Printable PDF: 1-17-2021 Stewardship 2 Sermon
Pastor Mark R Jacobson ~ 10-for-10 Stewardship Emphasis
Stewardship 2 Sermon ~ January 14, 2021 ~ Matthew 25:14-23
14“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15To 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. 16The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The 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.’ 21“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!’ 22“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.’ 23“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!’
WHAT REALLY MATTERS IS KNOWING THE MASTER
The day was September 22, the year, 1776. He had been discovered and arrested as a spy, and he was due to be hanged on a British gallows. That was when Captain Nathan Hale rather famously stated, “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Is it possible that you would have such a feeling and make a similar statement as a believer in Jesus? — It’s too bad that I have only this one life that I can live for God!
This Gospel story of the three servants is meant for us as much as anybody. Jesus told this story in anticipation of his own “journey” – the journey that would lead to his death on the cross and continue with his ascension to the right hand of God. The culmination of his journey will be on Judgment Day when Jesus comes again to establish, once and for all, the kingdom of heaven that will have no end.
The story Jesus told obviously turns on the big difference between the two faithful servants and the one unfaithful servant. What was it that made such a difference in how they acted? It’s not really even suggested that the wicked servant was put off because the other two servants received more from their master. All three of them got a lot. Conservative estimates would say that the value of the single bag of gold was 15 years of wages. If you make about $65,000 a year, that’s around a million dollars. And look what it says about those bags of gold. The master entrusted them to his servants. We’re not talking about self-made millionaires. This is not a tale about the one who starts with nothing, works hard and earns everything he gets. Wealth unimaginable has simply been given to them. It’s not their wealth. It’s their master’s wealth.
If we’re going to let the Word of God have its way with us, we have to do some accounting—what gifts has God given to you? The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). Your house is God’s. Your phone is God’s. Your car is God’s. Your kids are God’s. Your abilities are God’s. Your financial assets are God’s. If you can be the least bit kind and helpful to others, that gift came to you from God. If you can be compassionate when people are hurting, that gift came to you from God. The God who’s given you all you have wants to know—are you using it, every bit of it, to honor him? This parable applies to our whole Christian Life. It also applies to 100% of our earthly possessions. The Bible says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth (Proverbs 3:9). Does your wealth honor the Lord? Do you know what percentage of your weekly or monthly income is dedicated for the Lord? Will you work through the financial materials mailed to you so you know? Will you participate in this 10-for-10 enhanced giving campaign starting January 31st? The campaign is 10 weeks long. The high goal is to give 10 percent of your income for 10 weeks. That’s easy math. Just move the decimal point. The lower goal is to increase your giving by 10 percent. You might need a calculator. Will you pray for this 10-for-10 campaign?
Think about the parable. What was the wicked servant’s crime? The wicked servant’s rebellion was not dealing opioids that people overdosed on, not murder, not addiction to porn or booze—you know what his rebellion was? Doing nothing—not using God’s gifts for God’s glory. His rebellion was…“Leave me alone, so I can do what I want!”
Here’s the thing about those two faithful servants. They weren’t perfect either. They were sinners, too. But their story started long before their master went on a journey and entrusted them with bags of gold. There was something that was already firmly in place, something that had been created inside them, so that when they were given that money and the master traveled abroad, the first and only thing they could think to do was to devote themselves to activities and projects that would be pleasing to him when he returned. What do you think that something was?
Our mortality is front and center in the news today. It hurts when a loved one dies. It’s tough to think about someone getting so sick they need oxygen or a ventilator. We do all we can to live and be healthy. And yet that’s the place God the Father found himself with God the Son. When it came to the matter of having someone pay for your sins, there were only two ways that it could go: either it would be you going to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, or it would be a pure and perfect substitute who would go to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth for you. Before you were born and before he created all things, God the Father had already made that choice. On Good Friday he acted on that choice. The thick, unbreakable cords of perfect and eternal love that bound the Father to the Son—God the Father sliced through those cords, severed them, and dropped his beloved Son into the torturous, darkness of God forsakenness. Even in that hell of hells, with the guilt of everyone counted against him, Jesus did not gnash his teeth in anger against God. In silent suffering he was damned, and he suffered and died for you. Your Father in heaven kept you…and cursed his Son.
That’s the something those two faithful servants had seen in their master, how deep his love for them was. That’s what they knew about him before he so generously entrusted his property to them—they knew how much he loved them. That’s what drove them to devote themselves so completely to working for him while he was gone. Of all the things they could ever have had for themselves, hearing “well done” from him was better than anything.
God gives us so many gifts. He has distributed them in various kinds and in various amounts to all of us, because he knows just what you need and what I need to be able to serve him well. The only key that will ever turn over the engine and take us down the road of devoting ourselves and our bags of gold to serving him with those gifts is how much Jesus loves us. In this all-encompassing arena of making faithful use of God’s gifts, what really matters is knowing the Master. Love is what’s in his heart for you. Let it be love that is in your heart for him. There need be no regrets that you’ve been given but one life to live for your Savior because through him you have been given an eternal life to live for your Savior. Give your entire self to him, and just one small way you can do that is to have an open mind to proportionate giving. Amen.