14???For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them;??15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.??16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents.??17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents.??18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master???s money.??19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.??20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ???Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.?????21His master said to him, ???Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.?????22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ???Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.???23His master said to him, ???Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.?????24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ???Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed;??25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.?????26But his master replied, ???You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter???27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest.??28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents.??29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.??30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.???
I want to give you the last sentence of this message now: "More than anything, I want to hear, ???Well done, my good and trustworthy servant.???
What we have in our story is three servants, meant to represent you and I. ??The Master is Jesus, the one who is going away only to return later after a period of time. ??When He returns, he expects to find His servants having been productive with the gifts that He has bestowed upon them. ??For two of them, they have taken what the Lord has equipped them with, in this case money, and multiplied it through investment. ??When the Lord finds them and calls upon them to collect, they have something to show for their time.
But then we have the third servant, one who though he had been given less than the others, was still expected to turn a profit from what he had. ??But what happens? ??The servant takes the money and hides it. ??Instead of investing the gift to increase the amount, he becomes lazy and does nothing with what has been given to him. ??While the master was gone, what was happening to the money entrusted to the slave? ??Nothing. ??The money sat still…and so did the servant in regards to his responsibility.
This servant had two problems:??
1) He misinterpreted who his master was. ??If he indeed believed that the master was a harsh man, he would have tried extra-hard to turn a profit with the money given him or else there would have been consequences. ??This misinterpretation, though, seems to be more intentional than accidental. ??The servant blames the master's supposed 'harshness' as his excuse for not doing the work. ??The master calls him out when he says in vs.26-27, You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. ??
See this, too, that the servant never said he was sorry, but only tried to place blame on the master in saying he was harsh, when in truth the servant himself was lazy. ??If we deny OUR responsibility, if we place blame on someone or something else, not only will we have what has been given to us taken away, but we will be rejected and cast out, as we see in vs.29-30. ??The service that we have been entrusted to is no light matter. ??This ought to bring pause into each of our lives by helping us see that life is great but very serious, too. ??People are dying all around us, starving and in pain, losing their jobs, their homes, their relationships. ??This should be a sobering moment for all of us as we seriously consider the real pain that exists. ??And it begs the question, "What are we doing to alleviate the pain?" ??How are we attempting to bring healing and hope into the world? ??Are we sharing the good news and making disciples?
2) This gives way to the servant's second problem. ??He knew that something should be done with the money but instead went and hid it. ??There is little difference between knowing what NOT to do but doing it anyway and knowing what TO do and not doing it. ??St. John Chrysostom said it best this way:
Do you see how sins of omission also are met with extreme rejection? ??It is not only the covetous, the active doer-of-evil-things and the adulterer, but also the one who fails to do good. ??Let us listen carefully then to these words. ??As we have opportunity, let us work to cooperate with our salvation. ??Let us get oil for our lamps. ??Let us labor to add to our talent.
No, we cannot earn our salvation and we cannot work our way into heaven, but a fruitful life is the product of a heart connected and aligned with God. ??We work because that is what love compels us to do. ??We share the good news because we have good news in our hearts. ??We work because God first worked for us. ??We love because God first loved us.
The point of it all is that we be found by God having used our time wisely, busy about what he has left us to do. ??As the DS reminded us yesterday at Charge Conference, we have nothing else to do but to tell our story, the story of Jesus Christ and his love. ??The great talent, the great prize we have to invest is a transformed life. ??If we have within us a divine love that can ease pain and give hope, then we must give that love and invest it in other people in the absence of our master.
For as we know, the master will return, and the question will be asked, "What have you done with the gospel I have entrusted to you?" ??Will you be able to answer the question with a life well-lived? ??Is your life being invested in others? ??Will other people be the product of your work, of telling your story of how God has changed you, changed your heart, and given you hope?!
Will you spend your time wisely? ??Will you come and learn more about your Bible, about your faith, about your church? ??Will give of your heart to this community? ??Will you seek ways to be involved? ??If your talent is in the ground this morning, take it out and invest it for the master. ??Because, really, it belongs to Him in the first place. ??Be faithful with it and honor the gift and the time you have.
What will God say when He returns from His journey? ??More than anything, I want to hear, ???Well done, my good and trustworthy servant.???
Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor,??New Liberty United Methodist Church