Lord God, may the thoughts of my heart and the words of my mouth be useful to ourselves and acceptable to You, through Jesus Christ, who is our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
The parable of the talents; we should not have too much trouble understanding this particular parable. The King in this parable is clearly our Lord, who has gone to sit at the right hand of the father and will return, we know not when, to judge the living and the dead. You will note that in this parable the king gives to each servant according to his own personal ability. God only asks of us that which we are able to give; not just willing to give but also able to give. We know that God cares for us; God wants us to prosper from our labour. God has something for each of us to do. Many of you are already doing it. But many of us are still sitting on the sidelines, waiting, going off on a tangent, getting distracted, and I don’t excuse myself from that group. We must pray for guidance and inspiration and ask that the Holy Spirit will guide us towards the task that God has set aside for us and remember, go on asking. If we don’t ask properly how can we expect to receive? Remember Daniel had to pray constantly for 21 days before his prayers were answered, (Daniel 10)
Now there is a danger here for us as Christians that right from the very beginning we can be led astray. To each according to his personal abilities; so we will each receive not only a different talent but also a different task and one of the dangers to us is that we will focus not on our own tasks and talents but will look with envy or disdain upon the gifts of others. I would bring to your attention our Lord’s advice on this by reminding you of the lesson from Matthew 20. The vineyard owner hires different workers at different times of the day but at the end of the day He pays all the workers the same wage, much to the irritation of some of those workers. God replies,
Matthew 20:14-16.Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this man hired last the same as I give to you. Am I not permitted to do what I choose with what is mine? Or do you begrudge my being generous? Is your eye evil because I am good? So those who now are last will be first then, and those who now are first will be last then. For many are called but few are chosen.
This is where the injunction to trust God is very important. God will bless you in your best interests and there is a very good chance that you will not at first recognise that. If your gift is dancing and God has given you a pair of hobnailed boots then there is almost certainly a lesson he wants you to learn before you start to dance. Trust in God.
So, which servant are we going to be? I think the warning for us all is “don’t be the third servant”! The third servant feared his master because he never really got to know him. He saw the façade of a master who reaps where he has not sown and gathers where he has not winnowed. If he had taken the time and trouble to get to know his master better then he would have known that there was a more fruitful way to use the talent he had been given. He would have known that his master was a man who would have accepted the fruits of the servant’s limited abilities, but the third servant lived a life limited by his fears and took the fearful way out and squandered the opportunity his master had given him. There is a lesson here for us all. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if our Lord was to walk in that door right now and sadly sometimes the answer is that I may very well run and hide. Could it be said that the third servant feared to stand before his master and that’s why he never really got to know Him. Never forget that when we stand before the judgement seat The Lord will base His judgement upon our whole journey; not just the last lap. The way we ran the first lap will affect the way we run the last lap. We never really lose our baggage. Every lap matters so try not to leave your best effort till the last five yards. I don’t know how many times it says in the bible have no fear, but I think it must be quite a few times. Don’t be the third servant.
Each and every one of us has a gift from God for a particular task.
Ephesians 4:11. And His gifts were varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us, some to be apostles (special messengers), some to be prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, travelling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers.
The point of today’s sermon is to try and encourage ourselves to make sure we use the talent God has given us. Plant your seed and tend it while it grows. But remember the warnings we are given.
Galatians 6:7. Do not be deceived deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions or by His precepts being set aside). He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God. For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap.
Sow with faith and love and purpose; listen out for the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, guiding and advising you; and never forget if you want the Holy Spirit to talk to you then you have to start the conversation. Learn to discern the whispering voice of the Holy Spirit from the voice of our enemy sowing doubts and lies. Remember some of the four most common words the enemy will whisper into your ear are “thou art not able”. These were the words King Saul said to David when he offered to fight Goliath and we should let that be an example for us all. David had faith and trust in the Lord and acted upon that faith and trust. That is the lesson I want to learn and I hope you will learn and put into practice from today’s Gospel.
Never forget ‘as you sow so shall you reap’. If you sow anger and discord you will never reap peace. Know the seed which you are planting. And once you have found your seed plant the seed; start that project; take that class; apply for that job; ask the girl to marry you; ask the guy to marry you; take that leap of faith; step forward and hold out your hand in friendship or kindness. Once you’ve walked by that homeless person it is very, very hard to turn back. I speak from experience. If you leave your seed in your pocket it will eventually die and wither away. God may give you another seed but you cannot take that for granted and we also have no idea how many are our days to plant our seed and harvest our crop; so don’t be the third servant. The clock never stops ticking.
And remember there are material seeds and there are spiritual seeds and God may give you both or just one. It is after all His plan, not yours. But you can be certain that the seed He gives you will be the best seed for you and for those around you. Don’t be like the third servant, who allowed his fears to dictate his actions. Always remember that with God all things are possible. It is never guaranteed that your harvest will be bountiful, it is possible that you may fail, it may be that all you will meet with is obstruction and hostility but that’s ok. You will benefit from the endeavor; if not materially then certainly spiritually. Store up your treasure in Heaven, where it won’t rust or rot away.
Be aware that what God is calling you to do isn’t going to be just an amusing hobby. It has to be a part of your Christian witness; you should work to make it an integral part of your life in Christ. It will very probably not be a punishing or impossible task.
Mathew 11:30. For my yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing; but comfortable gracious and pleasant) and my burden is light and easy to be borne.
But it will be important to you and to those around you and I believe that all God asks of us is that we try our best.
Sow your seeds in Christ and persevere to the end. Watch that you don’t allow yourself to be distracted or discouraged, because our enemy will be certain to plant some tares in your field; weeds that look like wheat; hidden problems; traps and snares. Pray constantly to God to help you find these weeds because our enemy is devious and he’s had a lot of practice, and we haven’t. There is only have one way for us of countering the wiles of our enemy; prayer.
One week without prayer will make one weak. Your relationship with God is absolutely determined by the quality of your prayer life. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to be unceasing in prayer. Remember, limiting your life with Christ to simply coming to church will limit your relationship with Him. Your faith life is a journey with God; a relationship that God wants you to have with Him; not for His benefit, never think that, but for yours. Make your prayer life as useful and fulfilling as you can. Take time with it. Have a real conversation. Don’t just check in now and then.
When we fall to our knees in prayer our enemy takes to his heels in fright. If you can’t think of anything to say then don’t say anything just listen; or perhaps read your bible and pray about what you have read. Remember the bible will take you from sin (provided you pray about what you have read) or sin will take you from the bible. My own personal experience of prayer is that I never noticed how I was benefitting until I looked back. There is a saying that children spell love T I M E. We should probably have this attitude to our prayer life as God’s adopted children through the once and for all perfect sacrifice of His only begotten son Jesus. Be careful to set aside time for your prayers with God. Don’t worry about the quality of your prayer, remember there are almost seven billion of us in this world and God understands each and every one of us. Worry about the quantity of your time in prayer. I would venture to suggest that you don’t think of it as prayer with God but time with God. If you don’t actually set aside time then you will rush it; you may end up doing all the talking and never listening. We should never forget that we would do well to spend more of our time in prayer listening than in talking; two ears one mouth. So, pray to God; find your talent and use it; pray to God to help your talent prosper because the enemy wants you to fail, and eventually, God willing, we will gather in our crops in the Kingdom of God. Amen.