November 27, 2016
G2 Living: Gospel Generosity – Week 4 – Time, Talent and Treasure
G2 Living: Gospel Generosity – Week 4 – Time, Treasure and Talent
In this weeks message Matt Pendolino shares with us from Matthew 25:14-30 on the gifts that God has given us and how we use those for His glory.
Today I want to start by sharing a parable from the book of Matthew verse 25: 14-30 called the parable of the Talents. Many of you have likely heard it before, but we are going to break it down a little bit today to understand how it relates to generosity
Matthew 25:14-30King James Version (KJV)
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There are several things we need to understand about this passage as we dig into it. First being that Jesus nearly always spoke in parables when he addressed people, he did it so that he could deliver a deeper message using things people understood.
In this time the Talent was not a coin or a currency, but it was a weight, similar to our ounce today that we use to measure gold or silver. IN a lot of translations they will use the terms “bags of gold” or “bags of silver” , I believe that if Jesus were telling the parable today he would use the term “an once of gold” we all can relate to that can’t we?
What we have to understand though is that he was not talking about money , and I think this is where the term “talent” is much more useful in understanding the deeper meaning because the word “talent” today has a totally different meaning doesn’t it. Today the word talent relates to a skill or a gifting and that my friends is exactly what Jesus was trying to convey.
This is a brilliant example of why the bible is referred to as “the living word” because it uses a term common over 2 thousand years ago to relate an idea, the same idea that the word actually means today.
Paul speaks of this in :
Romans 12: 6-8
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with an much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to other, do it gladly.
You see each and every one of us is born into this world with a talent, or more accurately, a “spiritual gifting”. Some of us discover it very early in life, maybe we are musically skilled or very good at math or an exceptional athlete. Many of us have to search a lot longer to find our gifting and still some of us never really find it because we get caught up in the ways of the world. The “responsibility” that put demands on us that take us away from our gifting and force us to “work the system” in order to get by.
If we were talking about things of the world, then we could relate this parable well couldn’t we. When our “talents” or spiritual gifts are discovered as children or while we are still in school, we can use those gifts to achieve higher means, get scholarships to college, and even gain a career in that field . We can take those “5 talents” and turn them into many, enough to sustain us in this world for a life time. Those who discover their “talents” after they get into the world, maybe because of a job they have or a situation they fell into, they too can often make them work to their advantage, take their “3 talents” and use them to better their position. Maybe learn they are good at sales, or good at building or good at taking care of children, then they excel at that field and can sustain themselves in the world . And then there are those who never really find their talent at all, can’t hold a job, stay unemployed, live in their parents basements and simply never excel, but just stagnate through life, never becoming more, never giving anything back. Keeping their “1 talent” of self sustaining and just burying it in a hole.
So that’s the worldly understanding of what Jesus was saying here. But what do we know about things of the world? They do not last do they and if all we do is focus on what we have and what we need to do to “get by” or “be successful in the world” well then my friends we are truly missing the deeper point of this message.
Originally in this parable the whole attention is focused on the “useless servant”, and when Jesus shared it that man represented the scribes and the pharisees of the time and their attitude towards the law and the truth of God. The whole aim of the scribes and pharisees back then was to keep the law exactly as it was, to put a fence around it and protect it from change or growth. IN a way it was another example of Jesus “poking the bear” but at the same time delivering a vital truth that change and growth need to happen, even in the rules of law. Paul recounted this in ….
Galatians 2: 15 & 21
….because no man can ever put himself right with God by doing the works that law lays down…..for if I can get right with God by means of the law, then Christ died quite unnecessarily.
Now here is another example of how the bible is a “living word” because that “useless servant” is still the main target of this parable, except today it does not apply to scribes and pharisees, NO, today that useless servant is the person who get’s the gift of God, shares in the light of the Holy Spirit, then rather than share it and “grow it” they keep it to themselves and do not grow in it. That’s how I was …..for a long time…..I was given the gift of the Holy Spirit, taught to understand Gods will for me….then just kept it to myself and continued to do things….MY WAY.
When you share what you know about Christ, when you spread the love and “earn” more from your talents you continue to be put in position to do more. In this parable, when the men who doubled their gifts were given more, they were not told to just sit back and enjoy the profits of their deeds….NO, they were elevated to a position to be ruler of many things, promoted as we understand it today, and with that comes even more work and more responsibility. Because once you discover your gift, you have to continue to use it in order to gain from it or you will loose it.
If your a musician you don’t just learn a song and be done with it, you have to practice every day, stay sharp and challenge your self to write new songs. If you are a scientist you do not just make one discovery and call it a career do you, no, you continue to try and make new discoveries, same with an athlete, you practice in order to continue to strive for greater achievements. But again, these are things of the world and what do we know about things of the world ….they do not last do they?
We see that mentioned in the book of Matthew 6:19 which says :
“Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
You see things of this world do not last, jobs don’t last forever, some can, but most do not. If you are a musician or an athlete that too can be taken from you, maybe an injury or just the wears of age and time. Professional athletes peak in their 20’s, some do well enough to “get by” the rest of their lives but many find themselves lost and without purpose when their playing days end. And while we are today seeing an abundance of over aged musicians still playing away, there are ten times as many “one hit wonders” who hit a peak and fall much faster then they ever rose…..because things of the world DO NOT LAST.
I feel it’s really summed up best in 1 John 2:15-16
Don’t love this evil world or the things in it. If you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. This is all there is in the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. But none of these comes from the Father. They come from the world.
And friends this is where we really need to focus today because so many of us are caught up in the understanding that we need to figure out what we are good at so we can “get by in this world” “earn a living” or “get out of my basement”
So we get a job or find a skill or do something we love in order to gain the things we want and need to survive on our own. But here’s the catch to all that, if we have faith, if we trust and love in God, then he will provide for us all that we need. I shared that last time I preached when I spoke about Jealousy, how if we let go of what we want, and we trust in God to give us what we “Need” then we will never want for anything again.
And that my friends takes a lot of faith, a “great leap of faith” to discover your talent and use it to please God and not just to “support your family” or get by. Yes, we all need to do that on some base level. I can’t just quite my job and say “OK God provide for me”, but I can integrate the two, make my living and when I am not working use my talents to please God, because what happens then is an amazing Process, God will deliver you to where you are supposed to be and a time will come when you can take that leap and do it all for God, if that is what he really has planned for you. We have to have faith, but we have to be wise as well.
So I am going to share with you how this process has worked in my life, because I am a living testament to all of you about how God can really change you and take you to a much higher level then you can ever achieve on your own. I’m starting to see now that is why I am at this church in the here and now. I do not believe in my heart that this is where God intends for me to stay, but rather that this is a very important step in me going from the “Matt that I was” to “the Matt I am meant to be” or as I like to refer to it….Gods Matt. And not only does it bless me, but I get to bless all of you along the way, that’s how awesome our God is, that’s how much he loves each of you. You see there is a reason Rod and I have been brought together, and while I do not yet understand the fullness of it, I can already see the immediate results.
Rod is a great pastor, a great teacher of the word. He has spent most of his adult life dedicated to learning about God so that he could share God. He used his spiritual gifting of music to grow and to ultimately achieve that goal, but he is not stopping. Just because he is now a head pastor, he’s not going to just sit back in his chair , kick his legs up and say “ahhhh, finally made it”….how long do you think that would last. No, he will now use the position he has to continue to grow, teach and strive to be more, and we will all be blessed for that.
Now me, I took a much different course to get to where I am today, I took a course that many of you have taken, I took a course based on “self need” and personal gain…yet here I am today, standing on the same stage as Rod, delivering a word of God to the same people as he….that is how awesome our God is.
I learned my “spiritual gift” back when I was in High School. I began to understand that I had a very good ability to “listen” and then to be able to use what I heard to help people understand. I used it to help my friends when they were in duress, I used it to help my sister a lot, be her sounding board when she wanted to understand men better….and ohhh yes, I used it in dating…yep, sure did, a guy who can listen, woman ate that stuff up. And had I had faith in God all those years ago, I am certain he would have lead me to where I am today much sooner in life, but I did not, I did not have faith in God, I lived in the world and as such I used those “talents” not to please God, but to get the things I wanted. I learned to use that gift to lie, to cheat, to manipulate people so that I could have more “things” , so that I could “demand my own way” and as I entered the corporate work world, I discovered that that “talent” helped me to achieve higher status in the work place, earn more money, have more things. I’m not proud of it, and am certainly not standing here today bragging about it, in fact where I am in the here and now, I am ashamed of a lot of the things I did “just to get by” or to get ahead, but I can’t change the past, but I can learn from it. Remember, the key to sinning less is to identify when you sin. Just by feeling that shame, I understand my sin and am less likely to repeat it. And here’s the real “catch” Everything I gained and achieved through living that manipulative life….It’s all gone now. I do not have the job I had, I do not have the houses I lived in or the toys that I collected, I do not have one single thing from that life because none of it was from following Gods will for me, it all came by me pursuing my will, and yet I am happier now than I ever was then. In fact, I can honestly say that I have less now than at just about any point since I was a young man, but have never felt as complete and content as I do in the here and now, and that’s the straight up truth of this whole thing.
And while for most of my adult life, I always felt the need to feel “in control” of where I was going and where I wanted to be, I no loner have that burden and I am so grateful I do not. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have no idea what tomorrow will hold, I have no idea “where I am going” but I have never felt so sure that where I am going is where God wants me, and that excites me and lifts me up out of bed each and every day.
Here’s a good analogy for that process. A few weeks back I got to take my boys on a Cub Scout outing to the Baltimore harbor and we stayed the night on a US Coast Guard ship. While there we learned about how the ship ran and how each sailor had to rely on other sailors to do their job to be successful. You see, the man who was driving the ship, the captain, he did not see where he was going. He was told where he needed to be, but from where he sat, he had no view of the horizon. What he did have was a man on a radar, a man in a crows nest, a man in the map room. He had orders coming to him from a higher power…in this case a general or admiral, knowing where he had to be, he relied on the other sailors to give him the information he needed to get them where they were going. Each sailor had a skill and used it to do their part to drive the boat.
You see, a church is very similar. We have a captain, our pastor, and he gets his orders from a higher power dosen’t he ? But he can’t drive the boat all by himself, he needs each of us to do our part to grow the church, and you see, we get to decide what kind of boat we want to be on. We could be a pleasure ship, a place we go to relax, take a break from life, chat with our friend and tell people at work about how we “go to church” and just kind of muddle from port to port….but you see, that’s not the kind of boat I want to be on, I want to be on a battleship, a boat that serves and protects and goes to all corners of the world floating on the Spiritual Sea, fighting Gods fight. SO I’m using my gifting to contribute to that, to “recruit” other sailors to get on board. And maybe this boat won’t be that battle ship, maybe this boat is just a tug boat or a pleasure cruiser, but that’s up to each one of us, because the boat is what the crew is, in the case of the church, it is what we are.
Maybe this “boat” will never be a battleship, and if that’s where I need to be and God does not see it happening, he’ll move me to a battleship, but I believe that if each of us challenges our self to understand our spiritual gift and use it , here in this church, to honor God, that we will all see the results and we will grow and we will be that battleship for God.
It starts with Faith, believing in the “orders” coming down from upstairs, then it gets stronger as we each learn our spiritual “skills” and contributes them to the mission of the boat.
For the first time in my life, I am not just a stagnant pool of water, no…now I am a river, I am on the move and along the way I am feeding things, feeding people with the truths that I am living. I see what is happening in my life, and I share it with others, I listen to what is going on around me and I feed it back. I am living on faith and doing Gods will, not because I strived to do so from a very young age like Rod did…not at all. I am here now BECAUSE I relied on things of the world, BECAUSE I used my spiritual gifts for personal gain and BECASUE I lost it all along the way and realized that there was a better way, and this my friends is what I want for each and ever one of you to understand as well.
And it’s not easy, ohhh no it’s not, not for one second. But doing Gods work never is and never was. Just this week in the men’s bible study we got to talking about Paul and all the suffering he endured while doing Gods work, In fact let’s read it from
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
So the next time you want to complain about your “hard day”, check back in with Paul…….but in all of that, how many people did he save? And even today, thousands of years later, his words and his understanding of God are still saving people…how amazing is that.
IN my life, right now, I am being attacked a lot. In fact right now, more so than ever. I stand here today under the cloud of the very real possibility that I may soon loose all that I have, yet again. I may be jailed for owing money and as a result of that could loose my business, my home, maybe even my right to see my children. I have someone in my life trying to take everything I have in order to hurt me….and that should scare me to death, but you know what…it does not. Because no matter how hard that person tried, they can’t hurt me, they can take everything I own in this world right down to my rights as a father, but they can never, ever touch what God is doing to me. And maybe I will end up in jail, but you know what, while I’m there, I will minister to people, and if I have no people to minister to, then I will read my bible, and if I am not allowed my bible then I will spend the time in prayer with god and in song to honor him, because I know, without a single doubt in my heart, that where ever this world puts me, God will use me. And whenever what ever difficulty I face now finally passes, and it will pass, they all do, that I will be stronger and better for it and be in a better position to sever Gods will.
I love the way it’s put in
1 Peter 5:9-10 Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
THAT my friends, is what living in the spirit will do for you, THAT is the difference between using what you have to gain for yourself, being that “useless servant” and using what you have and giving it back to God. No matter what this world takes from you, no matter how hard it tried to pull you down and break your will, they can NEVER take what God has given. And that is what I want to see each and every person here today to understand and live.
And again in
James 1:2-4 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
I am a living testament to the glory of God, and I am honored to be able to stand here today and let each and every one of you KNOW , that it’s real. Its not easy, it’s not always pleasant, but it can never be taken away from you and there is no greater feeling in the world then realizing that. And when you get there, you are no longer burdened with the worry, the petty things, tossing and turning at night wondering how you’ll get by, because you realize, that no matter what the world may do to you, God will put you on that solid ground.
For more from this series you can CLICK HERE.