Oops...take 2

Monday, November 8, 2010 at 01:40PM

When you leave me in charge of the technical aspect of stuff..like what happened yesterday....you end up with nothing recorded......So here is the text from the message from yesterday and the questions we discussed.

We have two more weeks left in our sermon series entitled “The Generous Life” and until we transition into Phase 2 of Veritas.  This week we’ll be covering the Stewardship of Talents and next week we’ll wrap it all up with discussion centered on the stewardship of God’s creation.

So as I was working on developing this series I knew that I needed to do one week on being good stewards of our talents.  And I knew that I needed to use the Parable that we are going to look at this morning.  I knew this because this parable is one that led me to planting Veritas, calling me to take a risk and use what he has blessed me with.  God spoke so strongly to me through this parable and continues to speak through it to me.  And I am sure that he will speak to you through it as well.

The parable that we are looking at together today is found in Matthew 25:14-30 and is called the Parable of the Talents.

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.  So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.  “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“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 man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’  “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!’ “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’  “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.  For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

This is one of the better known parables that Jesus told during his ministry here on earth.  But what was the point of the story for his hearer’s?  And what about us 2,000 years later?  Is the point of the story the same and an even deeper question, is the story and the point of it even relevant in our time?  Let’s spend some time this morning discussing the parable, its point made by Jesus, and the relevance of it in our modern life.

The first thing that we need to look at together is this word talent found in the parable.  In the English language we commonly use that word when we say people have received talents of music, business, leadership, and the like.  That use of the word is derived from this parable.  But what was a talent in Jesus’ day?  It was originally a measure of weight and later the word came to denote a fixed amount of gold or silver.  A talent was a unit of money which in modern terms equal roughly 1,200 dollars.  So while we may think that the third servant wasn’t given that much in the way of talents, we see that it was significant nonetheless.  Servants of God are not all endowed with equal gifts and talents.  But it’s not how much the servants were each given, but what they did with it once that had it that truly mattered.  Just look at the Master at the end of the story, what did he look for?  Goodness and faithfulness in his servants.  Whatever financial success these servants enjoyed came because they were good and faithful.  The Master looked first for these things, not the bottom line.

In this parable Jesus points out that talents are given to be used, and not buried in the earth.  These talents are to be used, shared, and given to help others, and not keep it to ourselves (whether we are talking about money, time, or talents).  It reminds me of another passage of Scripture which talks about the reason for our gifts.  1 Peter 4:10 (a letter written by an early Christian leader named Peter) says, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  Any gift that we may have received from God (money, time, talent, etc..) everything that w have should be viewed as being entrusted to us, not for ourselves, but to be used for ministering and serving the body of Christ and the world.  Our possession’s are not ours in a selfish sense, for we are just stewarding them for God, as he has given us them to further his kingdom with.

This is where the connection lies between last week’s discussion and this weeks.  Each of us have different talents (music, teaching, art, athletics, dance, drama, etc..) and so we desperately need each other in order for the body of Christ to be complete and whole.  No one’s gift is more important than any other in the body of Christ, all are needed.  Whether we feel that we have been given 5 talents, 2 talents, or only 1 talent, we need to use those talents in concert with others within the body of Christ to further the kingdom.  Again it’s not how many talents that you have been given, or how you are using those talents to further your own kingdom, but it is how you are using them to further the kingdom of God that truly matters the most.

I’ll tell you what messed me up the most when I read this passage about 4 years ago.  It was the ending of the parable in the Message translation that God called me to jump ship and take a risk in planting Veritas.  In the Message version the ending of the parable goes like this, “The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. "'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'”

Did you catch the difference between this ending and the one from the New International Version?  The issue that the master had with the servant was that he didn’t take a risk, and the one who received the most was the one who took the greatest risk.  We must venture with Christ at risk.  We can’t be content with “things as they are.”  We must break new soil.  We miss the point of this story if we fail to see that Christ requires of his followers the hazard of the untried road.  Or as Charlotte Bronte put it, “Better to try all things and find all empty, than to try nothing and leave life a blank.”  So when all is said and done regarding this parable, the central thrust and meaning of the story is that it is a plea that we live in courageous faith.  Willing to take risks for the kingdom of God.  When we are good stewards of the talents that we are given, that means we will take risks in using them to spread the Good news of Jesus and seek to further his kingdom.  To use our talents means risk.  Listen to this poem regarding risk….

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To reach out for another is to risk involvement. To expose feeling is to risk exposing your true self. To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd, is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk despair. To try is to risk failure. But the risk must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing and is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave, he has forfeited freedom. ONLY A PERSON WHO RISKS – IS FREE

So how can you and I be good stewards of the talents we have?  How can you and I risk for the kingdom?  And how can we as a community of faith take risks to spread the good news of Jesus and seek to further his kingdom?  That is where we’ll seek to talk about in our discussion time.

1.  What thoughts, ideas, comments, disagreements, insights, etc... do you have in regards to the passage of Scripture and in being a good steward of our talents?

2. What is one talent that God has given to you, and how have you been a good steward of it?  Or how could you be a good steward of it?

3.  How has God called you to risk for the Kingdom of God?  In the next week what risks might you take for the Kingdom?

4.  What risks might God be challenging Veritas to take for his Kingdom?  In what ways can we as a community risk for the Kingdom?