this morning that it’s possible to get so caught up in what we call our spiritual gifts that we might not survive servanthood. The key is not so much to identify what we have but to use what we’ve been given. 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
Please turn in your Bible to Matthew 25:14-30. We started this series with the words of Jesus about servanthood and now we’re going to conclude with His teaching about our responsibility to use what He has given us.
Let’s set the context. This parable comes in the section of Matthew’s gospel where Jesus is giving an answer to the disciples’ question about His Second Coming in Matthew 24:3: “…When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus warns them to be on guard so that no one will deceive them and helps them understand that once He leaves, He will come again. He challenges them in Matthew 24:44 to be ready because the Son of Man will come at an hour when He is least expected.
In chapter 25, Jesus compares His coming to the eastern custom of a bridegroom arriving in the middle of the night. He concludes by saying in 25:13: “Therefore, keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Chapter 25 ends with the separation of the sheep and the goats. Sandwiched in-between is the parable of the talents.
Notice verse 14: “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey…” The word “again” indicates that Jesus is using yet one more parable to explain future events. The man going on a “journey” is Jesus.
As we walk through this powerful passage this morning, we’ll see Seven Stewardship Lessons.
1. What we have is not ours. Verse 14 continues by saying that this man who was getting ready for a journey, “…called his servants and entrusted His property to them.” It was common for wealthy men to take long journeys. Before they would leave, they would arrange to have someone pick up their mail and feed their pets. But even more than that, they would often delegate the control and multiplication of their wealth to trustworthy employees. They were expected to bring a return on what had been handed over to them. Given the uncertainties of transportation in those days, the time of return for even a well-planned trip was often open-ended.
There was no doubt in the minds of these servants that the property and money still belonged to the master. They were the possessors, but not the owners. Their job was to manage what they were given. Likewise, we must remember that everything we have has been given to us and is not really ours anyway. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Haggai 2:8 adds, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty.” He has the rights, and I have the responsibility. He is the Master and I am the manager. I am the servant; He is the sovereign.
Have you allowed this basic principle to permeate your personhood? You don’t really own anything. Everything belongs to the Lord. Until we recognize this truth, we will not be good managers of what has been entrusted to us. Our days are in His hands. Our gifts and abilities are on loan from Him. Our money is an “advance” from the Almighty. Our houses, cars, clothes, and every possession we have doesn’t belong to us. We really don’t own anything.
2. We’re given what we can handle. In verse 15 we see that the master gave some talents to three of his servants: “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.”