Summary: This sermon examines some foundational principles of wholehearted stewardship.
Last Sunday I began a four-week series of messages, which I have titled Wholehearted Generosity. I said that “wholehearted generosity” refers to a person who is completely and sincerely generous. Wholehearted generosity begins with wholehearted commitment, which was the topic of last week’s message.
Today, I want to look at the topic of “Wholehearted Stewardship.” As was the case last week, this week’s message will be a topical exposition rather than a textual exposition.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus told his listeners a parable about a wealthy man who left three servants in charge of substantial sums of money. To each one, he gave the instruction, “Put this money to work until I come back.” The parable gives the results produced by the three different servants. The first two servants generated 100% returns on the man’s investment, doubling what had been entrusted to them. The third servant, however, fearing his master’s wrath and unwilling to risk potential loss, had literally wrapped the money he’d been given and simply returned the sum of money to his master when he returned. The first two servants were commended for their good stewardship and rewarded for their faithfulness. The third servant, however, was rebuked for his poor stewardship and punished for his faithlessness.
This important parable illustrates the value God places on stewarding properly and faithfully the resources that he gives those who trust in him. We, like the servants, have been entrusted with substantial resources, and have been instructed to “put this to work until I come back.”
Let us read Matthew 25:14-30:
14“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 25:14-30)
While scouting locations for a popular TV series, an advance team came upon the perfect site for an action scene—an impressive house with a beautiful, large, lush, green lawn. The script called for the cars to be spinning out of control and crashing on the lawn, tearing out shrubs and mowing down flower beds. The residents of the south Florida home were so infatuated by the possibility of having their house prominently featured on a prime-time TV show that they eagerly gave their consent.
Days later, the film crew arrived and began shooting the scene. Cars driven by Hollywood stunt drivers were soon racing wildly across the front lawn, violently ripping up the beautiful grass, shrubs and flowers.
That was when a neighbor called the owner of the house—in New York!
You see, the TV scouts had asked the residents of the house for permission to film, not realizing that they were only tenants who had absolutely no authority to allow the property to be harmed, much less destroyed. Understandably, the owner in New York was not a happy man, the TV director was embarrassed, and the residents were soon looking for a new place to live.