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09.10.17 Why Are we Blessed Matthew 25:14-30 Sermon Summary

by on September 11, 2017

What would you do if God entrusted you with $226,200? How about $1.1M? Jesus gives us the answer.

Summary Points

  • The question that opens the Kingdom of God to us
  • Two paths for our lives
  • An illustration from the Holy Land
  • Living by faith or fear
  • Questions for discussion or reflection

Jesus’ primary message which he taught in word and by example was the Kingdom of God. His hope for all creation is that we enter God’s Kingdom. Jesus himself embodied the Kingdom of God so he testifies with authority how we also may experience God’s Kingdom. His parable about the talents offers helpful guidance.

Jesus has been away a long time. In the first few decades following his resurrection, they thought he was coming back soon. Then centuries passed, and now millennia. He’s been gone so long many figure he’s not coming back.

But like the master in the parable of the talents he is coming back. And like the master in the parable, he has entrusted his property to us. Since the opening chapters of Genesis, in fact, we have been blessed to be entrusted by God with all creation. But why has he blessed us this way?

In the parable, the master entrusts one slave with one talent. A talent is worth about 15 years wages for a laborer. In today’s terms, using the federal minimum wage, a forty-hour work week, a fifty-two week work year, a single talent is worth $226,200.00. He entrusts one slave with five talents: $1,131,000.00!

As in the parable, God has entrusted us with his property and will come to settle accounts. Settling accounts is basically God asking us, “What did you do with it? What did you with the blessing I entrusted to you?”

“I did nothing,” some of us will say, “because you didn’t bless me. I’ve earned everything I have. I deserve everything I have. It’s not a blessing from you.”

“I did nothing,” others will say, “because you didn’t bless me. I don’t have anything extraordinary. There’s nothing blessed about my life.”

“I did nothing,” still others will say, “because I was afraid of what you’d say if I failed.” This is the answer of the one-talent slave. “I know you are a harsh man,” he said, “so I was afraid.”

Legally, what the one-talent slave did was perfectly acceptable. Burying the talent in the ground was customary. This is why he was so confident in returning the talent to the master: “Here you have what is yours.” The one-talent slave wasn’t expecting to be put in charge of many things. He was just waiting for the master to return to give him back what was his.

Some of us live our lives this way. We are just doing our duty, biding our time. We are content to be ordinary. Then we will give ourselves back to God when we die. We don’t want to take a chance. We’re afraid like the one-talent slave. Afraid we might fail. Afraid God might judge us. Afraid we’re not good enough.

Answer now for yourself (to help prepare for eventually answering God): Are you a five-talent slave? Or a two-talent slave? Or a one-talent slave?

The five-talent and two-talent slaves also knew, like the one-talent slave, that the master reaps where he doesn’t sow, that he gathers where he doesn’t scatter. Because they know this, they took a chance. They risked it. In fact, they risked it all.

I wish there was three-talent slave. I wish in the parable there was a slave who was entrusted with three talents, risks it all, and loses it all. What does the master say to that one? If I knew that, it would give me some assurance. It would make me less of a one-talent slave.

But we only have the two examples. We have the slave who fears to fail, and so doesn’t try. And we have the slaves who fear to fail by not trying, so they take the chance.

You see, the one-talent slave feared the wrong thing. The master doesn’t judge the slaves for taking chances. He doesn’t even judge them for failure. The master judges slaves for not trying.

When God entrusts us with something, he says, “Do something with what I’ve entrusted to you! I have blessed you. I am coming back. I will ask you what you’ve done.” Because that’s part of the blessing—not just the things God has given us, but the opportunity to do something with it.

The Jordan River flows south through Israel, entering the Sea of Galilee and continuing on until it terminates in the Dead Sea. map The Sea of Galilee is surrounded by grass, shrubs, trees, flowers and is filled with fish. In short, there is life around the Sea of Galilee. sea of galilee By contrast, the Dead Sea has no life in it. The shores consist of mineral deposits that prohibit life. dead sea The difference is that the waters of the Jordan pass through the Sea of Galilee, but simply stop at the Dead Sea. In the same way, God’s blessings, when they pass through us to others, bring life. Five talents become ten. Two talents become four. But if they stop with us, there is no life. One talent remains only one talent.

What the parable teaches us is that we can live by fear or we can live by faith. Fear thinks God is going to judge us for failure so it’s safest not to take risks. Faith knows that God always reaps where he doesn’t sow, and always gathers where he doesn’t scatter. This always-quality of God overrides our failures. (That’s the definition of grace.) It may take a long time, but God has time.

So as long as we have time, let us live in faith. Let us be five-talent slaves. Let us take the chance, put it on the line, and risk it all. If we do, we’ll discover abundance in our lives and enter the joy of our master. This is why God has blessed us. Amen.

Questions for Discussion or Reflection

  • People do nothing with God’s blessings because they feel entitled to them (too proud), or that they have no blessings (not proud enough), or fear God’s judgment (don’t understand grace). What other reasons are there for doing nothing with God’s blessings? What keeps you from doing more with them?
  • How much is this parable about a final judgment, about a literal return of Jesus? How much is it about our lives here and now until we die?
  • Take stock of your life as a “Sea of Galilee.” What blessings has the River Jordan flowed into your life? How are you passing them on to others? Or are you more of a Dead Sea?
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