What is your investment strategy? Sports memorabilia? Stamps? Vintage comic books? Stocks & bonds? Or is your investment strategy giving it all away? Serving others?
In our series on Generosity, we have seen the following principles in the Scriptures—It all belongs to God. We give back to God what he has given us. We worship God with our first and best. God’s promises that if we give, he will meet our needs; that is, if we follow the sequence of we give first, then God meets our needs. We are to give generously and see what God does. We have been blessed in order to be a blessing.
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we see one more principle—We are to use all we are and all we have for God’s glory. Matthew 25 contains two parables about the kingdom of God. The parable of the 10 virgins (1-13) emphasizes that we are to WAIT faithfully until Jesus returns. The parable of the talents (14-30) emphasizes that we are to WORK faithfully until Jesus returns.
God has entrusted some of his resources to each of us (14-18). Jesus tells the story of a rich man who heads out of town on a long journey. Prior to leaving, he entrusts his portfolio and possessions to three trusted servants. Since a talent represented 20 years’ wages, he is giving each one an enormous amount of money. But he is a wise leader, and he tailors the assignment to each one’s ability (15).
We often raise our first objection at this point. We believe that life should be fair and we should be treated equal. We complain if we get less than someone else. However, as F. D. Bruner pointed out, “In the kingdom of God, not all are created equal.” Some have a greater capacity than others. If you gave five talents to a one talent person, you would frustrate and overwhelm him. If you gave one talent to a five talent person, she would be bored out of her mind. God in his grace gives us exactly what we deserve and are capable of handling.
God will hold us accountable for what we do with his resources (19-30). After a long absence, the master returns and wants to settle the accounts. We see that faithfulness will be rewarded (20-23) while unfaithfulness will be punished (24-30).
The servant given five talents brings his ledger and shows that he doubled the master’s investment. The master praises him, promotes him to a greater level of responsibility, and invites him into a celebration party. The servant given two talents brings the same rate of return and receives the exact same praise, promotion, and reward. It is significant to note that rewards are NOT based on results. Rewards are based on faithfulness.
The servant given one talent operated out of a sense of fear and a scarcity mentality. Fearful of making a mistake, he was paralyzed into inaction. John Gardner once observed, “One of the reasons why mature people stop growing and learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” Instead of receiving praise, the master calls him lazy and wicked. Instead of receiving a promotion, he loses what he was given. Instead of being invited into the party, he is kicked to the curb.
What is your investment strategy? What is in your portfolio? What financial resources has God given you? What is your spiritual gift? What natural talents and abilities do you possess? How are you using them for God’s kingdom?
Brendan Francis said, “If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don’t hoard it. Don’t dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke.”
Don’t be afraid to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone. Hudson Taylor’s words on this subject are encouraging—“Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith.”
The story is told of the great artist Bertoldo di Giovanni. He was the student of Donatello and the teacher of Michelangelo. On one occasion, he came into the studio and found Michelangelo working on something beneath his abilities. Giovanni picked up a hammer and smashed the project. He proclaimed, “Michelangelo, talent is cheap; dedication is costly! It will cost you your life.”
How are you investing your life? David Garland posed a rather convicting question, “When Christ returns, he will not ask if one had the date right but ‘What have you been doing?’”
Use all you are and all you have for God’s glory.
This is the synopsis of a sermon preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 18, 2015. It is part of a series on Generosity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.