Inscription: Writing God’s Words on Our Hearts & Minds
Part 34: God’s Investment Strategy
October 3, 2010
· Entire section in Matt and Luke
· Dave’s e-mail
Scripture reading: Matt 25:14-30
· Visitor cards
This week and next we are going to talk about a couple of Jesus’ parables – short stories that make a really big point.
The story begins with:
NIV Matthew 25:14a ¶ “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey...
To really get what is going on here, you have to know the context – in just three days Jesus is going to be crucified. Then he will be raised, and ascend to heaven.
Q Who is the “man going on a journey”?
For past three years he has been trying to prepare them for this. He has been pouring into them, teaching them, getting them ready for him to go on his journey and leave them for a long, long time (2,000 years and counting).
It’s all his
NIV Matthew 25:14b ...who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.
In this short portion he gives the most important truth of the parable. If you get this, then everything else is superfluous:
· “His property”
Everything is God’s, nothing is truly ours. He made it.
Q Whose church is this?
Q Whose body is this?
Q When you drive home, whose car will you be driving?
Q When you are texting instead of listening to the sermon whose phone will you be using?
We have this silly idea that we own anything – every time we say “this is my car, my house, ‘me time’,” we lie through our teeth.
· My daughters always fight over the “pretty spoons,” saying “That’s my spoon.” Actually, it’s mine. I let them use it.
Job said “naked I came out of the womb, naked I will depart.” He has the right idea, but he still is taking too much for granted.
· Not just our possessions, but our every skill, every attribute, our very existence comes from him.
It’s not like we have some did something to deserve our genes, like God did some pre-screening in heaven.
Q Have you ever noticed how we take pride in things we have no control over?
Have you ever known people who are arrogant about their physical features? I’m sure they worked really hard to be that tall! Granted, some feature may have been paid for.
· For some reason, they don’t brag about the artificial stuff!
But God convicted me one day that I don’t have any more right to brag about my IQ than they do their looks (That was low of God – he knows I don’t have looks and that IQ is all I have.)
Time, talents, and treasures
In this story “God’s stuff” is symbolized by talents, the largest monetary unit available. It would take a common laborer about 20 years to earn one talent, so it’s a lot of money.
· From this story, the word talent entered the English language to mean a skill or ability.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking talents means “talents.” We need to think of talents as meaning everything God has lent us: Time, talent, and treasures.
Q Who has control of your time?
Q Who do you believe is responsible for your talents?
Q Who do you think owns your possessions?
So when it says “talents”, it means “time, talent, and treasure.” I know it’s confusing, but work with me.
If you are not a Christian and you don’t believe this is his, it might get unpleasant when he calls the note.
· If you are, everything is doubly his: When you call him Lord, you are saying he has complete control of everything you have.
What if Jesus appeared in your house and told you to sell your house and everything you own and take your family to India to work in an orphanage for the rest of your life?
· You’d either have to obey or admit that he isn’t really Lord.
What if he then said, “Psych! You can keep it all, but I want you to give 10% of your income to the church, teach Sunday School every month, clean the church occasionally, and tell your neighbor I love him.”
· We would be relived, thrilled, and grateful – amazing what a change of perspective will do!
The question isn’t really how much of your time, talent, and treasures, it’s how much of God’s you get to keep.
Renter, owner, or steward?
So don’t this of this stuff from an owner’s perspective. But think of it like a renter either. Why?
Q What do you do when you’re driving your car and see a pothole?
Q What if you are driving a rental?
My neighborhood has a Home Owners’ Association, and one of the rules prohibits renting your house. Why is that? Because people tend to take better care of thing they own.
We tend to think either in terms of being an owner or a renter. But there is another perspective – a steward. A steward doesn’t own, but has been entrusted to care for, kind of like a manager.
· A good steward has a pride of ownership, knowing that he doesn’t own it.
It is as if you have been paid to take care of the house, and your job depends on it. You get to use it, you get to enjoy it, but you always must remember that is it his, and he gets to tell you what to do with it.
\ The big idea: Everything you have is God’s property.
Q Back to the parable: Why did the owner lend them his stuff?
So that they could invest it and earn more.
Jesus was reminding them that God lent us our time, talent, and treasures, for us to invest them.
· God wants a good return on his investment, not like a CD, but like investing in Microsoft in the 80’s.
A good spiritual return
Q And what kind of return is God looking for? A bigger house, nicer car?
All of that is mere trinkets, little toys, things that mean nothing to God. He is looking for spiritual returns.
Luke 16:9 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
When we die, none of this will matter to us. Take the entire sum of your earthly wealth, convert it dollar for dollar for monopoly money, that’s how much it will be worth in heaven.
· He lends us material things to gain eternal returns.
He has given you your money; is he getting a spiritual return?
How are you investing it? Maybe in ministry, or a cup of coffee a friend who needs to talk?
He gave you your spouse; is he getting a spiritual return?
How are you building him or her up into the person God wants them to be?
He has given you your job; is he getting a spiritual return?
How is your work place different because you are there?
He has given you a healthy body; is he getting a spiritual return?
You are working out, keeping healthy – how is that be used for spiritual returns?
He has allowed you to be sick; is he getting a spiritual return?
Matt Chandler – honored God could entrust him with brain cancer.
The church – investment central/Video
Obviously, there are different ways to get spiritual returns – you should discuss that in your Community Groups. But I want to look at one of the most important ones: Your church.
The Elders and Deacons’ job is not to do everything. Our job is to help you to invest your time, talents, and treasures here in such a way as to have a good spiritual return.
You may’ve noticed most of deacons are gone. Maybe you heard that they are off running marathons or playing on the beaches of Hawaii, but don’t believe a word of it – they are on special assignment and I am expecting a report from them any moment now.
If you don’t like this sermon, you can blame Michel. I told her to make it funnier, but she wouldn’t listen.
Consumer or participant?
· It’s not enough to just invest your money here, though for some that would be a step forward.
BTW: Look at the bulletin – we are running in the black! Things are still really tight, but we are keeping things above water, and we should all take proper pride in that.
· But if this is truly your church, you need to be investing your time and talents, and treasure here.
Too often, church can be a lot like professional sports, a lot of people in need of exercise watching a few in need of rest.
Q How do you view church? Are you a renter or steward?
Q Or to put it in other terms: Are you a consumer or a participant?
A consumer comes here to get something, but a participant views this as truly their church, as the place where they live out their part in the body of Christ.
A consumer thinks, “The drums are too loud in here.”
A participant thinks, “I wonder if I can help with sound.”
A consumer thinks, “There were any cookies for me.”
A participant thinks, “I better go grab some.”
A consumer thinks, “This bathroom is dirty.”
A participant thinks, “Let me tidy this up a little.”
For a participant, this church is view as their home, and they want to be hosts.
· Peter gave a lot phony statistics in there, but one was pretty accurate – 10% of the people tend to do 90% of the work.
This is the opposite of what God had in mind when he built the Church – it is a leftover from the middle ages.
Q How are you investing your talents here?
Let’s continue – don’t worry, the next 15 verse will take a lot less time that the first 1.
NIV Matthew 25:15-18 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. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 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. 20 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.’ 21 “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!’ 22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “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!’
Do you feel like the two-talent guy or worse, the one-talent guy? Looking at the five-talent guy, it doesn’t seem very fair!
I am a two-talent guy: I’m good at absorbing lots of info and I like people. That’s it.
· Then I look at Peter – Great with people, naturally funny, good at getting things done, a top athlete, and great hair.
Q Do you feel like you got the short end of the stick?
Do you look at other’s talents, money, looks, etc, and think “If only God had given me better raw material, then I could really do something special for him?”
No one is talentless – each servant was lent something. You have natural abilities, skills, possessions, finances, connections, opportunities, and unique personality traits.
Q How are you using what he gave you?
How’s your R.O.I.?
Here’s I love about this parable; it has great news for the two-talent folks. Did you notice is in the story?
Q Who receives greater praise, the one who earned five extra talents or two extra?
· Neither – they both received the exact same praise.
“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” Matthew 25:21, 23 NIV
· God doesn’t care about our net, he’s more interested in our Return On Investment (ROI).
Q Think of it this way: Does God need our help?
No, so that means that when he lends us our time, talents, and treasures, he’s not doing it because he thinks we can do a better job than him. He’s trying to do something in us.
I am teaching my daughters how to scratch my back. They aren’t great at it yet -- their finger span is still pretty small. But it’s an investment. When they are teenagers I will be set.
· This should encourage those who doubt their giftedness and warn those who are complacent in their abilities.
I am convinced that in heaven many two-talent people will receive greater honor than many five-talent people, because they had a much better rate of return.
Fear of failure
NIV Matthew 25:24-25 “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. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
When you first read this, you can be sympathetic towards this guy – he’s just afraid of messing up! We can all relate. We don’t like to fail.
How many of our talents go underused because of fear of embarrassment or fear of failing.
· Dave Browning: Fear of failure and false humility is actually pride.
Based on everything we’ve seen about the owner and about God, I think he would have been far happier with a big flop.
“The only failure is never to try.” Things You've Never Done – Passenger
Better to attempt something and fail then attempt nothing and succeed. Failure is an education; some are just better educated.
But that isn’t this guy. In fact he is just a big, fat liar, and the master catches him in his lie:
NIV Matthew 25:26-27 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.
Q I don’t buy this... have you ever had a boss who scared you?
· You work harder to stay out of trouble.
He gives himself away – the real problem was that he thought the talent belonged to him:
“I was afraid that if I earned a profit, you would take it.” Well, yeah, that was kind of the idea.
· That would be like McDonald’s employee refusing to sell any Big Macs because he won’t get the money.
He was paid to invest the master’s money, but treated it as his own. He isn’t just being lazy, he is wicked – this is fraud.
I knew a guy who went to jail for pyramid scheme. The basic problem: He treated their money as his money. The law doesn’t call this an innocent mistake, it calls it fraud.
· We are guilty of fraud on a daily basis, we treat God’s stuff as our stuff and fail to invest it.
Are you really his?
NIV Matthew 25:28-30 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 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. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
This part should disturb you – here is a guy who was one of the servants, but then is toss out into hell.
Here’s how they heard it: There are going to be a lot of church folks in hell. People who may have looked the part, but they were never God’s. I wonder if Jesus was thinking of Judas.
· I don’t say this to scare you, unless you need to be scared.
It’s not as if you earn your way into heaven by getting a ROI, but if you don’t view your stuff as God’s stuff, it’s an indicator that Jesus might not really be your Lord.
· And that should scare you.
Q & A