Commended for Faithfulness

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.’

Years ago, my husband (who is the pastor of our congregation) did a bold thing during a sermon on stewardship. He gave every family $20 and challenged them to see what they could do to cause that money to grow. We were given 6 weeks and the creative thinking began. It was a fascinating experience. What was so interesting was the wide range of things people did with the money to cause growth. They were so very creative and talents we never knew they possessed came springing forth. Our own family created a line of Christmas cards designed by my daughter Bethany who is the artistic one. We then sold those cards and our $20 turned into over $200. In the end, the investment in the congregation as a whole brought in well over $10,000. The whole experiment was today’s parable in action.

Most people would probably associate themselves with the guy who got only one talent. Most of us don’t see ourselves as massively talented or rich. But the amount you receive means nothing. The fact is everyone receives something. Obviously the point isn’t what or how much you receive but what you do with it. Over and over Jesus stresses not the amount that is returned but the faithfulness with which the person acted. That’s what waiting for His return is all about. Are we doing it with faithful attention to what we have been given? Those resources are not only for our use and comfort but for us to use in serving others while we wait. Those who act without faithfulness are seen as worthless and cast out of the Kingdom. Now don’t misunderstand. We are not earning our way into the Kingdom with a hefty return on what we have been given. No, we are displaying our trust in a wonderful God by faithfully serving others for Him with our resources. It isn’t a tough formula. God gives to us so that we can serve others while we’re waiting for Him to come back to get us. The more people who see His great love through us, the more people who will join us in heaven when it’s all over.

This set of parables is not meant to cause us guilt feelings. Instead they are meant to help us maintain our focus on what is important. Matthew West has a new song out called “Do Something”. I’ve included a link below so that you can go and watch it. The lyric line is pretty good and illustrates this parable fairly well.