The Parables Series  #9




TEXT:         Matt. 25:14-30


INTRO:       In our culture we often define worth by what we possess: i.e.


a.   The place we live

b.   The kind of house we live in

c.   The kind of car we drive

d.   The line of credit we have

e.   The clothes we wear

f.    The degrees we’ve earned


In God's kingdom however, we possess nothing of our own, rather our worth is determined not by what we possess, but how we use what God possesses, that which He has entrusted us to use!


ILLUS:     Years ago a Sunday school in Philadelphia was overcrowded, much like some of our children's departments today.  A little girl was turned away.  She began, that day, to save her pennies to help the Sunday school have more room.  Two years later, she died.  They found a pocketbook by her bed with 57 pennies and a little scrap of paper with a note saying to help the church build a bigger Sunday school.

   The pastor of that church, Dr. Russell Conwell, used that note to make a dramatic appeal to his congregation.  People's hearts were touched.  One realtor gave the church a piece of land.  He said he just wanted a down payment of 57 pennies.

   The local newspaper picked up the story, and it was carried across the country.  The pennies grew, and the results can be seen in Philadelphia today.  I've never been to that spot, but I'd like to go see that church.  It seats 3,300 people with a large Sunday school department.  I'd like to visit Temple University and Good Samaritan Hospital that came about as a result of that initial effort.  I'd like to visit the room at Temple University where that little girl's picture is on the wall with the reminder that she gave 57 cents with an amazing result. -- Bob Russell, "Take the Risk," Preaching Today, Tape No. 143.


PROP SENT:    Jesus teaches us that stewardship is not an optional choice in His kingdom for those of His kingdom, but it is required of His servants who will identify themselves with the Kingdom of God!


I.   THE LONG JOURNEY    Matt. 25:14-18


A.   Servants    Matt. 25:14a

1.   We are not Lord's or Rulers.

a.   Therefore we own nothing.

b.   Equal status – all servants.


ILLUS:    When the Possessor of heaven and earth brought you into being and placed you in this world, He placed you here not as an owner but as a steward -- as such He entrusted you for a season with goods of various kinds -- but the sole property of these still rests in Him, nor can ever be alienated from Him.  As you are not your own but His, such is likewise all you enjoy. -- John Wesley -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 464.


2.   We came into the world with nothing, and leave it with nothing.  (You can't take it with you!)


B.   Stewards    Matt. 25:14b-18

1.   God's property given to us to use.

a.   Not to be used for self but for master.

b.   Idea is that if we have been entrusted with something (like riches) we should recognize that we have been blessed with such to benefit others too!)

c.   Stewardship involves responsibility – the idea here of “investment!”


ILLUS:     There is no portion of our time that is our time, and the rest God's; there is no portion of money that is our money, and the rest God's money.  It is all his; he made it all, gives it all, and he has simply trusted it to us for his service.  A servant has two purses, the master's and his own, but we have only one. -- Adolphe Monod (1800-1856) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 10737.


2.   Different amounts given, equal job of responsibility however!

a.   Different amounts of worldly goods, or abilities.

b.   Yet we are equally responsible for what we have.

3.   Some will run from responsibility.   Matt. 25:18

a.   Will try and hide in the world what God has given them, or fail to invest what God has given them; no stewardship.

b.   Put trust in the world and self.

c.   The idea of burial here it to keep it for self, not to invest it for growth for the master.

d.   This is not just about money; this is about all areas of our lives, stewardship is about all our resources: time, talent, and tithes.


II.  THE LONG TIME   Matt. 25:19-23


A.   Settled Accounts    Matt. 25:19

1.   Jesus indicated a long time between first and second coming here.

2.   Time given to demonstrate stewardship.

3.   There will be accountability for what we've done with the Lord’s goods and opportunities He has given us.

a.   The implication is that everyone was given something to start with, some with much, some with less … but everyone with something!

b.   At some point in the future everyone will give an account for what they have done with what they had.

c.   And we do reap what kind of stewardship we practiced!


ILLUS:    An interesting fable is told of a rich man who wanted to help a poor man.  The rich man hired the poor man to build a house on the hillside and went away on a long journey.  The carpenter said to himself, "My boss is away and I can use cheap materials for the parts of the house which will not show.  The house will be weak and undesirable but nobody will know except me."  But when the rich man returned he said, "The house is not for me: it is for you!"  The carpenter accepted the key in astonishment.  Instead of a first class home he now had a fourth-class home.  God gives us a job, a life to build.  We have to live in the house we build.  If we do a shoddy job, we cheat one person -- ourself. – Source Unknown


B.   Successful Stewards     Matt. 25:20-23

1.   Praise not determined by amounts made, but by faithfulness in using what they possessed!

a.   The Master replied the same to each who had been a good steward in spite of the final amounts.

b.   “Well done...”

2.   Same reward for same faithfulness even with different totals!

a.   Not how much do I have.

b.   It was “what am I doing with what I have?”


ILLUS:    It is required of a man that he be faithful, not successful. -- Howard Hendricks, Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 3.


3.   (read Mark 12:41-44) -- though a widow gave 2 mites (KJV), (fraction of a penny to a couple of cents) it was greater than those who had given much more because it was greater in proportion to what she had.

a.   Attitude of steward.

b.   Willingness of steward.

4.   While both faithful stewards had different amounts they were equal in their commitment to duplicate the original given them … so while one made more than the other because he had more to start with they both shared the same reward for the same commitment and same sacrifice in stewardship!

a.   Notice the master equally praises them: “Well done, good and faithful servant!

b.   Notice the master equally promotes them: “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

c.   Notice the master equally blesses them: “Come and share your master's happiness!”


III.  THE LONG STORY   Matt. 25:24-30


A.   Selfish Servant   Matt. 25:24-25

1.   Wasn't interested in helping the master by his energy.

2.   His interest was self.

3.   While the master was away he would do as he pleased with the goods given to him.

4.   He invested everything in the world ... his thinking was that the master is a hard taskmaster so he wouldn’t do anything to help him ... in the meantime what do I get out of this stuff!


ILLUS:    I heard about a little girl who experienced a major breakthrough in her life when she learned to tie her own shoes.  Instead of excitement, she was overcome by tears.

   Her father asked, "Why are you crying?"

   "I have to tie my shoes," she said.

   "You just learned how.  It isn't that hard, is it?"

   "I know," she wailed, "but I'm going to have to do it for the rest of my life."

   My hunch is that some of us feel the same way when it comes to Christian stewardship.  We learn that it's exciting to give.  But isn't there just a tiny bit of dread because we know we have to do it over and over again for the rest of our lives? -- Heidi Husted, "The Sermon on the Amount," Preaching Today, Tape No. 122.


a.   This wicked servant merely buried the investment and never used it productively, only to protect his own self interest.

b.   His only concern was to preserve his own life by not losing anything; he wasn’t interested in gaining anything.


B.   Slothful Steward    Matt. 25:26-30

1.   The heart of the problem -- laziness!

a.   Didn't trust God.  This was the root of the issue … he could have at least put it in the bank and had the original grow interest for the master without his having to do anything … but it was obvious he hated the master and did not trust him, meaning God.

b.   Not willing to invest in God's work.

c.   Trusted self more and the world over the master!

d.   He didn’t care to return anything to the master.  His interests were self interests.


ILLUS:    The late Bishop Edwin Hughes once delivered a rousing sermon on "God's Ownership" that put a rich parishioner's nose out-of-joint.  The wealthy man took the Bishop off for lunch, and then walked him through his elaborate gardens, woodlands, and farm.  "Now are you going to tell me," he demanded when the tour was completed, "that all this land does not belong to me?"  Bishop Hughes smiled and suggested, "Ask me that same question a hundred years from now." -- Bennett Cerf, Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 2.


2.   Cast away! -- No true servant acts this way with the Master's things!

a.   Served only self not God.  There was literally no intention of doing anything to help the master, not even put the original investment in a local bank!  The idea here was that this wicked servant was only interested in self preservation.  His kingdom was “self” … he served no master but himself.  It wasn’t the single talent that he had been given that was the problem; it was the lack of investment that was the problem.

b.   The servant who earned 2 more talents was praised as highly as the one who had earned an additional 5 in the story; it wasn’t the amount of talents, it was the amount of commitment.

c.   Kingdom of the world demanded more attention than the Kingdom of God!

3.   The concept of stewardship is quite clear in the story, no one can please God without being a steward, and you cannot be a steward if you serve yourself.


CONCLUSION:   You can't be God's servant without also being His steward!  To not be one will mean that you cannot be the other!  In whose kingdom are you invested in, God's or this world’s?  The" talented" Christian uses God's blessings ... the wicked servant hides them or uses them for self!