Are We There Yet?
4 – Serve
May 31, 2020
1 Pt 4:10, Matthew 25:14-27
The last few weeks together, I have been sharing my fun and wild road trip stories with all of you. This week I am going to do something different. HMC likes challenges, so here is your challenge (for all of you joining the live stream today, watching on Wightman channel 6, or reading this later on). I want to read your wacky road trip stories. Tell me about that trip where everything seemed to go wrong, or the strangest things happened, and where you found yourself asking “Are We There Yet?” Email it to me, drop it in the mailbox at the church and address it to me. And as they come in, I will read some of them on air. And the weirdest, most off the wall (Yet 100% true) road trip story is worth a prize. The deadline is June 13th, 2020. Send them in!
We have been talking about being on a bit of a road trip together. COVID has changed the rhythm of our church family significantly since the pandemic was declared in early march. No longer are we meeting physically in person. Everything we are doing now is digital – we are on Facebook, zoom, tv, and other streaming sites. To participate in the life of the church, you never have to leave your home. While I know there is a certain attraction for some, we also know that without the personal interaction isn’t the same. As we look to the future, we know that life in every single area will be different, and the church is no exception. And we long for clarity on what life will look like, what church will look like, but really, we don’t and can’t know as there are too many unknowns. And for some of us, we just want this wild road trip to end. We want to know “Are we there yet?”
In this time, there are some things for the church that regardless of how weird and awkward life gets around us will stay constant. Regardless of how the church looks and functions six months from now, we know that we will still be:
Generations following Jesus together
We will be an intentional gathering of all the ages who are united together in our desire to know, love, and follow Jesus deeper. We do this as we:
Gather: We understand that we are a community, a family. We understand that authentic community requires intentional participation. We understand that practical faith finds its expression within the setting of an authentic faith family and community. We need authentic community as we grow in our faith.
Grow: We understand that spiritual health, growth and continuing maturity is an important part of us being a community. So we strive to cultivate our heart soil so that when the seed of faith is planted in our hearts, it grows into an amazing, healthy, fruit bearing, reproducing plant. That is something that should be natural and normal.
Give: As we grow in our faith, we understand that a natural part of spiritual maturity is developing and using the gifts, talents, and abilities that God has given us to bring Him honour by serving Him and others. I want to spend a few weeks talking about why we give, how we give, etc…
1 Pt 4:10
God gives so you can give it away!
God gives you gifts, talents, skills, and abilities, and then He gives you the opportunity to put those things to good use, to invest them in doing His work (which often involves serving others). He gives so that you can give away. This is a natural and expected part of your own spiritual growth and maturity. Let me tell you a parable of Jesus that illustrates that point.
1) We are given gifts
Verses 14-15 are not just a nice story about a boss going on a journey and leaving his servants in charge, doing his work in his absence. It is a foreshadow of what is coming in a scene reminiscent of Matt 28:19-20, Acts 1:8 where Jesus leaves. He ushers in the church age in Acts 2 when the promised Holy Spirit comes and commissions the followers by giving them a fresh filling. And then the church carries on the work of Jesus in His absence, knowing that one day He will physically return.
Note the size of the wealth that was given. 1 Talent was equal to 15-20 years wages as day labourer. 5 talents = 75 to 100 years wages. 2 talents = 30-40. Huge investment… Think 550K minimum. This was a huge investment, huge risk in trusting these guys. The sheer size and risk of the investment reminds of the investment Jesus made in each one of us. He gave up His life, and then gives us His Spirit who gives us (who don’t deserve it) gifts to serve Him and do amazing things for Him. He gives us gifts to carry on His work in His absence. We are given gifts.
2) We can choose what to do with these gifts
The first two servants worked hard, gave it everything, and leveraged the wealth they had to make more back. They understood the reason the master gave them his wealth, so they worked it hard to get a return. They invested, they used what was given to them.
The third servant buries the money in ground so that it is safe and there is no risk of loss. In a day before banks, digging a hole and burying was a common safety and security measure to keep valuable possessions safe.
You have been given gifts, talents, resources, abilities by God. You can choose to invest it, take risks with it, work hard with it, and see a return in the lives of others, or you can keep those things to yourself. You can choose what you do with them.
3) We will need to show how we used those gifts
The master returns after a long time. He wants to see the returns on how the servants handled his wealth. They had to give an account.
This is a parallel to us in this church age. After what seems to be a long time, Jesus will return as promised (unexpected, like a thief). There is an understanding that all of us will need to give an account for how we used the gifts He gave us to carry on His work in His absence. Have we been wise with those gifts? Have we used them, worked hard with them, or have we hidden them?
4) God is looking for a return
In the case of the first two servants, hard work happens with the master’s wealth, and 100% returns are had. I don’t think the main focus here is how much the servants made back. The focus is that they took what was given to them, worked hard with it, and used what they had been given to grow a larger return. Faithful stewardship pleased the master more than the return. And because they worked hard for a return knowing that is what the master would have done, he rewarded them.
Contrast this to servant #3. He is the ‘sensible’ one that many of us can relate to. On the surface he did the wise thing. Taking care of wealth seems to be wise. But we see that he completely misunderstood heart of the master. He knew that the master always wanted a return for his hard work and efforts (harvesting where you have not sown, gathering where seed has not been scattered because maybe there still is something there) but saw him as only him being a hard hearted, penny pinching miser who wanted to protect his riches. So when the master gave the servants responsibility over his wealth, it was seen only as a protectionary measure rather than as the desire for them work hard with all with his wealth, and get a return.
The servant, not knowing master, fears him. Even though he knows his master expects a return, the servant is too worried about losing what has been given to him, which is why he buried the money to play it safe. This is why he takes the easy way out.
The master confronts him…Your words make you guilty! I gave you more than enough wealth to do a lot with, and you should know that I work hard for a return. And you know I expect you to work hard with what I gave you to get a return, yet you were fearful and lazy with what I gave you. There was no responsibility with my wealth!
God gives you and I gifts. Jesus left, the Holy Spirit came, and now all who know and follow Jesus have spiritual gifts that we are entrusted with while He is away. For some it is preaching, some teaching, some words of encouragement, some helping and serving quietly, some giving generously, some mercy and compassion, some are gifted in sharing faith and the Gospel. Whatever the spiritual gift, we have all been given gifts to use, to work hard with, invest, to build up His kingdom before He returns.
Which servants are we like? The ones who will work hard, risk it all, and put it all out there for a return? Or are we taking the gifts that God has given us and hiding it, fearful of the gifts, fearful of what it means for us and what we should do, fearful that God is more worried about protecting the gifts than using them in the lives of others and maybe sometimes messing it up?
God gives so you can give it away
How and who are you investing in? Sharing? Planting? Helping to grow the Kingdom?