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    • Nov23Thu

      Talents? Use em!

      A sermon on Matthew 25 November 23, 2023 by Sebastian Meadows-Helmer

      Siblings in Christ, 

      today we will be reflecting on the parable of the talents, 

      Jesus’ story about a master who entrusted his servants with different amounts of money before he went away on a journey. 

      This parable teaches us about the importance of stewardship and how we are called to use 

      our gifts and talents wisely in service to God.

      This parable, which is both a little frightening, 

      but also encouraging, 

      gives us a sense of what is expected of us:

      We all have responsibilities during the interim period of watchful waiting for the divine bridegroom.

      In today’s parable, 

      we see that the master entrusts five talents to one servant, two talents to another, and one talent to the third servant. 

      Now a talent is a lot of money, 

      about 15 years of wages of a labourer, so, 

      perhaps $750,000 in today’s currency.

      The first two servants used their amounts wisely 

      and were able to double their master's investment. 

      However, the third servant, out of fear, 

      buried his talent in the ground and did not make any profit.

      When the master returned, 

      he commended the first two servants for their faithfulness and rewarded them with even more responsibility. 

      But to the third one, he said, 

      "You wicked and lazy servant! 

      You should have at least invested my money with the bankers so that I could have received it back with interest."

      Now this final servant wasn’t dumb. 

      Hiding money in a hole was in Jesus’ time a conventional, 

      risk-free way to store larger amounts of money. 

      As long as you knew afterwards precisely where the buried treasure was, 

      of course.

      However, this last servant miscalculated 

      what would be appreciated by his master.

      You see, his master didn’t want the servants to hide their talents, 

      but to use them, even in a small way.

      Those first two servants traded with their money, 

      they were willing to take risks.

      They were found trustworthy in a few things, 

      in what they were entrusted with, 

      and they were set in charge of even more things! 

      They had proven their worth to their master.

      At first glance, the talents represent the resources and abilities that God has given us, 

      and the master symbolizes God who entrusts us with these gifts, expecting us to use them for His glory.

      The third servant represents those who are afraid to use their talents and hide them instead of using them for God's kingdom. 

      And just like the master in the parable, 

      God will hold us accountable for how we use our talents.

      John Meier explains: 

      “The spiritual life is not unlike the stock market; 

      nothing is gained without risk and effort. 

      The person who is stingy in how much [they engage in their spiritual life,]

      will receive nothing further and will [even] lose what they have. 

      God’s grace is like our physicallimbs and intellectual talents. Exercise brings greater strength, 

      [while] neglect brings atrophy. 

      The “atrophied disciple” or the useless Christian will be punished,” “Christian laziness comes at a high price.”

      Or in other words: Use it or lose it:

      Use your God-given talents or you’ll lose them.

      Unused gifts are lost.

      So…a little frightening to think about.

      However, the good news is that the majority of the servants were actually seen as good and faithful servants.

      (O Wesley Allen Jr)

      2 of the 3 servants, 66%, were faithful.

      The second servant was seen as faithful as the first, 

      it didn’t matter that he was given less money.

      And really, the master would have even regarded the third servant as faithful if only

      He had gone to the bank with the cash and earned some interest. 

      (O. Wesley Allen Jr)

      So there is hope for us.

      One of the key insights to take from this parable is that we are all entrusted with different talents and resources by God. 

      Each one of us has something unique to offer in service to God and His kingdom. 

      And what counts is not the quantity of talents 

      but rather the faithfulness in using them.

      This teaches us that we should not compare our talents with others, but instead be faithful in using what God has given us.

      It’s not about the amount of accomplishments that people have that makes the difference in God’s eyes, 

      but how loyal they were in their commitment. 

      Did they engage in their spiritual activities whole-heartedly?

      Or were they inactive? (Meier)

      The key characteristic being sought in the Christian life 

      here is responsibility!

      Are we being responsible with what we have been given to steward?

      And of course, not everyone must carry equal loads of responsibility!

      We all have different abilities, individual talents, 

      Varying states of health, different amounts of free time.

      But those to whom much is given, much will be expected.

      So the relevant question for you is:

      Have you carried a spiritual load appropriate to your abilities?

      Have you used your spiritual talents faithfully?

      As followers of Christ we are called to share our blessings and use our time wisely in serving God, as best as we can.

      Rather than spending our time in self-centred idleness or inactivity,

      We should fill this time of watching and waiting for Christ’s coming with meaningful deeds and words of love.

      In our Baptism, we made vows, or vows were made on our behalf

      That we would read the holy scriptures,

      nurture our faith with prayer,

      learn to trust God,

      proclaim Christ through word and deed,

      care for others and the world God made,

      and work for justice and peace.

      It is our Baptismal calling to use our gifts for the greater and common good,

      And the reward is that we will receive greater grace still, 

      and our spiritual muscles will get stronger 

      and our spiritual life will be more fulfilled in turn.

      As we reflect on this parable, let us ask ourselves, 

      what are the talents and resources that God has entrusted us with? 

      Are we using them for the kingdom of God or are we burying them out of fear or laziness? 

      Let us remember that God has given us these talents for a purpose, and it is our responsibility to use them for His glory.



      Cambridge Commentary on Matthew

      New Testament Message: Matthew: John P. Meier

      The HarperCollins Study Bible: Dennis C. Duling

      Matthew; Fortress Press: O. Wesley Allen Jr.

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