Monday, November 14, 2011

Sermon on Matthew 25:14-30, for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, "Let us be found faithful"

1. Jesus’ departure and return. Amazing that Christ makes us stewards of His gifts so that we be found faithful when He returns. Keys to the kingdom of heaven. Speaking the forgiveness of sins that opens heaven to repentant believers. It also locks the gate to those who have no sorrow over their sin, or reject the Savior Jesus.

2. Stewards of our time—not wasteful or lazy, as the unworthy servant. Stewards of our treasure. Money is a gift that God entrusts to us. Put it to good use. NT teaches giving motivated out of thankfulness and joy, not begrudgingly. But should be done and developed as a discipline. Expected to put it to good use.

3. If we take something of worth that God gives to us, and we bury it for no use, then we will be found poor and faithless stewards. But if we put it to use, it will be for the benefit of others.

4. Our talents. Parable about money, but wider application intended. Different gifts, according to our ability. Not for jealousy or rivalry but service of others.

4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,

and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:1-16)

5. God’s gifts, put to use, will bear fruit. But God’s measurement was not how much was produced (successfulness) but that His gift was put to use (faithfulness).

3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 13:3-8

6. Burying your talent out of fear. Justified in his inaction because of fear? No. Rather condemned. View of God? Cruel, harsh, hard man? If that were really true, wouldn’t inaction be all the more inexcusable? Assumed the task was harder than it actually was. Even mere investment would have been better than nothing. Hands back money: “Here, you have what is yours” implies wanting nothing to do with what was given/entrusted. Profess to believe in God, but do everything to waste or nothing to honor/use what He’s given? Will that be rewarded?

7. Small catechism describes gifts we’ve been given:

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them.

He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life.

He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.

All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him.

This is most certainly true.

8. Christ has supplied us with all good gifts. Prepared us to be good stewards. His gift abounds and produces fruit. Counts faithfulness and use of gifts, not the measure of our success. Not a cruel taskmaster—only asks faithfulness with the measure we’ve been given, according to our ability and His grace.

9. What is the report we look forward to and anticipate at the end of our life? Do we wish to be left outside of God’s kingdom in a place of weeping and regret, because we were a wicked and lazy servant? Or to be commended “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.” This commendation comes by grace from God—because His gift, by His grace was put to use in our lives. We are to practice faithfulness with what He entrusts, so He will find us faithful when He returns. We labor God gives the growth. Spirit of Jesus at work bearing fruit within us. Christ’s gifts bring returns when we put them to use. If we are putting them to use, no matter how successful, whether through trials, errors, failures, and successes, we can know that He will count us faithful, because He Himself is faithful to all His promises.

Sermon Talking Points

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  1. What does the “man going on a journey” represent in this and other parables? Matt. 21:33; 25:5; John 14:1-6; 16:16-33; Acts 1:6-11
  2. What is the significance of his entrusting his property to the servants? What does he expect them to do until he returns? What has Jesus entrusted us (His servants) with?
  3. What are the gifts or talents that God has specifically given to you? (note that in the parable, “talents” refers to a measurement of money. However, in applying the parable, God-given abilities (“talents” in the other sense) are appropriately included). How are you putting your “talents” to use?
  4. Have you “buried” any of your gifts or talents? Have you used the blessings and time, talent, treasure that God has given you for your own personal gain and not for others?
  5. When the master takes account of the servants, does he measure their success, or their faithfulness? What’s the difference? If we put what God has entrusted to us to good use, do you think it matters how successful (in earthly terms) we are with it? 1 Corinthians 3:6-7. Who “gives the growth” when we labor for God?
  6. What is the reward of the two good and faithful servants? What is the punishment of the unworthy servant? The unworthy servant evaluates the master as literally a harsh or cruel man, and justifies his inaction by his fear of the master. Does the master affirm that description of himself, or judge the servant by his own words? Luke 19:20-22.
  7. Is God a harsh or cruel master? Or will He let people who already think that see Him that way? See Psalm 18:25-26 (compare translations) How would the two worthy servants perceive their master? How do we see God’s generosity and mercy toward us? How does He supply all we need to be faithful servants?

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