How to Make Each Day Spiritually Productive
Sunday, May 5, 2013 -
Matthew 25:14-30 - ďFor it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.  So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.  But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.  Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'  His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.'  His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'  He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,  so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.'  But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed and gather where I scattered no seed?  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'Ē
Verse 14 begins with that little word ďforĒ - ďFor it will be like a man going on a journey...Ē This is Jesusí deliberate attempt to link this parable to the previous one about the wise and foolish virgins. That whole parable dealt with the need for readiness when the bridegroom came. Itís not enough that your lamp was bright and burning at one time. Wise Christians will live life constantly expectant, and prepared for the coming of Jesus.
This next parable picks up the same theme of readiness for the Lordís Coming. The master is going away on a long trip. Before he leaves, he comes to recruit his servants and entrust them with responsibility. He wants to make sure his interests will be properly looked after in his absence. Jobs and responsibilities are assigned.
And so the Lord has come to each of us. He has made us His own. We have been purchased by redemption and called into discipleship. This parable teaches we have not only been forgiven, we have been assigned tasks and equipped for those tasks. The same master who came once to recruit and entrust, will come again to assess and account with each servant very personally and carefully.
So, like the parable of the ten bridesmaids, this parable too is a lesson on readiness. But that readiness is further explained and defined. Readiness involves more than just waiting. It involves energetic, disciplined investment of time, effort and resources. Thatís what the master will be looking for when he comes back to his servants.
1) SALVATION IS NOT ONLY THE RECEIVING OF GRACE - IT IS THE GIVING UP OF RIGHTS AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW OWNERSHIP
Matthew 25:14 - ďFor it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.Ē
The important words in that verse are, ďwho called his servants...Ē Heís not asking, heís assigning. There is nothing optional in the tasks heís giving out. The slaves canít ignore the masterís commission without threat of great penalty.
So the issue of Lordship is taken out of mere religious tokenism and placed in a realm that would have been clearly understood in an age where masters owned and controlled many slaves.
And, without any question, we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are meant to understand Lordship in the way Jesus framed in this parable. Jesus is saying it is pointless to take His Name on our lips and claim His Lordship if we donít, on a daily basis, submit our wills to His:
Luke 6:46 - ďWhy do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?Ē
Thatís a very good question. What is the point in calling Jesus Lord, if His will isnít supreme. What kind of Lordship is that? I canít proclaim His Lordship without acknowledging my servanthood. And Iím meant to see that right at the beginning of this parable. This is not a story of a friend dealing with another friend. Itís not a parable about a neighbor dealing with another neighbor. Itís all about a master dealing with a slave.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - ďOr do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.Ē
The first and greatest lesson in the school of discipleship is that you are not your own once you proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. Nothing about your life can be lived on your own terms anymore.
2) EVERY BLESSING FROM THE LORD IS MORE THAN A GIFT TO BE RECEIVED. IT IS A TEST OF STEWARDSHIP
Matthew 25:15-18 - ďTo one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.  So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.  But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.Ē
There are several big ideas in these four verses:
a) Every person received freely from the masters hand. Itís important to note that no one was left out. Even one talent was more money than most people would ever see. We know from the parable of the laborers in the vineyard that one denarius was considered a fair dayís wage. And one talent was the equivalent to ten thousand denarii. In other words, one talent would equal a lifetime of wages for most people.
Weíre meant to see in this parable that even the least endowed was gifted far beyond belief or expectation. There is great grace right from the first moment of this story. What trust the master puts in his servants. What involvement they all have in the masterís estate.
Jesus wants you to know that you have much to work with in His kingdom. You have not been left out of His plans. You have much to offer - much to develop - much to invest in His kingdom. People who donít realize this will live lazy Christian lives. There is such a tendency to hide the light under a bushel. Jesus warns against this.
There is absolutely no question about your ability to put much into Godís kingdom. The only question is your willingness and your obedience.
b) We are not all equally gifted. Life is different for each of us. Opportunities vary. One received five talents. One received two talents. And another received only one.
But Iíll tell you what you never see in this story. You never see the master comparing what the five talent person did with what the two talent person did. Jesus doesnít compare us this way and we shouldnít either. Itís so easy to dream about what you would do if you had been given someone elseís chances, or someone elseís resources.
Or itís easy to allow silent bitterness to grow in your heart because someone else can do something better than you can. They get asked to sing more than you do. Or they play an instrument better than you. Nothing will rob your life of joyful fruitfulness in Jesus more than this sin of measuring your life by the talents given to another. Iím not my brotherís master. Jesus is his master.
Iíve often wondered if part of this reason this one talent servant buried his talent in the ground was the fear that he wouldnít make much of a showing compared to the one given five talents.
Listen to me. There is something you can do in Godís kingdom very well. You are urgently needed in Christís church. You have been saved and placed in this body by design. Donít join the scores of Christians who never find the joy of doing what they were saved and gifted to do.
This parable teaches a huge, neglected truth - you were not only saved from sin. You were saved to service. If youíre going to claim salvation at all, you must be a servant - literally a slave (ďdolousĒ) of the Master.
c) Unless you explain away the plain wording of Jesusí story, the use of time and the use of money are the areas Jesus singled out as the test of our servanthood.
The servants were entrusted with talents (money), and they were left to work with an unspecified amount of time. How well they did with those two entrusted gifts determined how they would be assessed when the master returned.
Nothing establishes your identity in this world like those two ingredients. Money is the measurement of what you are able to do. Time is how long you can do it. And the message of this parable from our Lord is you canít serve Him in a way that will be ready for His coming without a radical, sizeable investment of both your time and your wealth in His Kingdom.
There are only two ways of viewing life. Either you view life from the principle of ownership, or you view it from the principle of stewardship. Stewards donít own wealth. They manage it for the master. Stewards donít schedule their own time. They serve the agenda of the master. Jesus doesnít have owners. He only has stewards.
3) ALL WHO PROFESS CHRIST WILL BE JUDGED ON THE BASIS OF THEIR STEWARDSHIP
Matthew 25:19 - ďNow after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.Ē
At the masterís first meeting he bestows (see his grace!) freely upon all his servants. At his second meeting he reckons with them on the basis of what they had earlier received. Itís a mistake to think that judgement will be based on what we have received from the Lord. The Bible (Jesus, Himself) teaches that we will be judged, not by what we have received from Jesus, but by what we have done with what we received.
Notice, the one talent servant didnít lose what the master had given him. He had, in tact, all that he had been given. What he didnít have to show was a life of service with what he had been given. He had not done anything with it. He had not produced and multiplied for his master.
He never understood the assignment. That was his problem. He never understood what he was being called to. Perhaps he thought it was enough to have received something from his master and hold on to it.
This is a big problem in todayís church. Watch the religious stuff on television. Isnít the emphasis, for the most part, on what we receive from the Lord? Miracles. Healing. Prosperity. Gold fillings. Deliverance from oppression. You name it. And there is certainly nothing wrong with receiving anything from the gracious hand of God. He loves to give good gifts to His children.
What I am more concerned about is a misplaced focus. Iím more concerned about what isnít being said than what is. The emphasis is all on getting what we need and want out of our relationship with Jesus - ďI donít go to that church anymore. I didnít get much out of it. I get so much more out of this one.Ē
And then, all of the sudden, we hear this word of Jesus Himself - the One who will be coming back. And He says we will be assessed - reckoned with - and eternally judged - on the basis of what we have invested for the Master, rather than on what we have received.
True, we start with what is freely given. We all begin by grace. But we are assessed, not by what we have been given, but by what we have done with what we have been freely given.
Weíre going to look at the anger of the master with this servant who hid his talent in the ground more in the next message. But itís enough to note that the reason the masterís anger is justified is this. The servant, knowing he was a servant, should have been living differently than he did. The master calls this servant wicked, and the master calls this servant lazy.
I donít ever want to hear those words from Jesus.
Do you want to make each day spiritually productive? Remember that youíre a steward and not an owner. Remember that you have been given enough by the Lord to accomplish His purpose. And finally, live each day thinking about the Masterís return. Do today what you will be proud of then.