Friday, January 25, 2019

Parable of the Talents--God's Generosity

At the early service, we looked at the end of this parable.  You know the words.  You wicked, lazy servant!  Now those are some words I don’t want to hear.

We don’t always understand this part in our modern mindset.  Hey, the guy just didn’t do well.  Why accost him and call him names—mean names at that?

Was he really wicked?  Lazy, that’s easier to swallow, but wicked, really?
Understand the Proverbs.  In macro view they say there is God’s way and there is everything else.  What are the terms for everything else?


It’s a dichotomy:  Righteous or wicked.  There is no middle ground.  There is no fence sitting.  It’s God’s way or everything else and everything else is labeled wicked.

We are usually in tune with what’s happening up to this point, but now the master says, “Take the money away from this servant and give it to the one who has the ten talents.”
Ouch!  Isn’t that being a little harsh?

Let’s remember that the money was a trust.  It really never belonged to the servants.  Remember the joy of the first two servants.  ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

See what I gained for you.  Here is what I did for you!  My joy is in pleasing you!  I love being your servant and bringing you this good report.

The third servant knew that the money belonged to his master, but he never moved beyond fear to realize that he was also a trusted servant.

He only had one talent.  How can he be considered a trusted servant?

One talent equaled the daily wage for a worker for 20 years.  That’s big-time money even when you are only trusted with one talent.  Today, what does the typical worker make?  If it’s on the low end, maybe $25,000 per year.  On the high end, perhaps $50,000 per year.  I’m not talking supervisors and executives, but workers. 

So, one talent in today’s equivalent is between half a million and a million dollars.  That’s no chump change. 

OK, so we get this is a big trust even for the third servant, but why take what little he has?

Think to Proverbs 13:22

A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.

You may have heard the second part of that as the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just or the righteous. 

What else could the master do if he subscribed to biblical wisdom.  The wicked and lazy don’t get to keep what they have, if they have anything at all.

This morning I want us to look at the wealth of the wicked being stored up for the righteous in the context of this parable.

The first servant had done very well.  We know this from the beginning of the parable.  He was trusted with more than the other two.  He produced more than the other two.  He put what the Master gave him and put it to work right away and produced a great return.

Today, it would take 10 years to double your money if you invested in something with a 7% interest or return.  The master was gone a long time, but I doubt it was 10 years, so this first servant surely made some aggressive investments that required much attention. 

He had to be diligent.  He had to be wise.  He had to be decisive but not impulsive.  His master trusted him in accordance with his ability.  He produced a fantastic return.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The second servant did likewise and received the same commendation from his master, but at the close of this parable, we see the first servant rewarded beyond all others.

So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10 talents.  For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough.

The wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous. 

This first servant took the money with which his master had trusted him and produced a good return.  He knew what he started with and what he produced.  But when the full accounting of these servants was finished, this first servant was given more.

The talent first trusted to the third servant was put in the first servant’s trust.  He was given more.  He had more and was given more.  He had more than enough.

Now both the first and second servant were also invited to share their master’s happiness.  They got a promotion and they were invited to be a part of their master’s happiness.

But the first servant got something extra.  So the moral of the story is it pays to be number one!  That’s the ticket!  It’s dog-eat-dog even in the parables of Jesus. 

Or not.

All of the money still belonged to the master.  Even the 11th talent received by the first servant still belonged to the master.  It’s not about how much you have.  It’s about what you do with it.

In this parable, it has to do with money.  Money is something that we get—we can wrap our minds around it easily.  It’s not conceptual or reflective.  We can count and measure money.

But we are trusted with so much more than money.  We lead and we serve.  We parent and look after parents.  We proclaim the good news and we are a light unto the world.
We are generous.  We are people of truth.  We are people of love and mercy.

We are disciples.  God has trusted us with following Jesus, taking the gospel to the world, doing our best to live the right standing with God that we have received as a gift.

We can look at this parable and if we are not careful, we might think it’s about what we do that puts us in right standing with God, but it has nothing to do with what we have done.

God made us right with him.  He did all that was required.  We are receivers of his blessings.

Look at the religions of the world. They require their followers to do good, or follow certain rules, or a combination of both to get to heaven, or get to a state of Nirvana or reach a plane of consciousness or become nonexistent.

Everyone else is working their way to heaven.  Heaven has been given to us freely in the blood of Jesus.  We are receivers of this gift.

The world that believes in something else but thinks they can earn their way to heaven spends time doing things that get them there or so they believe.

We spend our time receiving what has been so freely given.  We want to receive more and more of the Kingdom of Heaven into our lives now.  Yes, there is more in store, but we are to receive God’s kingdom now.

Every time that we receive God’s kingdom and live in his kingdom, he gives us more of his kingdom.  God wants to add to what we have already received and put to work and refined and produced.

God wants to add to what we have.

When we receive the gift of salvation and decide to follow Jesus and put his words into practice, we should expect not only to please God but to be further blessed by him.
Sometimes this is with money.

Sometimes it is with Spiritual Gifts.

Sometimes it is with opportunities.

Sometimes it is with peace that is more than we can understand.

Sometimes it is wisdom that God grants generously.

Sometimes it is eyes to see and ears to hear in the midst of a chaotic world.

God wants us to live an abundant life.

Some might be thinking that he is going to preach name it, claim it.    No, I am preaching about the abundant generosity of God.  God is looking for a reason to bless us.  God wants to give us good gifts, fantastic blessings, and this thing called abundant life.

I am talking about the abundant nature of our Master!

If God is for us, who can be against us?  Make no mistake that God is for us.  He has opened his kingdom to us.  He has saved us from wrath and punishment in the blood of Jesus and he is looking to bless us beyond what we might expect.

God wants to add to what we have for we are his trusted servants, his children, and his friends.

When we live every day God’s way, we should expect God’s blessings to continue even in our trials and tribulations.  We will have trouble in this world but take heart—take courage—Christ Jesus has overcome the world for us.

For those who consistently reject God’s way, even what they have will be taken and given to those living in right standing with God.  Are we talking about salvation here?  I don’t think so.  All three were trusted servants.

What about the wicked and lazy part?  I think we are talking about someone getting through this life as one escaping a burning house with only the scorched clothes on his back and having missed a few payments on his fire insurance.

Are we talking about rewards for the righteous?  Yes, to an extent.  But we are also talking about awards.  Rewards come in return for what is done.  Something awarded is an honor bestowed upon someone beyond the customary reward.  Awards consider what has been accomplished but is more about bestowing a greater blessing upon someone who is already enjoying the rewards of doing things right.

What do we take home here?

God made you right with him by the blood of Jesus.  That’s the biggest gift and blessing ever.

God wants you to do things his way and rewards those who do.

God wants to give over and beyond what might be expected.

God wants to give you more. 

We often look at what we are to do when we examine this parable.  That’s good.  We should—we should be faithful in a few things.  We should take what our Master gave us and be faithful to put it to work to produce a good return for the body of Christ and bring glory to God’s name.

This morning, however, I want us to focus on the generosity of God.  God wants to give you more.

The sun shines and the rain falls on the wicked as well as the righteous, but there are some things that God gives only to those seeking him and his righteousness.  God wants to give you more.

The question is, “Will we receive it?”

The Kingdom of Heaven has been opened to us.  We may live in this kingdom now.  We are not on our way there.  God’s kingdom has come to us.

God wants to give us more.  The wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous.  The wicked don’t want to live in God’s kingdom.  They want the benefits but are afraid to give up what they have in the world thinking it to be better than what God has in store for us.

I believe that we want to receive this kingdom now, but we must first stop believing the lies of the enemy, of the world, and of our own selfish nature.  God’s way is better than the way of the world. 

The world has a great advertising campaign going but God gives us truth.  And the truth is that God loves you.  He has called us to love one another.  He wants to bless us more and more.  He wants us living in his kingdom now where he is our only Master.  You cannot serve two masters.

You may look around at those in the world getting away with all sorts of scandalous things and wonder, will God let them get away with it, or how much longer will the wicked live the rich life?

Don’t worry.  What the wicked have, they don’t get to keep.  In fact, they are only holding it until it is given to us.  The wealth of the wicked is stored up for the righteous.

Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten talents.

God wants to give you more than he has already.  Be ready to receive it.


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