August 25, 2019

Matthew 25:14-30

Many years ago, when I was a pastor in Moultrie, a young physician and his family visited our church. A few weeks later, I had a meal with him at a local Mexican restaurant.  The young doctor had a beautiful family which included  a wife and three small children.  He had purchased a home in a nice neighborhood across the street from my youth pastor and his family.

This young doctor and his family were looking for a church to find community and to help instill Christian values in their children.

A few days after our meeting at the restaurant, my youth pastor called me and told me that he had just left the home of the family.  The doctor’s wife woke up that morning and discovered that her husband wasn’t breathing and she called 911.

Later, word came that he had died in his sleep.  An autopsy revealed that he died from a heart attack.  He was only in his thirties.

Within a few months, the realities of death compiled the grief for this young widow.   She discovered that her husband had not purchased any life insurance.  She was not going to be able to afford to live in their newly purchased home. Soon, everything was boxed up, and they were forced to move back to Alabama to be closer to their family.

This family made a lot of good decisions.  He had prepared for a life of helping people through a worthy profession.  They searched for the right home and were searching for the right church.   The had based their marriage on the Lord Jesus.  But because he had done nothing to secure his family’s financial future in the event his death, he left his family with a great hardship.

I have known people that have failed to have a termite bond on their house, and later discovered that those uninvited guests had moved in.   Of course, termites don’t know if you have termite protection or not.  They will eat your house regardless.  But if you do nothing to detect their presence, by the time you discover they are there, not only have they done significant damage, the cost of repairs is many times what the prevention costs would have been.

I have known people that have done nothing to prepare for retirement.  They planned to live to be old; they just did nothing about having money when they got there.  Some end up having to work long past retirement years.  Others had to live below the poverty line.

I have known people that have done nothing to take care of their bodies.  They have treated their bodies with no respect, putting substances, the wrong food and drink into them as if there were no consequences.  They have done little to stay healthy, and they have lost their health very early in life.

There is a cost to doing nothing.

In today’s gospel, a man was going on a journey, so he called his servants and entrusted his property to them.

To each person he gave a handsome amount of money.

He gave the first servant five talents.

He gave the second servant two talents.

And to the third servant, he gave one talent.

According to a bishop that lived in the fourth century, a talent is equivalent in weight to one-hundred denarii.   That’s roughly $12,000 in today’s currency.   

So the one with five talents got five times that and the one with three talents got three times that.

The text doesn’t say how the servants did it, but the servant with the five talents gained five more, and the servant with the two talents went and earned two more.

What is implied is that they put the money to work.  Each of the first two servants invested what was given to him in some way.

Their investments paid off.

The third servant with the one talent went off and dug a hole and hid his master’s money.

He didn’t want to risk losing it, but when you think about it, was it completely safe hidden in the ground?

Someone could have come along and found where the money was hidden and stole it?

Every one of us has been gifted in some way by God.

The question is whether we will use it constructively or will we hid it away.

The Apostle Paul told the believers at Ephesus that “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” (Ephesians 2:10)

There are a lot of people who can give themselves to God and God’s work, but they do nothing with what God has given them.

It’s O.K. to say, “No,” as long as you know what to say, “Yes” to.

There is a cost for doing nothing.

Listen to this interesting passage in Proverbs 24:10-12:

10 If you do nothing in a difficult time,

your strength is limited.

11 Rescue those being taken off to death,

and save those stumbling toward slaughter.

12 If you say, “But we didn’t know about this,”

won’t He who weighs hearts consider it?

Won’t He who protects your life know?

Won’t He repay a person according to his work?

This proverb reminds us that all of us have some responsibility to help each other in difficult times.

When the Bible tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, that’s a commandment, and each of us must find a way to love.  Your method doesn’t have to be the same as mine.   But this is a fact – doing nothing is not an option if we are going to love.

This proverb poses the questions, “But what if we didn’t know about the situation? How can we rescue someone from death if we don’t know they were in danger or save the stumbling from slaughter if we were not aware?  Surly the one that weighs hearts will consider this? Won’t He repay a person according to his work?

I think Jesus answered that question in his parable of the talents.

When the Master returned from his trip, he settled accounts according to the number of talents he gave to each person.

He was pleased with the efforts of the first two servants.  They both doubled their talents and the Master commended them for being faithful and told them he would be them in charge of many more things.

But look what happens with the servant that did nothing.

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold 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. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

What’s he saying?  He’s saying to the Master that he’s a very unfair person.  How could he depend on him to judge him fairly should he go out and try his best, but end up losing his money.  So he decided to just play it safe. So he just hid the money to make sure his Master got it all back.

Was the Master happy with this?  No!

26 “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? 27 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.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.

29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 3And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

The focus of this parable rests with the third servant, the one given the one talent.  The message Jesus conveys to us is that regardless of what gifts we have, there is an expectation that we use them for God and His work.

If not, there is a cost for doing nothing.

1)    First of all, there is a cost to the work of God’s Kingdom.   If there is nothing ventured, there is nothing gained.  When God has given us a gift, our faith in God is demonstrated when we use our gifts for His sake.

Do not discount the effect you can have in a life, in a meeting, in a campaign, on a team, at your job, or in a church.

Take one string from a guitar, or one key from an octave, and see if doesn’t make a difference in your music.

At 211 degrees, water is very hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water comes steam.  And steam moves engines.  One degree less and engines stand still.

Don’t think what you have to offer does not matter.

If each of us were the catalyst for just one family a year coming to church, we would have over 150 new families visiting our church this year.

2) Secondly, there is a cost to our witness for doing nothing.  When we do nothing, we are saying we have no faith that God will honor our efforts to serve him.

1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things, God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen

While the first two servants were praised for their work, it is clear that their work was not about them.  They knew all along that all they what they were doing  was for their Master.  He was the focus of their work.

So when that third servant buried his talent, that was an insult to this Master.  It was a selfish act and a lazy endeavor.

By doing nothing, the Master’s resources had no chance to be enhanced.

What about you this morning?  What about our church?

As a church, we must take what belongs to God’s and decide how God wants it invested for the future of God’s Kingdom.  To do nothing is not an option that pleases God,

As individuals, each of us must do our part, to take what we have been given and use it for the sake of others, God’s church, and the world around us.

When we do nothing with what we have been given, we risk God taking those gifts from us and giving them to those who will be good stewards of them.

This morning with your head bowed and eyes closed, I’d like for you to think about the gift of time, possessions, and talents the Lord has placed in your life.

Have you been using them faithfully with others and for God’s church and kingdom, or have you buried them?  Have you said things like, “I already given my time.  I’ve already served enough.  I’ve already given my money.  I’m too busy.  I’m not gifted enough”?

Have you used lots of excuses that you have too many bills, too much to do, too many sporting events to attend, or that you are too shy to talk to people about the Lord?

Today, the scripture is clear; there is a cost for doing nothing.

Will you make a decision today to invest what you’ve been given?  Will you do it willingly?   Will you do it thankfully?  I challenge you to do it and watch God bless you and others because of your obedience.

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