THE CLASH

Talk 12: Stewardship vs. Negligence

WELCOME to our happy study of Matthew.

Jesus tells this parable:

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. 16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. 19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ 21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ 22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ 23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

1“Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ 26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ 28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14-30 NLT)

Today, we want to preach the simple message: Don’t lose your biggest blessing.

We will also share three messages from this parable.

Here’s the first one…

The first two servants did the right thing, but the third one didn’t. Not because he did a bad thing— but because he did nothing. It’s not enough to avoid doing bad. Are you doing good?

In the story, the three servants were given a lot of money. A preposterous amount.

How much? Jesus says the Master “gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last…” (v.15)

If you read the original Greek manuscript and do the math, a bag of silver would be what an ancient Jew earned after 20 years of work. Twenty long years! So even if the third servant had only one bag of silver, that’s still a lot of moolah.

This insane amount symbolizes the astronomical blessings that God gives to each of us.

Say it with me: “I’m more blessed than I think I am.”

What does that mean? God trusts you with an ocean of blessings.

And do you know what is your greatest blessing?

Let me shout this from the housetops: The Blesser Himself.

Our problem?

We don’t see how blessed we are.

When we see how our life lacks blessings, we complain we’re poor. But how can we be poor if the Owner of the Universe lives in us?

Truth: When you lack faith, you lack gratitude. Deepen your faith that you may see how blessed you are.

Here’s the second message…

Here’s one question people ask:

“Isn’t the Master in the parable unfair? Why ten bags to the first servant and only one bag to the third servant?”

Jesus says that the Master divided it “in proportion to their abilities.” (v.15)

If you’re as old as I am, I’m sure you know this: Every burden can be a blessing, every blessing can be a burden. Burdens become blessings when they make us stronger and push us closer to God.

But how do blessings become burdens?

Answer: When you can’t handle them.

Can Your Hands, Head, and Heart Handle Them?

So, here’s what I learned: When you pray for blessings, you need to pray for the ability to handle them.

Blessings are what you hold in your hands, head, and heart.

Hand means Receptivity. Many have the capacity to receive the blessing.

But to be good stewards of the blessing, you need more than receptivity.

Head means Wisdom. Without wisdom, you cannot handle the blessings.

Here’s a real-life example: According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70% Lotto winners or those who receive large windfalls go bankrupt within a few years. Because they lack financial wisdom.

Heart means Faithfulness.

Without faithfulness, blessings can destroy your life. And I repeat what I said earlier: Your biggest blessing is God’s Presence.

Don’t lose your biggest blessing.

Context, Context, Context

What is the core message of Matthew?

Look at context.

So, the parable is a single thread in the giant tapestry of the Gospel of Matthew. Reading the parable as a stand-alone story– truncating it from its context– is like removing one wheel from your car.

As is, the wheel is somewhat useful. Perhaps kids can play with it, roll it down a cliff, or tie a rope around it, hang it from a steel frame, and make it a swing.

Cool.

But the wheel can never do what a car can do. The car can bring you to Baguio. The wheel cannot.

In the same way, if you want to receive God’s full message, always read the Bible within its context.

Including this parable of the three servants.

Here’s the third message—which is the core message of the parable…

Here’s the Clue: Before Jesus shared this parable, He talked about how the religious leaders were doing a horrible job being God’s representatives (Talk 9). Because of this, Jesus said that the Jerusalem Temple would be destroyed (Talk 10).

If taken in context, the third servant represents the Pharisees and Sadducees. God left not only a bag of silver. He left them the Temple—the sacred place where God meets His people. But they dug a hole in the ground and buried the Temple. They didn’t use the Temple to be that sacred meeting place between God and Man, especially for the sinner, the broken, the wounded, and the poor. Instead, the Temple became a place of religious pride. Self-righteousness. Greed. Corruption. Exploitation.

And just like what the Master did to the third servant, God had to take away the Temple from these leaders. In the year 70 AD., General Titus and his Roman armies marched into Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple and burned it to the ground.

Today, there is a new Temple.

And you are the Temple.

Because God has decided to live in you. That means you’re the new Holy of Holies. The purpose of your life—your thoughts, words, and actions— is to be the sacred place where God meets His people. God’s Presence is the biggest blessing in your life. Don’t bury His Presence.

Closing: The Opposite Happened

This is how the parable ended: The Master punished the third servant. He said,

“Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

But in reality, it was the opposite that happened. After a few days Jesus told this parable, it was the third servant—the religious leaders—who threw Master Jesus into the darkness of Calvary and the darkness of the Tomb.

Why? Because Jesus is different from the Master in the parable.

Jesus is selfless and sacrificial. He doesn’t take, He gives.

He lays down His life on the Cross for you.

Receive His love today! Don’t lose your biggest blessing.

 

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