Summary: Being faithful and taking risks with what God has given us to steward in the service of His Kingdom
What You Do With What You’ve Got
Matt 25:14-30: July 27, 2003
I’ve titled today’s sermon “What You Do With What You’ve Got,” and if you’re Calvin, my favorite comic strip character, what you “do” is entertain us with what you’ve “got” which is a wonderful perspective on life. For example:
We’ve been spending the summer looking at how Jesus described the Kingdom of God, by studying some of the parables He told. The reason is simple: living in the Kingdom of God is what our lives need to be all about. The Kingdom of God, according to Jesus, is what we are to “seek first” – it is to be the thing we seek above everything else. It is to be the thing we live for, we make decisions based on, we commit to and pursue. To see God’s Kingdom come, as Jesus taught us to pray.
So we are seeking God’s Kingdom together. Seeking to understand what it is like, how it means we are to live, how we are to relate to God and to each other and to our world. Our church vision is about seeking God’s Kingdom – we seek it in a festival of worship, we seek it in community that nurtures growth towards fruitfulness like a greenhouse, and we seek it for a world that is broken and dying through the picture of a hospital.
It is all about God’s Kingdom – which is the reign of God in our lives today. So what is God’s Kingdom like? We’ve looked at how God’s Kingdom might look small and unimpressive like a seed or a small pearl, but is priceless and full of power and worth giving up everything for. We’ve seen how God’s Kingdom is one of incredible generosity and grace, which makes all of us equal before God. Last week we saw that God’s Kingdom is about forgiveness – which we experience from God and must then pass on to others who have hurt us.
Today we are going to see that God’s Kingdom is about us being faithful and taking risks with that which God has made us stewards. Turn with me to Matt. 25:14-30.
Does anyone remember last week’s currency conversion lesson? A “Talent” was the highest currency value, equivalent to about 6000 day’s wages, or roughly $600 000 today. The “Master” hands these huge sums of money – 5 talents ($3M) to one, 2 talents ($1.2M), and 1 talent ($600 000) to the third, with the obvious assumption that they would use them, “according to their ability,” to increase the value of the Master’s estate. And then the Master leaves.
As the story continues, we learn that the first two double the money given to them. We need to understand that this would have been normal performance, and something that the servants should have been able to accomplish in that economy – it wasn’t extraordinary, super amazing results. So of course the Master is pleased and rewards them for doing their job.
The point of the parable is in the contrast with the third servant, who as we read took the cash and buried it in the ground, and then experienced the wrath of the Master.
That is the basic plot of the story. So what does it tell us about the Kingdom of God, which we are to be seeking to live in and seeking to see become a greater reality in our world?
The “interim” time is to be productive
We recognize the “Master” as Jesus pretty quickly, and it is clear that the time between the “going away” and the “returning” is the age that we are living in now. It is the time between Jesus’ first coming to earth and His second coming to earth. We recognize that at the time of Jesus’ second coming, there will be a period of judgment, or “settling of accounts” in the language of the parable. We know from other passages of Scripture, including the one that follows this one, that the most important thing at that point in time is whether or not we know Jesus and He knows us – that is the crucial question. But this parable teaches us that there will be another question as well: “what did you do with what I gave you?”
And just to be clear that this is not a salvation-by-works kind of thing, or a reward-for-good-deeds kind of thing, let us assert from the start that what we are given is this: life in Christ – new life, abundant life, Spirit filled life – and a response that pleases God is one that multiplies that life. We are given freedom, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the power to live as God desires, and – and this is the key – we understand our responsibility to actually live that life in our world and see how it multiplies and God’s Kingdom grows. With that life comes gifts and abilities for sharing that life, more to some than to others – the point is that we use what God gives us.