A Matter of Partnership! - Matthew 25: Parable of the Talents

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1 1 A Matter of Partnership! - Matthew 25: Parable of the Talents Last week we considered A Matter of Ownership. Today we have before us a passage of Scripture that presents A Matter of Partnership. We will walk through a story that Jesus told during His ministry a story found in Matthew 25: I m going to summarize the story for now, and then we will examine the individual verses to see what Jesus story can teach us about how to be better stewards of what God has given us. Matthew 25:14-30 [Summary] An owner was going away for awhile In his absence, he entrusted his possessions to three different servants He gave one servant 5 talents, another 2 talents, and he gave 1 talent to the other servant. The servants who received 5 and 2 talents doubled their money. The servant with 1 talent buried his. It went well for those who doubled their money. It went poorly for the one who buried his talent. It is interesting that Jesus used money to explain a principle. He did this because He knew that we all have to deal with money and that insured that each person would understand the story. This leads us to our first point today: ONE - We all have to deal with money, possessions, and stuff. Money management intimidates many people. The matter of stewardship causes them to be stressed out. Often we don t understand some basics about money management, so what we hear from a seminar or sermon makes no sense. How many of you have watched a Charlie Brown special. Remember in the classroom when Linus and his classmates are trying to talk and the teacher calls on them? When anyone speaks about money, it is like they are hearing Charlie Brown s teacher: Waaa waaah waaha wah wah It makes no sense to them, it frustrates them, and it is exhausting to think about it. When a wise financial person speaks of money management, it is like hearing and attempting to answer this question: QUESTION: If you were in a canoe with four flat tires, paddling down the middle of a cornfield, how many pancakes would it take to cover a doghouse? [Repeat the question] There is an answer! What is the answer? you might ask. ANSWER: It doesn t matter because a chicken doesn t eat ice cream anyway! For many people, talking about money is the same as talking about canoes with four flat tires in cornfields. The questions AND the answers make no sense! But regardless of our feelings about money, we all have to deal with it! Thankfully, God has provided all the wisdom we need about this topic in the Bible! And we can be thankful that it is a lot more understandable that canoes in cornfields. Last week we learned the cardinal principle that God is the owner of everything! All we are and all we have belong to Him. Even the ability to work and buy and invest is from Him. He is the owner and we are His managers. Being a manager (steward) in not so much a matter of ability as it is a matter of trust. Can God trust me and can I trust God? Today I want to introduce you to yet another helpful principle right from your bible.

2 The Bible talks about the fact that we are to honor God with the first fruits of everything He provides to us. Frankly, that is where many churches stop talking about money. We teach Give! Give and God will bless you! And that is true! But God still retains ownership of 100% of our possessions not just the amount we give to Him! That is why we have to harken back to the first principle we talked about last week: God is the owner of everything. I want to tell you as your pastor, one who loves you and wants the best for you, I want to equip you to win with everything God has blessed you with. I firmly believe this: You can do exactly what God has put you on earth to do regardless of the income potential. But we must follow His Word in the management and stewardship of everything He has provided, and He has provided everything we need which brings us to our second point today: TWO - God offers us a partnership with Him in His family business. 14 Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, [ask the congregation to read these next five words] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. (Matthew 25:14-15) Here is where that matter of trust comes back in again. The owner chose men he felt he could trust with his precious possessions. See in verse 14 he entrusted his property to them. So once again we see that management is a matter of trust. But now look again. He didn t give them all a blanket trust. He entrusted each one of them according to his ability. He knew he could trust some with more responsibility that others. Herein is a sub-principle if you please. If you want to be entrusted with more, be a good manager of what you have. Do you see it? If you want more to manage, increase your ability to manage what you have now! As God sees that He can trust you with what He has provided now, He will entrust more to you! How do you increase your ability? Find people who are winning with money God s way and seek their wisdom! Proverbs 15:22 shares: Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Go to classes. Participate in the seminar next Sunday. Join one of our follow up Group Studies! Let s continue reading Jesus story. I want to read from the NIV here. 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. (Matthew 25:16-18) QUESTION: Over the past year, how have done with what God gave you to manage? Did you give to Him through your church? Did you wisely use the rest according to His principles? QUESTION: One year from now, how do you want your answer to be different? Our guest speaker who will be with us next week experienced this event: (this is a true story experienced by Joseph Sangl, author of I Was Broke. Now I m Not.) A family was struggling with their finances and asked Joe to provide financial coaching He arrived to help this family of four, two parents and two teenage children As they worked through the preparation of a budget, Joe asked the family how much they planned to spend on groceries this month. $150, they responded. $150! Joe said. Believing they had misunderstood his question, Joe clarified his question: I didn t mean per week or per person this month. I meant how much are you planning to spend for your entire family of FOUR PEOPLE for an ENTIRE MONTH? $150, they responded again. We re hoping to reduce it to $100. 2

3 After hearing this, $150 was put into the budget with a warning to the family that they were going to be really skinny if they lived by this budget. The family continued to work with Joe to enter the rest of their expenses into the budget and they came to the goats. Goats? Joe asked. Yes! We belong to an agricultural organization known as 4-H, and we have goats. Every day, we drive 45 minutes each way TWICE EACH DAY to feed the goats. The family responded. How much for the goats each month? Joe asked. $400, they responded. The number was entered into the budget, and immediately the budget was overspent. After reviewing the total budget, Joe exuberantly shared, You can win with your money! But we are in the negative! How is that possible? they responded. Joe answered, When are you going to feed the goats again? This afternoon, the family responded. Joe continued, That s incredible! Here s what you are going to do. You are going to drive over to the goats, and kill them. Then cook them and eat them! You can solve your goat outgo problem and your grocery problem at the same time! The family stared at him in shock! They never invited him back! But let me tell you something: It would have worked!!! It was not what they wanted to hear, but it would have worked! Now you might say, Pastor, that is a ridiculous story. I don t have any goats! But can we just be honest today and admit that we have all had goats at one time or another? We ve ALL had goats! Valeria and I have had our goats. Just last week she was reminding me of one. We bought a timeshare. The presentation was slick and the condo really was posh. But paying for that was taxing our budget to the max. Just like the goats in Joe s story, it was eating our lunch! Let me ask you a question: What is the goat that you need to go home today and slaughter? I call them sacred cows. Sacred cows make great hamburger! Now how does this relate to what we have been learning so far? Let s go back to the first principle. God owns it all He owns what He calls us to give and the management of the rest! And He cares greatly about what we do with it. This leads us to our third point today: THREE - We will be held accountable. When it comes to managing someone else s property, there always comes a time when the boss shows up and requires an accounting. Because this is a matter of trust, that trust must be proven. The Apostle Paul made that point when he wrote, Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. (1 Cor. 4:2) Another word for faithful here is trustworthy. So it is with the parable Jesus was telling. 19 After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. (Matthew 25:19) Just as in this story, there will be a time when our master will return and settle accounts with us! We will be asked, How did you manage your part of the family business? What did you do with my son Jesus? What did you do with all that I entrusted to your care? As we look at this story, we can see 3 categories of people. I want you to determine which category you fit into. The first category is: Those who have managed WELL. 3

4 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! (Matthew 25:20-23) These two servants went at once and doubled the money they were entrusted with. Hopefully, that is your story! You have managed what God has given you according to His Word, and you have done well. You may not have been led to invest it in stocks or bonds, but you have dealt with what He has entrusted to your care according to His best interest. If this is you, that s incredible! I challenge you to do three things: a. THANK God Thank him every single day for providing His word and being true to it! b. TELL others Have you noticed we live in a world that is desperate for biblical financial wisdom (and all biblical wisdom, for that matter)? You are a living witness to what God has done for you Share it with your children, your grand children, your friends, co-workers, and anyone who will listen! c. GUARD yourself It can be so easy to put our trust in our stuff! We can say, Look at my 401(k), I have a million dollars. I m awesome! But how did that work when the 401(k) turned into a 201(k) and then into a box of Special-K? We can begin to put our trust in the PROVISION instead of the PROVIDER The second category of person in this story is: Those who have managed POORLY. That is the case of the one who buried his talent. We pick up his story in Matthew 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. 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 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. Harsh words spoken by Jesus! This man shares feelings that most of us have felt about money FEAR (vs 25 afraid), and the punishment seems really harsh after all, he returned what was given to him. But God wants us to USE what He has given us not bury it! As I looked at this story, I realized that there is a third category of people that aren t included at all. In fact, it represents the majority of people in our country! 3 rd Category: Those who missing from the story! They have spent everything God has given them and then borrowed and financed even more! Think about it. The third man kept what was given to him and Jesus called him wicked and lazy. But nearly 70-percent of people live paycheck-to-paycheck, broke-to-broke, and struggling. If we were to write them into this story, it would read: I know you gave me one talent. I spent it. Then I financed several other things. I need a loan to repay that too. 4

5 5 If this is you, you might be telling I m so broke jokes. Jokes like: I m so broke, I have to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and lick other people s fingers! I m so broke that when someone pushes our doorbell, I have to yell, DING DONG, out of the window! Let me tell you the not-so-funny type of I m so broke statements you make when you are in this category: I m so broke, I took my giving dollars and financed a truck with it. I need a bumper sticker that reads, I m driving my tithe. I m so broke, I spend more than I make each month and use my VISA card to catch the slack. These are not funny, and I want you to know that you CAN be free! God doesn t want you living that way any more than you do! That s why were teaching this series. It s why we re offering the I Was Broke. Now I m Not. Group Study. We re passionate about helping you fund God s plan and vision for your life! I wonder which category each of us are in? If you are in the second or third category, my challenge is for you to Be a Part of the Story! and move toward the first category those who have managed well! You CAN do this! Let s finish with my final point today: FOUR - We can be financially free! God is not inspired by our wealth. He s inspired by our response to His word and the commitment of our life to Him! He has provided everything necessary for you to accomplish what He s called you to do. Your situation might be so incredibly tough that you would say, It would take a MIRACLE for me to get out of my mess! Let me introduce you to the author of miracles Jesus Christ! God has worked countless miracles in my own life, and if it is difficult for you to believe that He can do that for you borrow some of my belief! Next week, we are going to finish up this series with a story of a financial miracle. I promise you that you don t want to miss it! We have a guest speaker who will bless you with his testimony, and then put some biblical tools into your hands that are transformational! You will be glad you came. But for now, let me go back to the principles. God is the owner. You and I are managers. Being a manager is more a matter of trust than a matter of ability. Can I trust God to keep His word to me? Can God trust me to keep my promises to Him? Today we have learned the principle of partnership. God entrusts us with part of His great treasure. We are to be partners with Him in that we recognize that He is the owner and we are his managers. We will invest all His blessings the way that would honor Him and trust Him with the outcome of those investments.

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