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2011-02-13 (am) Matthew 25.14-30 What Are You Doing?

Today we conclude our series on the church, such as it was. Last week we looked at the heart of giving. If I could define this series it would be like this. God is interested in the heart, the heart of worship, the heart of being Gods familyloving one another, the heart of being united to Christ, like a rope of three strands and the heart of giving. Today were going to look at the heart of doing. There was a time when I thought this passage was all about money. It is not. It is about Gods kingdom, it is about the Gospel, it is about God giving us responsibility. The question we must ask ourselves is this, what am I doing? This parable mentions four main characters: the master and three of his servants. The master gives to the third servant 1 talent which is about 20 years wages. The second gets double that, the first 5 times as much. Today, thatd be about 1.2 million to the first servant, 2.4 million to the second, and 6 million to the third. In those days, 20 years is about the average length a person could have expected to work. The parable parallels an average persons life. The reality is that the master gives greater responsibilities to some people than to others, but the master expects each person to handle what he has received responsibly. So, while we might be interested in talking about the money that the master distribued, thats not the point. The point Jesus is making is what each servant did with his life. What did he do? Did he show himself faithful with the responsibility he was given?
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The first two servants wisely worked hard. They were shrewd managers. They were not lazy, they were not jealous of their masters money; they were not contemptuous of what the master owned. The third servant demonstrates his attitude, his heart, by burying his talents. He does so because he considered his master hard. That is, the thinks his master is harsh, stern, unmerciful, relentless, who expects more from his servants than he has any right to expect. The servant says as much, youre a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, gathering where you did not scatter, so I was afraid. The servant accuses the master of being like Pharaoh, telling the Israelites to make more bricks with less straw. But isnt the opposite actually true? Didnt the master mercifully consider the ability of each servant? Notice that he didnt give 5 talents to each of them, but gave them a reasonable amount having taken into consideration the ability of each to handle what theyve been given. Now, if someone handed you 1.2 million dollars and told you to take care of it for them while they go away, what would you do? The first thing Id do is go to the bank! Theres no way I want that much cash in the house! Then Id probably ask someone far richer than I am what to do with it. How about you? Would you squander it? Would you invest it well? Would you use it to make more money? What would you do with 20 years wages? With 40 years wages? With 100 years wages?

When you think of it, the third guy was a pretty lousy guy wasnt he? He gets 1.2 million dollars, doesnt do anything with it because he thinks the man who gave it to him didnt deserve to have it in the first place. He was upset that the master came back at all! Now, this being a parable, the talents represent something and the people represent something. The talents, as it is clear from the context, the parables that are before and after this one, represent the gospel. They represent Gods kingdom, the bridegroom returning, and the end of the age, when those who are saved are separated from those who are not. Those who are saved are those who believe in the bridegroom. They know he is coming back and they are not only ready for his return, they are eager, excited about it. Theyve done what they needed to do and they cant wait to see their loved one again, they cant wait to tell them all about what theyve done! It is like a soldier going off to war. While he or she is gone, his or her spouse keeps the home. Problems come up; they take care of them. They not only maintain the home and look after the children, they work, they improve the house, and they keep everything ready. They dont know when exactly their loved one will return, so theyre always straightening the cushions on the couch, theyre peering out the windows, theyre making sure the house is in order at all times, just in case. So, that when their spouse returns, they can show him everything theyve done! Look honey! I did this and this and this. Dont worry about anything; youre home! You can be with us, focus on that! Everything is in order!
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Thats the attitude of the first two servants. They longed for their masters return. They were excited! They were prepared! The first servant said, Master, five talents to me you entrusted! Look! Five more I have gained by investment! The second servant said, Master, two talents to me you entrusted! Look! Two more I have gained by investment! To both these servants, the master says, Well done, good and faithful servant. Over a small amount, you have been faithful, over much, I am going to put you in charge; come, share your masters happiness. Now, 6 million and 2.4 million even today, is no small amount, is it? To the master, it is! Did you notice though what has made him happy? It was not the return of the investment, but their faithfulness! They are good and faithful servants! They handled themselves responsibly; the master was wise to trust them. God calls us to be good and faithful servants. Jesus is our Lord. He has entrusted the gospel to us. The gospel is priceless! It is not merely something we can hope for the future, like an inheritance, it is something we can use now. The gospel, the good news transforms people. It empowers them to be holy as God is holy, to be righteous as Christ is righteous. It empowers people to be faithful. The question, then is faithful in what? Since it is the gospel, the good news that Jesus died to save sinners from the curse of sin, which is death? So, does God invest us with this good news expecting us to tell others? Is this nothing more than a plug for evangelism?
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Certainly, evangelism plays a role, but it is too narrow a picture. God has given us new life! So, all of life is affected, all of life comes under the influence of the gospel, all of life is transformed by the gospel. So that, we can be, because of Christ, because of the Holy Spirit in us, we can be good and faithful servants, in everything. What were doing flows out of our hearts, our new hearts given to us by God. So, we examine our lives. We look at what we have been given. From the youngest to the oldest, we have responsibilities. We examine them to see where we are being faithful with what the master has given to us. Honestly, hes given us everything. So as pre-teens, you have responsibilities at home, to do what your parents expect you to do. Good and faithful servants of God do so, joyfully and without complaining, knowing that what they do gives their parents joy, knowing that theyll share in their parents joy. Teenagers, your responsibilities are shifting; youre gaining more responsibility. As Spidermans uncle Ben said, With great power comes great responsibility. God is increasing your power, you have jobs, you have income apart from your allowance, and your master above expects you to manage it effectively. You ought cheerfully to give a portion of your income away in Gods name; you ought to learn from wise adults around you how to manage your money so that your money doesnt end up managing you. The same goes for those who are single or married. You also have responsibilities. Do not consider what you have as yours. Not even our bodies belong to us; they are Gods temple. Whether you are single or not, you are not your own, you were bought at
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a price. Single/widowed people can serve God differently because they are able to make independent decisions. Married people have the added responsibility of serving one another as they serve God together. Last week I mentioned that debt is dumb. It is true. Debt can very easily take control so that your life becomes less your own, and you end up serving money. Whatever God has given you, whether it is a huge annual salary, or a small annual salary, God has also given you the ability to manage it well. Whether your life is full of great responsibility, seeing over many employees, many children, many spouses, oops, wrong religion. Many decisions, or few decisions, dont get caught up in what you have versus what others have. Its not about that. It is about what God has entrusted you to do. Whatever it is, do it well, with all the integrity, humility, and power of Christ in you. Ill conclude with this. God gives all his servants, all of us, responsibility. This responsibility is graciously given; we dont earn it. God looks at our potential, our weaknesses, and he gives us exactly what we can handle. This responsibility is to tell the truth about Christ, it is to live rightly before God. It is about having good character, integrity. It is as Dave Ramsey puts it, Living like no one else now, so that you can live like no one else later. In a sense, this is what God called the Israelites to do. They were to live as Gods people, according to Gods laws, so that theyd live in a way that was unlike the nations around them. So that the nations would come to know God and obey him also. So that

they could receive Gods gift of mercy and live, truly live, with full confidence in the messiah to come. Israel failed, so God sent his Son, who lived perfectly in every way, in every aspect of his life, not to show the way to live, but to be the way to live. Christ has made it possible for us, all of us; to be as the first two servants were, even if right now, were more like the third! Christ transforms us! But I warn, you. Know yourself. Look in the mirror. If you are not living as you know God is calling you to live, you may be tempted to blame others, blame your upbringing, blame circumstances beyond your control. Dave Ramsey talks about that as well. Be honest with yourself. The responsibility lies with you. If you know your behaviour, if what youre doing isnt what God is calling you to do, then it is up to you, with the Holy Spirits powerful presence and influence, to change. Dont delay, do it today. Know where youre at. Take stock, evaluate. Look at where things have been and where they are going. Then make the changes necessary. Look at yourself honestly. Invite others to help, if you dont think you can be objective. Then demonstrate your faith in God by living as hes called you to live, like no one else. Then, your whole life will be a testimony to Gods grace in you. You will have opportunities to share about God in you. Youll be excited about what God is doing! He will be Lord! Youll live with eager expectation of his return, knowing that you are striving to be a good and faithful servant.
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Dont be discouraged by stuff of life, hardship, trials, temptations, which our Lord promised would come. Be disciplined as your Lord will enable you to be. Dont make excuses and justifications. Strive hard. Ask yourself, what am I doing and why am I doing it? Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Amen.