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Sunday, July 23, 2017 am

 

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR TALENT?
Matthew 25:14-30

 

Today I want to examine a parable we refer to from time to time.  It was spoken by our Lord the week of His betrayal and crucifixion.  It is found in the midst of His teaching on judgment and accountability.  We want to notice some lessons from the parable of the talents.

 I.                     The Account

a.       A man prepares to go on a journey and calls for three of his servants.  He entrusts each of them, according to their abilities, with talents (a large sum of money) to manage while he is gone. 

b.       While he is gone the servant who received 5 talents traded with them and gained 5 more.
Likewise, the one who received 2 talents received two more.

c.        But there was a one talent servant who went and hid his talent in the ground.

d.       The lord returned and settled accounts.  The 5 talent and 2 talent servants presented their earnings.  Each was told, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.”

e.       The one talent servant came and gave back the talent he had buried.  He told the lord that he feared him because he was a hard man.

f.         His lord answered, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.:” (25:26-27)
Then the one talent he had received was taken from him and given to the servant with 10 talents.

g.       Jesus taught, ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (25:29-30)

 

 II.                   Lessons and applications

a.       This is about the kingdom of heaven.  As Jesus taught, the parables give us knowledge into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 13: 11-13)   They help us understand spiritual things.  In this parable we learn some things about entering the kingdom of heaven.

b.       Each of us has “talents”.  
It is interesting that the term in our text was reference to a large amount of money, yet the same English word means an ability that one has naturally or has mastered.

The Lord has given each of us these abilities and He expects us to use them wisely.  We are stewards with whatever we have.
In terms of serving God, our talents means our abilities.   There are 3 servants, but two categories:

                                                   i.      Talents used – the 5 & 2 talent servants.  Clearly they had abilities and utilized them to their fullest.  That is why the lord who returned commended them so.  
As Christians, be reminded we are supposed to be busy, and be doing our very best.   We have emphasized this continually in our studies over the past few years. 
Colossians 3:23, whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58 – we are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord
James 1:25 – it is the doer of the work who is justified
Ecclesiastes 9:10 – even Solomon with his wisdom noted this.

                                                 ii.      Talents hidden – the 1 talent servant.

1.       Consider his misconception of his lord. He described him as hard and shrewd.  Could it be that that his master was demanding and expected the best?  Consider how he treated the faithful servants. 
Isn’t it interesting how when one wants to make excuses for failures they emphasize the worst in others?
How many today believe the demands of our Lord are unreasonable.  They believe the sacrifice our Lord demands is too much.  Having to attend services regularly, giving up sinful behaviors (and He gets to determine what is and is not sinful), etc.   In reality, far too many want to get by with doing just enough. 
But our jaded perception of our Lord does NOT change who He is. 
1 John 5:3 tells us His commandments are not burdensome. 
Matthew 11:28-30, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

2.       Consider how he was afraid.  How often does fear keep us from doing what we ought to be doing?  Fear of failure, rejection, or the POTENTIAL consequences of whatever it is we ought to be doing.  The doubts we have as to being successful.

3.       He failed to see that what he could do was needed and expected.  It is clear that he did not have as much ability as the other servants.  But that is NO excuse for not doing what you CAN do.  Paul deals with this specifically.   Esp. 1 Corinthians 12:14-18 where he notes every part of the body is needed and it is where God has set us.   In vs. 22-24 he notes the “weaker” and “less honorable” and “unpresentable” parts are just as important.
We ALL have “talents” and God will judge us based upon what we do with the talents we do have!

Note: a thought not fully addressed in this parable is underused talents.  Let us suppose you are a 5 talent servant but you choose to only use 2 of them.  Considering what scriptures say about giving our best, we cannot expect to escape accountability, if we are not trying to do our best.

4.       The sin of omission is just as serious as sins of commission.  The one talent man did NOT do what he was capable of doing.  James 4:17, Luke 12:47
To God one like this is wicked and lazy (vs. 26) – two qualities that will separate one from God. Note Matthew 13:41-42 – the same fate appears to the lazy man and “all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness.

c.        How do we determine our talents?

                                                   i.      Realize that not everyone has the same talents.  Different people have different abilities.  In fact, we are diversified and that is a good thing.  Romans 12:3-8.  The challenge is to determine what we can do.

                                                 ii.      Some are easy to determine – one’s natural abilities.  There are some who seem to be naturally blessed with the ability to encourage others.  Some have wealth (think of how the Bible says to use your wealth).  Some seem to be mechanically or materially talented – they can make and repair things.  Some have the ability to lead the congregation in worship.

                                                iii.      Some are developed sometimes these are described as hidden talents that need to be brought out.  Many things we become good at are learned or earned.  Examples: preaching and teaching; leading – becoming an elder or deacon, sometimes wealth is built, through learning we become skilled in using God’s word to encourage others, some learn their mechanical and physical skills, some are better at adorning the work (making it professionally presentable – tracts, invitations, websites, etc.).  Whatever skill you have, use it for the glory of God (Colossians 3:23, 1 Peter 4:11, etc.)

                                                iv.      Ask others – often others can see your strengths and weaknesses and encourage you to develop better. There is value in wise counsel. Proverbs 15:22, Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.
Proverbs 12:15, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.

                                                  v.      Most of us have more talents than we realize - I am fearful that there are far more who underutilize their abilities, than those who are working at their full potential.  If you want to do something – TRY!  Work at it and see if you can do it. 
NOTE: As we have already noted, not everyone can do everything.  Accept your limitations but don’t use them as a crutch to bury whatever talents you do have!

d.       There will be a day of reckoning.  The lord returned and called the work of his servants into account. 

                                                   i.      One day, our Lord will return and call into account our lives.   2 Corinthians 5:10. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that one day we will die and then face judgment. 

                                                 ii.      We will be judged by what have and have not done.   Jesus followed up the parable of the talents with a picture of the judgment scene (Matthew 25:31-46) where we will be separated like goats and sheep. 
Revelation 20:12, And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

                                                iii.      Consider that the lord of these servants was gone a long time. (25:19).  How many today think the Lord is delaying His coming.   2 Peter 3:3-4 speaks of scoffers who will mock His delay.  Peter goes on to remind us that God is longsuffering (2 Peter 3:9). Note vs. 10, BUT the day of the Lord WILL COME as a thief in the night.  (Emphasis mine)

                                                iv.      Our reward will be just.  God knows us for who we are.  He knows if we are giving Him our best or trying to just get by.  He knows our hearts.  He knows EVERYTING.  His judgment will be based upon our obeying Him as we are capable of doing.   1 Peter 1:17 notes that “without partiality” the Father will judge each of us “according to each one’s work.”
Romans 2:5-11 describes the righteous judgment of God which will be without partiality.

                                                  v.      God will NOT accept our excuses.  When we stand before God, he knows everything!  You can make all the excuses in the world and they will NOT work.  God did not accept the first excuses (Genesis 3:9-13), and He has not accepted them since then.
Luke 13:24-27 speaks a parable of a master shutting his door and those outside begin to knock and ask to come in.  He will reject them.  They will seek to justify their conduct (with excuses) but be left out as strangers.
Don’t risk your eternity by thinking you can justify your failure to obey Him!

 

When you stand before the Lord, what will He say to you? Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of your Lord, OR Depart from Me, you wicked and lazy servant?  What are you doing with your talents?  Think about it.