Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

That's What He Said, This Life We Have Been Gifted With

November 16, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 4 Episode 23
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, This Life We Have Been Gifted With
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
That's What He Said, This Life We Have Been Gifted With
Nov 16, 2020 Season 4 Episode 23
Pastor Dave Tucker

What are we doing with this gift of life God has given us? Are we living a radical, sold out life, of love and service to others? Are we  risking it all, putting everything on the line, to share the good news of a loving God to this broken world?

Based on Matthew 25:14-30

Show Notes Transcript

What are we doing with this gift of life God has given us? Are we living a radical, sold out life, of love and service to others? Are we  risking it all, putting everything on the line, to share the good news of a loving God to this broken world?

Based on Matthew 25:14-30

That’s What He Said
Parable of A Man and His Property
Matthew 25:14-30

As we continue our journey through the book of Matthew, we find another parable of Jesus. As is the case with all of Jesus’ parables, the story starts out making some sense that we can follow and make some sense out of it… but then the wheels fall off and we realize that this story is NOTHING what we expected it to be. The parable we will be studying today is no exception. Many of you have heard this parable before. If you have, you have probably heard it presented in many different contexts with many very different interpretations… most of which so misguided that some of the interpretations are just bad theology. It is my desire to remain faithful to the text, however, since we don’t have a time machine, we can’t go back and ask Jesus, exactly what he was trying to say. So today we will, together, unpack this parable and examine it from the lenses of our current lives. This morning, we will be discovering what this parable is not. And by the end, perhaps we can come up with a good working interpretation on what it is. Our lenses will be based on our present contexts and what we know about Jesus… After all, it’s what He said! Before we begin, let us invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate the text for us this morning.

 

[Prayer for Illumination]

 

Our Scripture reading is found in Matthew 25:14-30. 

“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  (NRSV)

The word of God for the People of God

         Thanks be to God

         In the case of this parable, the wheels start to fall off almost immediately. Actually, the only part of this parable that seems normal is the part where it talks about a man going on a journey! After that, there are so many questions! Who does this man represent? God? If it’s God Why did give different amounts of money to each slave? Isn’t God an equitable God? What are these talents mentioned in the parable? …These questions are all in the first 4 verses of the parable!

         Let’s explore what this parable is NOT. This is not a sermon on stewardship. There are just too many problems with this story to make this a lesson about giving our tithes and offerings to God. The first problem is the issue of the land owner giving different amounts of money to each of the slaves. Does God favor some people over others? Does this work with our understanding of God? Does God really give some an abundance of money while allowing others to live under a bridge? I do not believe for a moment that it is EVER in God’s will that there be people who do not have homes… and I certainly don’t believe that God is directly responsible for people to be homeless.  

Another problem with using this parable as a stewardship sermon is, the first two slaves went out and made some pretty risky investments. And in a hurry too! It doesn’t take an investment specialist to realize that in order to double an investment in a quick period of time, one has to invest in high risk stocks … It is much more of a gamble! If you invest in the wrong things, you can lose ALL of your money! Conversely, the slave who received the least amount of money, returned the money to his master… every dime! It wasn’t 10%... Every dime entrusted to this slave was returned to the master, which, according to the parable, was totally unacceptable to the master. So, I believe it is safe to say, this is not a sermon about stewardship or giving back our tithes and offerings to God. There are just too many hoops to jump through to make this work… and I’m not interested in jumping through hoops and proof-texting to make a point.

         The other thing that this parable is not… it is not a lesson on how we use our skills and abilities for the church. The understanding of ‘talents’ in the bible does not translate to our understanding of ‘talents’ in our current context. I believe that in order to be faithful to the text, we need to maintain the understanding that Jesus is talking about resources, just not monetary resources. To be fair, this take on the parable is much closer to what I believe Jesus is trying to communicate to us. However, I still think it leaves a few holes and it doesn’t completely give us a complete picture of what God wants from us. One big thing for me is, why, in the story, is God giving more skills to some and less to others? So, I don’t believe that this is about using our gifts, skills, or modern understandings of talents, for God… per se… 

         Here’s what I think this is about… First, some quick context: The author of Matthew placed this parable right after the parable of the 10 virgins who were waiting for God to come. Five virgins were prepared and five were not. That parable, like today’s parable, is, without dispute, about the return of Jesus. Both parables are about the world to come and about being ready. The other thing to pay attention to is this parable is positioned directly before Jesus is handed over to be crucified. In fact, Jesus talks about his death in the very next chapter, Matthew 26:2. Jesus is telling his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” So yeah, Things are fixin’ to get real! Jesus wants to prepare his followers of his imminent death on the cross as well as urge his followers to prepare for his return. 

         So, from this contextual lens, we see that the master in this parable is indeed God. And God has given each and every one of us the gift  of life. Some have been blessed with more years of life than others. But all of us are given this gift of life. At some point, unless Jesus comes first, we will all see death. The question I believe this parable is asking of us is, what are we doing with this beautiful gift of life God has given us? As we look at the life Jesus lived, we see that Jesus lived radical, sold out life, of love and service to others! Jesus’ entire life was spent in healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, making people walk again, casting out demons…. Raising the dead! Jesus lived with us, walked with us, laughed with us, cried with us… LOVED US!  [pause]  As I look at my life in contrast… some days, it’s hard for me to get out of bed in the morning!

         What are we doing with this gift of life God has given us? Are we living a radical, sold out life, of love and service to others? Are we  risking it all, putting everything on the line, to share the good news of a loving God to this broken world? Or are we comfortable, sitting on the couch, eating Cheetos… living a comfortable life? We watch the news while arguing politics with strangers on Facebook from our phone and ask, “What on earth is wrong with people?!” Then we go to bed and pray that tomorrow doesn’t have any problems. WHEW! That sounds like a lot of work! I know this is an exaggeration… yet I wonder if sometimes we expend so much energy making our own lives comfortable, that we don’t have enough energy left to reach out to others. Our lives are like that talent, that treasure, that the servant buried… 

Can I get real for a moment? Every week I stand up here and invite people to join the church. I wonder if using the word ‘join’ is a bit misleading? Joining gives the connotation that we have signed up for something… like a country club, with all its benefits. We pay our offerings and tithes like they are membership dues. We join church for what we can get out of it instead of for what we can give to others? 

If we see church as a country club, we are tragically missing the point of church! Joining a church, becoming a Christian…. A Christ follower, means we are sold out to serving Jesus, and the Gospel, and Kingdom of God, with our lives. Following Christ means that we live a radical, sold out life, of love and service to others! Our lives are an investment in the lives of others… whether we see a return on that investment or not! 

I have been to churches who have stopped reaching out to the community because they are not seeing anyone from that community joining the church. They missed the point! What if we just serve others because that is the directive from God? This preschool that we have here? It is an outreach of this church. This preschool is an investment of our time and lives. Little lives are being led to Jesus and their parents and families are coming along as well. We may never see the impact we have truly had this side of heaven… I applaud the teachers of our preschool… they don’t get paid enough for what they do. Yet they still serve. Their lives are a radical, sold out life, of love and service to others. 

         My question this morning simply, what are YOU doing with your gift of life God has given you? Are you sold out? Are you, through your life, demonstrating the Good news of Jesus Christ with everyone you come in contact with? Are you living a radical, sold out life, of love and service to others?

AMEN

 

Journal Prompts:

  • Five daily Gratitudes.
  • In what ways do you find yourself trying to live a comfortable life.
  • What are some things that you need to give up in order to live a radical, sold out life of love and service to others?