“Something for Thee” by Pastor Steve Sommerer
24th Sunday after Pentecost Nov. 15, 2020
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
The sermon text is from Matthew 25:14-30 previously read.
40 days after Easter Jesus ascended into heaven, but He’s coming again. Our parable says, “[Jesus] the Master… entrusted to His slaves His belongings.” The talents entrusted belonged to Christ, our Great Lord and Master. We manage God’s belongings to His glory for whatever the span of our earthly lives, and the church word we typically think of is: stewardship. A steward manages what belongs to another. Two of these stewards in our text did it with joy. One of the stewards was damned because his laziness and carelessness of the trust and its Giver. So, knowing Jesus is coming soon, how should you steward so as to hear the Master’s voice: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” How you’ll serve seems to flow from how you appraise the Giver.
We often think of stewardship in terms of God giving us the gifts of time, our talents, and our dollars, our treasure. It’s so much bigger than just how many dollars you put in the offering plate, though money too is a trust. Your time is a gift from God, if your church gets none of your time, you’re shirking a God-given calling; if your family gets none of your time, you are abusing a calling God has given you. Your talents are gifts that you manage. If you horde your talent or refuse to use your gifts, except for your own benefit, you are a miserable manager of God’s gifts.
Our time, talents and dollars are gifts that, if used selfishly, can be taken away. Why should God continue to bless and multiply your wealth if it makes you so stingy you don’t give to those in need or to support God’s Church? In that case, God’s grace would be enabling your greed and theft. But if God’s gifts are used in gratitude to the Giver and trust that He gives all things well, then those gifts – yes, even dollars, can be multiplied. To be a good and faithful servant, focus on the Giver – not the gifts themselves.
One danger here is the devil wants us to notice those more blessed than we. The devil wants us resentful against God and jealous of our neighbor. In earthly life, we are equally loved children of God, but differently gifted. I couldn’t be a doctor or a mechanic. It’s not my gift. To live out our callings faithfully in church and family, community and workplace, we are in awe of some people’s smarts; others perhaps wisdom. Some are muscular and strong; some musical; some more industrious and energetic, more stamina; some are more social, Paul calls that hospitality, some more nurturing with gifts of healing and compassion.
In our parable, the Master gives different gifts to His servants. 5 talents doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually a tremendous amount of money. Yet, here’s the point: God gives to each one according to God’s will – to some 5; to some 2; to some 1 talent. You are differently gifted than your neighbor. Don’t resent or begrudge your neighbor if they have more or different gifts. Each child of God is uniquely special with diverse gifts. 1 Corinthians 6 says, “You were bought at a price; therefore, honor God with your bodies.”
1 Timothy 6 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Be content with what you have and who you are. Live from the hands of the One who gives each day your daily bread. Don’t worry if you have fewer gifts in one area. Be the best you, you can be. And never forget, God’s greatest gift – His grace in Jesus is equally and freely spread to all His children.
I’ll add just a word about the unequal distribution of gifts… How boring life would be if we were all clones. There’s no surer path to a miserable life than to live yours wishing ill of others. Politicians and universities and media thrive on grievance and envy culture. The new Marxist movement makes no one’s life better, only working to punish the so-called privileged.
Some other servant of God may indeed have been entrusted with 5 talents to your one, but trust that God knows how best to save you. Don’t do your job lazily because you think you deserve a better job; pray and serve as though you’re the owner not the worker… Don’t gripe about your husband or wife, pray for them and encourage them. Your children are God’s gifts, teach them and form them by God’s Word. Pray for contentment and faithfulness and energy to devote yourselves to your God-given calling, in your marriage and family, your church and your jobs. The Psalmist wrote, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord; Serve the Lord with gladness.”
And remember: God’s blessings aren’t static things, you may start out with little and find that as you use your gifts in His service, He multiplies His blessings in your life, however He chooses. You may start out in a job and find God has other plans for your gifts. You may spend a career in the same place. Certainly, marriage and family is not a place God wants you to try to trade up. Galatians 6 says, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up.”
Don’t serve God or live for God or give to God so that you get more… that’s just religiously veiled selfishness… But at the same time God’s Law is the good expression of God’s will for your life. God’s Law is good; and God blesses those who live by His pattern and to His glory. Ephesians teaches us that God gives this-worldly rewards to good and faithful servants: “Honor your father and mother that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” That’s true about all the areas God calls you to steward: time, talents and dollars. In Malachi, God said, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
On the flip side, if you are a faithless manager - don’t be surprised if it’s all taken away. But note: The 1 Talent Servant wasn’t damned for bad money management. His terrible stewardship was a symptom of a faithless contempt for his Master. Our sins do not damn us or no one would be saved. Mark 16 says, “Whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Neither were the good and faithful servants saved by their good performance. The 5 and 2 Talent Servant’s works flowed from a faith and love for the Master.
So God’s Law is good and that’s a fact. Your best life will seek to follow it, not trusting in your performance, but in Jesus’ performance for you in His perfect life, death and resurrection. But that good Law of God also tells it straight: you and I are greedy and selfish to the core. You need a Savior. So, don’t look within yourself to measure your favor with God, and don’t judge by the cash in your wallet or how well you score on your annual physical. The 100% infallible indicator of how you stand before God is the thorned-crowned head of your crucified Savior. 1 Timothy reminds us, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” God loved you as His creation, He redeemed you in Jesus’ blood, and you the Holy Spirit sanctifies to use your life to His glory.
Mike Trout can hit a 100 mph fastball 500 feet. That’s a gift. A baby born with Downs Syndrome may not grow up to do any of the things we think are impressive or important. But the Master holds all His precious children alike in His arms. There is not another you anywhere in the world. You are each vessels of Jesus’ care, equally redeemed in Jesus’ blood and called to be saved by grace through faith for Jesus’ sake. Uniquely loved and precious to the God who “knit you together in your mother’s womb.” You aren’t an accident, and no part of your life escapes His attention. Even the hairs of your head, be they many or few, aren’t beneath God’s concern. Your Savior adored each of you from least to greatest and made His highest good preparing a place for you in His heavenly home through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Heaven has no higher treasure than the sacred blood from our Savior’s veins, and that’s the price He willingly paid to have you as a dearly loved servant in His household.
Each of you is gifted. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Everything you have, from your families, to your mental ability, to your musical talent, to your money is a gift. Nothing you have belongs to you. Psalm 24 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it; the world and all who live in it.”
Your little ones, children or grandchildren, are treasured gifts from God. Your highest responsibility isn’t getting them on a cell phone plan or having the nicest clothes… it’s worshiping and praying and teaching them that their life in Christ is the most important thing. Teaching them to “Store up for themselves treasures in heaven.”
Each person God puts in your life, each breath you draw, each dollar in your wallet is an opportunity to use God’s gifts so that His name be praised and souls saved on the day of Jesus’ coming. 1 Corinthians 6 says, “You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, glorify God with your bodies.” Wretched condemned servants resent anything that doesn’t serve their own end. Good and faithful servants rejoice to give their lives in service to such a Generous, grace-filled Master.
These words of an old hymn are a good prayer for us richly blessed and dearly loved servants of God: “Give me a faithful heart, Likeness to Thee, That each departing day Henceforth may see Some work of love begun, Some deed of kindness done, Some wand’rer sought and won, Something for Thee. All that I am and have Thy gifts so free, In joy, in grief, through life, Dear Lord, for Thee! And when Thy face I see, My ransomed soul shall be Thro’ all eternity Something for Thee. Amen.” (TLH, 403, stanzas 3 &4)
And now may the peace of God which surpasses human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.