TERRIFIED OR PUMPED?

How often do you think about standing before God to discuss the way you used your life? When you think about that occasion, how do you feel? Do feel a sense of fear or a sense of excitement?

It will happen. It is unavoidable. Not many occurrences in our futures are absolute certainties. Our meeting with God is an absolute certainty. Nothing you or I can do will prevent it.

Who would like to prevent that meeting with God? The person who is terrified of God would prevent that meeting. The thought of talking to God about the way he or she used life fills that person with terror.

Some people are excited about that meeting. No, they do not think they have conquered all evil. No, they do not think that they are perfect. No, they do not think they have deceived God about their flaws and mistakes. They place their confidence in God's forgiveness and Jesus' blood. They are excited because they understand their meeting with God will be an occasion of incredible peace.

If you want to be certain that your meeting with God is an occasion of incredible peace, not a time of terror, what would you do? Would you do nothing because you are convinced that God is easily irritated? Or, would you take responsible risks for God because you are convinced that God likes for His people to show initiative?

Focus your attention on Matthew 25:14-30. Late in his life, Jesus taught the parable we call the parable of the talents.
For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

  1. First, we must do something Jesus did not need to do--we need to understand the facts behind the parable; Jesus' audience immediately understood the facts behind the parable.
    1. The basic fact we must understand is this: the parable is based on the servants' use of the money they were given.
      1. The master in the parable is a wealthy man.
        1. He gave three servants a total of eight talents to use in his best interest while he was away on a long trip.
        2. One talent weighed about 75 pounds.
          1. In the parable Jesus did not say if he was talking about a gold talent or a silver talent.
          2. Regardless if he talked silver or of gold talents, the amount of money the master entrusted to his servants was enormous.
            1. If they were gold talents, just one talent was worth over $350,000 if you figure 75 pounds of gold at $293.30 an ounce (the value of an ounce of gold on Wednesday of this week).
            2. If they were silver talents, just one talent was worth over $5,300 if you figure 75 pounds at $4.48 an ounce (the value of an ounce of silver on Wednesday of this week).
        3. Jesus told the parable 2000 years ago, and the point was that the master entrusted a lot of money to each of the three servants.
      2. The master did not have that money because he allowed his money "to sit around and do nothing."
        1. He put his money to work.
        2. But he was going to be gone for an indefinite period of time.
          1. He would not be there to manage his money.
          2. He would have to trust someone else to manage it for him.
        3. So he called three of his servants he regarded as trustworthy and capable, and he gave them the responsibility of managing his money while he was away.
      3. All he expected of each servant was what that servant had the ability to do.
        1. If gold talents were given to the three servants:
          1. He gave one servant over $1,750,000 to manage in his absence.
          2. He gave one servant over $700,000 to manage in his absence.
          3. He gave one servant over $350,000 to manage in his absence.
        2. The amount the master entrusted to a servant depended on that servant's personal capability.
        3. His expectations did not exceed the servants' abilities--he did not expect them to do something they were not capable of doing.
      4. After giving the money to each servant, the master began his long trip.
        1. Trips were dangerous.
          1. It was unwise to travel with a lot of money.
          2. Traveling with all that money also would be irresponsible and unproductive.
        2. Trips were uncertain.
          1. There was no means of staying in contact with anyone at home.
          2. You could not know how things were going in your absence or make suggestions when problems arose.
        3. There was no way to know how long you would be gone or set a date for your return.
          1. When you traveled, very little was under your control.
          2. Each day you simply did what was possible.
    2. What happened:
      1. The servant who was entrusted with over $1,750,000 went right to work.
        1. He acted responsibly, but he also took risk.
        2. In his master's absence, he doubled the amount to over $3,500,000.
        3. The entire effort profited his master.
          1. The entire $3,500,000 belonged to his master, not to him.
          2. He was just being a responsible servant, doing his job.
      2. The servant who was entrusted with over $700,000 also went right to work.
        1. He, too, acted responsibly but took risks.
        2. He, too, doubled the amount entrusted to him to over $1,400,000.
          1. That entire amount belonged to his master.
          2. He was merely being a responsible servant, doing his job.
      3. However, the responsibility terrified the third servant!
        1. He had only one desire--do the safest thing possible! Take no risk!
        2. So he did the safest thing to be done then--he buried the money.
        3. The master would not make anything, but neither would the master lose anything.
        4. When the master returned, he received his actual money back.
        5. In this servant's estimation, the safest thing to do was to do nothing.
          1. Forget capability.
          2. Forget risk.
          3. The master's best interest is served by losing nothing.
          4. That is all the master is concerned about--losing nothing.
          5. Play it safe--don't do anything!

  2. In time the master returned and called the three servants in to give a report.
    1. Two of the servants had wonderful reports.
      1. The servant entrusted with $1,750,000 reported he doubled the amount entrusted to him.
      2. The servant entrusted with $700,000 reported he also doubled the amount entrusted to him.
      3. Both received the same compliment from the master.
        1. "You did well; you were a good servant; you were dependable."
        2. "I will place you in charge of many things."
        3. "I invite you to share life's joy with me."
    2. The report of the servant who received over $350,000 was horrible.
      1. "I knew what kind of person you are."
        1. "You are a hard man, just plain unreasonable."
        2. "I knew there was no way that I could meet your expectations because you always expect something for nothing."
      2. "When you entrusted this money to me, I was scared!"
        1. "So I did the safe thing."
        2. "I hid your money in a safe place."
        3. "Now I give you the same money you gave to me--you lost nothing."
      3. The master's reaction is astounding.
        1. "If you knew me so well, why did you not at least place my money where it would draw some interest."
        2. "You wicked, lazy slave."
          1. Wicked, lazy slave?
          2. He did nothing! He did not lose anything!
          3. How could the slave be wicked and lazy if the master got back exactly what he gave the slave?
      4. "Take this wicked, lazy slave's $350,000 away from him and give it to the slave who manages 3 million dollars for me."
        1. He will work! He will be responsible! He uses the money!
        2. "I will give more opportunity to the one who uses opportunity."
        3. "I will take opportunity away from the one who refuses to use it."
      5. "Severely punish the wicked, lazy slave who had both ability and opportunity, but no initiative."
      6. Why was this slave such a miserable failure? He did not know his master!

  3. I have worked for and in the church all my life.
    1. This year, I have preached full time for 40 years.
      1. It has been and is my joy to know, work with, and be encouraged by many Christian men and women who are serious in their commitment to godliness.
      2. But in all these years, I have noticed something over and over.
        1. Too often the controlling attitude in a congregation is this: "let's play it safe."
        2. What does that mean? What does it mean when we say, "Let's play it safe."
        3. Too often it means, "God would rather we be afraid of Him and do nothing than trust Him and take initiative."
        4. Where did we form the conclusion that the safest way to please God is to do nothing? Why did we decide the safest way to make God happy is to take no risk?
    2. When God built his church on the foundation of Jesus Christ, God did not build a building.
      1. What God built was not centered in a building.
      2. What God built was not dependent on a building.
    3. What God built was a people, a people who sought God's best interest, a people who responsibly took risk to God's glory.
      1. Know God!
      2. Know the enormous investment God made in the church He built--He invested the life, death, and blood of His Son.
      3. Take what God entrusted to us and use it to His glory.

We come to this building to honor God with worship, to study His will, and to encourage each other. We leave this building to function as God's people, to assume the responsibilities of godliness, to make a spiritual difference wherever we are.

Go honor God! Go be spiritually responsible! Go be a positive influence who dares to take the risk of being Jesus' light in a dark world! We have so much ability! Use it to bless and benefit God's investment!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 17 March 2002


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