Summary: Who are we when no one is looking?
It was the first weekend my parents were leaving my brother and I alone all weekend. They were going away with friends. I was 13 or so and my brother would have been 15. And boys will be boys. My brother who was quite a bit taller than I am, he’s 6’6” now, came into my room and was just picking a fight. You know, the “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you.” And we started roughhousing and in the process, my brother Jeff fell into the hallway. His rear end went through the wall and left a pumpkin sized hole in the drywall, ripping my mother’s new wallpaper. There were a few moments of casting blame, after all he came into my room and was hassling me. There ought to be justice right? But then we realized we were in major trouble. And with no way to fix the problem, our doom was sealed. And now that I have spoiled it for you teens, lets look to the Scriptures. Why did I tell you that story?..While the cat’s away…
Beginning in verse 14, Jesus tells the story of a man who went on a journey and left his property, his valuables with 3 men. In verse 15, Jesus said the man gave one man 5 thousand dollars, one man 2 thousand dollars, and the last man one thousand. A talent is worth more than a thousand, but you get the point. Not insignificant amounts of money.
The man left, and the implication is that he asked the men to increase his wealth somehow. The one with 5000 earned 5000 more, the one with 2000 earned 2000 more, but the one with 1000 (v.18) dug a pit and hid the money.
And then comes accountability time. The master returns beginning in verse 19, and rewards the first two men for being faithful with a few things—so faithful in fact, that he gives them much more to manage. And in verse 24, the man who took no risks, who dug the hole to preserve the money but not increase it, was called in.
His explanation was less than satisfactory and the master took the 1000 dollars from him and had him thrown into the street, calling him a worthless servant. Jesus said all this to describe the kingdom of God. Welcome! What are we missing here?
But what really is Jesus trying to say here? I always thought that Jesus meant:
--I have to produce for Jesus
--that probably means I need to be constantly soul-winning
--that if I’m not good enough, Jesus will throw me out
Have you ever thought that? I have. But I think that is an inadequate understanding of the passage. First of all, we have to look at the context of the parable. Jesus had just finished telling the parable of the ten virgins awaiting the bridegroom with their lamps. Some had not prepared and did not bring enough oil and when the night came, they were not ready for his return.
We can see a similar theme in our parable. The master or bridegroom is away, he will be returning, but no one knows when. The question is, are we ready? And in our parable, did you do something with what you have received?
Let me make it even more plain. I think that Jesus was saying:
--I am going back to the Father
--I am leaving you with the Good News—Matthew 28:19
--I am leaving you with the Holy Spirit—Acts 1:4
--Some will be given more, and frankly more will be expected
--Some will be given less, but even that should be guarded and increased
--There will be a day when the Master returns—Acts 1:11
Jesus gives this parable in the context of end times. There will be a day of reckoning. We will be held accountable for the gifts we have been given. What did we do with the salvation that has been extended? Have we accepted it or are we toying with it? Have we really entered into that relationship with Christ, or are we comfortable being near those who have?
That is clearly in play in the parable Jesus told. You recall at the end, the one who did nothing with the resources God gave him was thrown out into the cold. So using kingdom resources wisely, namely salvation and the gifts God provides, is crucial.
But here is the pivotal question that I want to ask you this morning: “Who are you went no one is looking?” Because right now the master is away, but as Jesus said, no one knows the date or the hour of his return, and I suspect it will come when we least expect it.
Who are we when no one is looking? That question will define our Christian experience, it will define our witness, and it will define every relationship we have with others, not to mention God. And you know, we can all put our best foot forward at times. We can snow people into thinking we care, that we love them, that we are godly. But live with someone long enough, and their true colors show forth.