Scripture Text: Matthew 25:13-30
Are you hiding the master’s stuff? You may think to yourself, “I don’t think so.” If I were to say that the master is God and His stuff is anything that He has given you, would your answer be different? The parable in this passage is about a master who went on a journey and entrusted his possessions to three servants while he was away. Two of the servants used the master’s resources wisely, but the third one did not. He hid his master’s money. Which of these three servants would be you? Are you like one of the two servants who wisely and faithfully used what the master entrusted to him, or are you like the one who hid his master’s money?
The Parable of the Talents is located toward the end of the Gospel According to Matthew where Jesus was finishing His teachings. Jesus told this parable right before He was to be crucified. He was on His way to Calvary. He had set His face toward the cross and was using His final days to teach the people about being ready for His return and the final judgement. This section of Matthew stresses the time when we will all answer to God for our faithfulness to Him. Earlier in Matthew chapter twenty-four, Jesus mentioned that no one, not even He nor His angels, knew the day when He would return. Therefore, we must be ready for it and faithfully serve God until Jesus returns.
In chapter twenty-five of Matthew, Jesus told two parables to illustrate the time when He will return to gather His people. The first one was the Parable of the Ten Virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom to return. Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Jesus then told the Parable of the Talents, about three servants who were entrusted with their master’s money. After those two parables, He then described the final judgement when He would gather the righteous into eternal life and send the unrighteous into eternal punishment. Therefore, the main point to all of this and the Parable of the Talents is that we must be ready when Jesus returns for we will give an accounting of how faithfully we served Him. This includes all that He has entrusted to us to use. There are four ideas I would like to draw out from this text:
- It is God’s stuff, not yours, to use
- It is your faithfulness, not the results, that matter
- With greater gifts come greater responsibility
- Great joy awaits those who faithfully serve the Master
It is God’s Stuff, not Yours, to Use (Time, Talents, Treasures)
This is similar to the truth we saw in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard. In that parable, the master of the vineyard hired many servants throughout the day. If you recall, at the end of the day, the master of the vineyard paid each servant the same wage, to which the ones who were hired first and who had worked the longest were not too happy about it. The master of the vineyard told them that it was his money to use as he pleased. The principle is the same in the Parable of the Talents. The master was free to give to each servant what he wanted, because it all belonged to him.
Matthew 25:14 For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.
Matthew 25:18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Matthew 25:25 ….I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.
What we see in this parable, as with others, is that what we have really does not belong to us. It all belongs to God and is on loan to us.. Our money, our homes, a church building, the ministries we do, even our very lives belong to Him.
In this parable, the master gave to each of his servants “talents,” which was most likely a very large sum of money. This large amount of money perhaps implies the greatness of God’s gifts to people. These gifts may be a natural skill God has given you, the ability to create something with your hands, the ability to write something inspiring and encouraging to others, the ability to organize and create order, or maybe the ability to make peace with others in the midst of conflict. God’s gifts also include the treasures that you have. Some of you have more wealth than others or more possessions than others. These are gifts from our Heavenly Father. Another gift is the very time we have. Time is a commodity that once spent can never be replaced. It is a priceless resource we each have, and we ought to use it wisely.
Like the servants in this parable, God has given to each of you a certain amount of time, talent and treasure, but He has not entrusted to each of you the same amount. In the Kingdom of God, everyone is not expected to perform with the same capability or resources, but all are expected to do their best as faithful stewards of what God has given. We are to be good stewards of what God has loaned to us. It all belongs to Him.
It is Your Faithfulness, not the Results, that Matter
To each of the servants in this parable, the master gave a certain amount to use while he was away. They were to use their master’s money in a way that would benefit him. The master gave the first servant five talents. That servant worked and made five additional talents for his master, for a total of ten. The master gave the second servant two talents. That servant worked and made two additional talents, for a total of four. Lastly, the master gave the third servant one talent; however, that servant took what was entrusted to him and buried it. He did not use it!
It may seem that this parable emphasizes that what you do is what makes you right with God. After all, the master in the story rewarded those servants that used his property wisely, on the basis of what they did with it. We should read this passage in connection with the previous Parable of the Ten Virgins that is about the faithful watching and waiting of the bridegroom. Notice how the master in the Parable of the Talents responded to each. To the first two servants, who earned the same percentage (one hundred percent of what was given) but different total amounts, the master told them, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It is faith that motivates action. It is faith, not results, that is rewarded. What will save you is your faith, and specifically, your faith in Jesus Christ. Each of the servants received the same reward, which we will see later.
The results are not as important to the master as the faithfulness of his servants. I think this is an important truth for us to understand. We may, and I hope do, work hard to build God’s church and reach the lost in our communities. However, just because we do not see the great results that we may see (or think we see!) elsewhere does not matter as much as whether we are being faithful to God with what He has given us. Are we growing as a church? It depends on how you define growth. Are we growing in faith to Jesus Christ? Are we growing in love for God and for each other? Are we growing in becoming disciples of Jesus Christ? In essence, are we growing in being the people God has called us to be? That is the measure of growth that I hope we see.
The unfaithful servant, took what was given to him and buried it. He hid his master’s money. When the master returned, the servant said, “Here is your money.” He had done nothing with what the master had entrusted to him. This servant was judged, but he was not judged for failing to make as much as the other two servants. He was judged for not using what the master had given him. When we stand before God, what will matter is whether we faithfully served Him no matter what the results were. You should serve God where you are for the time He has given you with what He has given you and leave the results to Him.
With Greater Gifts come Greater Responsibility
In the movie Spider-Man, there was a statement that was mentioned several times. It became the main point of the movie: With great power comes great responsibility. In the movie, the character Peter Parker was bitten by a genetically altered spider that then gave Peter spider-like abilities. He could climb walls like a spider. He had superhuman strength and speed, and an uncanny sixth sense that warned him of immediate danger. Peter’s Uncle Ben told him that with great power comes great responsibility, but Uncle Ben said that without knowing that Peter was Spiderman. Peter would repeat this statement and remember it over and over again, to remind himself that with his greater abilities and gifts, he had a duty to use them for the good of mankind.
We see something similar in this parable, which shows us that to those who are given much, much is required of them. Those to whom God has given more have a greater duty and responsibility to use it for His glory. Look around us with all that God has blessed us? Now, I am sure that many of you immediately thought of this great sanctuary God has blessed us to use. Some of you may have thought about the other resources we have here and how wonderful it is to have the music, the talent, and the money to buy bigger and better things for the church. Indeed, these can be great things. But, I challenge you to think about the other things with which God has blessed us?
We have the inspired Word of God that contains the message of salvation and reconciliation that everyone needs to hear. We have a community of people out there who need to be reached for Jesus Christ. How faithful are we in reaching them with God’s message? Are we more focused on making things better and more desirable here, that we have neglected those out there? Are we more focused on making things nicer and more entertaining, that we have neglected the good news of Jesus Christ that rescues lives from the pit of Hell? It is a blessing and a privilege to be in the service of King Jesus, but it is also our responsibility. May we be faithful in reaching the world for Him. That does not mean waiting for people to show up to church on Sunday morning. That does not mean having things at church to entertain them. It means going out to them, where they are, and sharing Jesus with them. That is our greater responsibility!
Like the unfaithful servant in this parable, people use all kinds of excuses to justify their misuse of God’s gifts, whether that is the time they have, the talents God has given them, or the possessions He has entrusted to them. Some use predestination to excuse the call to evangelize others. They may believe that God is going to save the elect, so why bother telling others about Jesus Christ. Some use eternal security or “once saved, always saved” to excuse their laziness and unfaithfulness to God. They may believe, “God has already saved me, so there is nothing I need to do but wait for the rapture.” Well, good luck with that! The master in the parable told the unfaithful servant that if he was right about the master’s character, he would have worked that much harder. God extends grace to us and gives us resources, such as time, talents, and treasures, to work that much harder for Him. Are you holding back from Him or are you being responsible with what He has given you in order to increase the Kingdom of God?
Great Joy Awaits Those Who Faithfully Serve the Master
The last point I would like to make about this parable is about the reward for the faithful and unfaithful servants. When the master finally returned, there was an accounting of his resources, of what he had entrusted to each servant. This represents a final judgment when God will hold us all accountable. For the unfaithful servant who misused his master’s money and demonstrated unfaithfulness, he was “cast into the outer darkness [where] there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” What a horrible fate that will be, for it will a darkness apart from God of all light. This place will be outside of the presence of God, Who is the source of all hope, joy, peace, and love. I believe this is the same place of eternal punishment that Jesus later mentioned in Matthew chapter twenty-five that was “prepared for the devil and his angels.”
For those who have faithfully served King Jesus, who have used His resources for His glory, this passage reveals that they will not have eternal punishment, but eternal life. In fact, what the master had entrusted to them was very little compared to what they received. For the two faithful servants in this parable, their master told them, “Enter into the joy of your master.” Those who genuinely accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have the promise of living joyfully with Him forever. In one translation, it said, “Let’s celebrate together!” It will be a celebration unlike any other. Think of the joy surrounding a wedding banquet after the bride and groom have wed. Everyone is sitting around the table, celebrating the blessed union of two who have just committed their lives together. There is great joy as everyone celebrates that wonderful occasion. That is a fraction of the joy we will experience when Jesus returns to get His bride, the Church, and take her to the wedding feast in heaven. Those who genuinely trust in Jesus Christ and faithfully follow Him will enter the joy of the Master…for all eternity!
In closing, the Parable of the Talents describes the responsibility we each have to faithfully serve our Heavenly Master with what He has entrusted to us. The man in the parable went on a long journey and entrusted his property to his servants. This man might be viewed as Jesus who left to go prepare a place for His people and promised to return one day to take them there. If so, then the servants in the parable are us. To each of us is given a certain amount of time, a certain amount of talent and a certain amount of treasure. God entrusts these things to us. It all belongs to Him and He gives to us as He desires. The question you should ask yourself is this, “Am I using the resources that God has entrusted to me, or am I hiding them from Him?” Are you burying God’s stuff or are you using it for His glory? May He find us faithfully serving Him, reaching the lost, and making disciples while we have time. Amen!
This sermon was delivered at Good Hope Baptist Church in Wake Forest, NC. More information about Good Hope may be found at the following site: www.GoodHopeBC.org.