Given November 13, 2011 at Parkside Community Church.  Whereas I usually like to have two weeks to prepare a sermon, I was given five days notice to prepare this sermon.  You decide if I can interpret God’s word any better if I have 14 or 5 days.

Matthew 25:4-30
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’



The two things Jesus talks most about are the Kingdom of Heaven and Money.  This Biblical passage about one of those, but not the one you might think.

This story is not about money.  And to the many of you who already knew that, thank you for not saying “DUH!”  Frankly, I didn’t realize this until I began researching this wonderful parable.

To the Jews who heard this story originally, the relation between them and God was constantly represented as that of “lord” and “slaves.”  Someone in the time of Jesus, hearing the parable for the first time, would understand it in regard to their relationship with God.  Those of us less attuned, two thousand years later, require a bit more work to understand the underlying meaning.

However, here in the 21st century, the message is just as important to us as it was to our first century brothers and sisters.  We are all given blessings by God – some of you may get “five” blessings and others of us will get “one.”  God knows us and will not give us more than we can understand and use.  “Each to his own ability.”

In our story, the rewarded workers in our story had gone “straight away” to work.  They did not know how long their master would be gone and knew it was necessary to begin working right away.

The third servant in our story – the “wicked servant” – is representative of the pious Pharisee in Jesus’ time, who hoards the light of God and keeps it for himself. He was the type of religious leader in Jesus’ time who did not believe that the Kingdom of Heaven was open to everyone.  He hid his bag of gold and – like blessings that go unshared – received nothing for it.

I would hope that the message is clear to us today.  We too must go “straight away” to work in sharing the Good News, for no one knows the time or day when Jesus the Master will return.  We cannot sit in church, hear the Good News, nod knowingly and then go about our business as if the rest of the world doesn’t matter. Blessings grow with use and we are duty-bound to grow our blessings.

The blessings we are given by God is not a reflection of who we are or how good a person we are, but what God believes we can handle.  If I have one gift and you have five, I should not be jealous nor should you be boastful. God gives each to her own ability.

You may know someone who is an excellent cook.  That is her one blessing and it is a blessing s/he shares often.  Then you look at a person like our mayor, Kevin Johnson.  Whatever your view of him is as a person or a politician, you can’t deny he has been blessed with many gifts – athleticism, academic achievement for himself and in encouraging others, and political leadership.  Yet we know that God loves Aunt Greta just as much as God loves Kevin Johnson.  I offer this example of someone we all know – Kevin Johnson, not my Aunt Greta – but there are many such people in your life.

What matters is that you know your blessings and, most importantly, put them to work to serve God.  And you must trust – if not me, than God – that you have blessings.  Paul writes in Romans 12:  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

Paul repeats this theme in his first letter to Corinth:  There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

If you do not yet know the blessings you have, seek them out through prayer and self-evaluation, because every one of you has a gift.  Maybe it is in music, like Janet or our beautiful choir members.  Maybe it is in electronics, like Henny, or sharing the Gospel, like Bob.  Last week we had a wonderful talent show that lasted two hours!  TWO HOURS!  Were any of you bored?  NO – because every one of you has a talent!  Every one of you has a gift.

Now, very likely, your gift is used outside of church. If you are a typist, then type!  If you drive a truck, then drive it for Jesus!  Each to his own ability.

Now if you are a typist and would rather drive trucks, then get out there and drive trucks.  If you make a killer Peppermint Mocha but would rather be teaching history, find a way to make that happen.  And in doing all those things, do it with a glad heart and in service to the Lord.  These are your blessings, your talents, your bags of gold.  By investing in them, you will now only grow in the Lord, but others will see your blessings and be blessed by them, perhaps bringing them to Christ also.

Whatever your gift is, you must use it.  Even if you think it is menial, use it to serve and you will be rewarded when the Master returns.  God does not reward genius or wealth or strength.  God rewards faithfulness.

“Ooh, but I’m not ready to do God’s teachings!”  So what!  Get out there and do!  If our parents waited until they were ready, none of us would be born!  So it is in preparing for the second coming – get out and do!  The third servant wasn’t punished for doing wrong. He was punished for doing nothing.

Jesus tells us “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”  Get to work.  Know that God trusts us more than we trust ourselves. If we follow God’s directions as we learn them from the Bible, I can promise you this as it has been promised to me.  Someday, you will hear the most loving voice you can imagine say, “Well done – good and faithful servant.”