• Tony Birkhead

Dream a Little Dream Week -3



Ability is Measured by Invested Faithfulness!

INTRODUCTION

Regardless of what we have been given, every servant is tested by the same standard: faithfulness.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Matthew 25:14-30

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.


What was the last thing you saw kids in your life fight over? What similarities do you see between their feelings toward their toys and your feelings toward the things you have?


What intangible things has God given you? Which do you have the greatest struggle using for God?


What would you have to believe to be true about God in order to give your best to Him?


If we are to truly answer our calling as believers, we must recognize God’s ownership of everything we have, and we must learn how to be good stewards of everything He has given us. The Parable of the Talents tells of servants who are given resources by their master, and how the way they invest their resources and lives affects their end reward.


Have a volunteer read MATTHEW 25:14-30.


What would you say to a new believer who wants to know what God requires from them in the area of service?


How did the master respond to the way the slave had used the talents he had been given? Why?


How does the master reward the servants for their service?


People who use their capacities, skills, and gifts grow in abilities and readiness for wider opportunities and responsibilities. Individuals who fail to use their resources see those capacities fade and disappear. Thus, when used, much becomes more; when unused, less becomes nothing. Believers do not lose salvation as punishment for failing to seize opportunities; they lose the capacities necessary for meaningful, ever-expanding service for Christ. Jesus’ parable teaches us that God wants us to invest and use the capacities He has given us. God rewarded the servants who were faithful with more. When God dealt with the servant who was not faithful he punished him and gave his talent to the faithful servant.


As Christians, we must make the most of God-given opportunities for kingdom service. Our doing so involves effort and risk in using what God has given us. He expects us to do only what He has equipped us to do. God will hold us accountable for failing to seize opportunities to serve. The way that we serve reflects what we believe about the end, and who is ultimately in control. This is evident in Jesus’ second parable of Matthew 25 about sheep and goats.

MOVING FORWARD

· What example did Jesus set for us when it comes to using the resources God gives? What type of sacrifice did this require on Jesus’ part?

· How can you better invest the spiritual gifts, or “deposits,” God has given you?

· How is it that by serving people, we love them and show them Jesus?

What are actions we can take to help those in need? How does the fact that you will be judged change the way you view your life? How does it change the way you look at others?

PRAY TOGETHER

Close in prayer, asking God for the courage to be faithful stewards of His resources this week. Thank Him for His many blessings and gifts, and pray that He will help each of you live with a fresh commitment to not waste a single opportunity He has given you.

COMMENTARY

Matthew 25:14-30

25:14-14. Jesus told His disciples a parable to emphasize the need for His followers to be ready for His return. Using the familiar life situation of a wealthy man’s going on an extended trip, Jesus drew parallels to His disciples’ responsibilities while they awaited His return. To ensure that his business was conducted as usual in his absence, the man distributed his wealth to his slaves to manage for him. He knew his slaves well, so he entrusted money to each according to his own ability—five talents, two talents, and one talent, respectively.

25:16-18. A talent was a weight of precious metal, and the value of the owner’s possessions was considerable. Having distributed his wealth, the owner departed. The slaves who received five talents and two talents immediately began to do business with the money entrusted to them and doubled their amounts. The slave who received one talent, however, buried the money for safekeeping.

In Jesus’ story, the slaves’ owner was gone a long time before he returned, called the three to him, and settled accounts with them. Their day of reckoning had arrived. The slave entrusted with five talents reported a 100% profit on his master’s money. The owner was overjoyed, not merely because of the large monetary gain but also because of his slave’s faithfulness. The slave had proved to be trustworthy by fulfilling his duty. He had discharged his responsibility over a few things, comparatively speaking (because five talents actually represented a lot of money). His reward was greater responsibility; the owner would place him in charge of many things. The slave would receive a greater assignment—a larger work to do. Also, the owner invited the faithful slave to share the master’s joy.

25:22-23. The second slave reported that he also had doubled his master’s money. Again, the master commended the slave’s faithfulness, gave him wider responsibility, and invited him to share his master’s joy.

25:24-28. The slave given one talent to manage approached and impudently described his master as a hard (harsh, stern, rough) man. The Greek word can convey the sense of a cruel and merciless person. Furthermore, the slave branded his master as unjust, reaping (and possibly winnowing) others’ grain crops. The slave charged his master with exploiting others for gain. If the slave attempted to place the owner on the defensive or tried to shift the blame for his lack of action, he failed miserably. The master addressed the slave as “evil” because he slandered the master and sought to make excuses for his own failure. The Greek term rendered “lazy” conveys the sense of hesitancy or holding back. With dripping sarcasm, the master condemned the slave with the man’s own words. The owner did not affirm the slave’s characterization of him. His response indicated that if the slave regarded him as stern, exacting, and unjust and thus was afraid of him, the slave should have taken some action. He should have known his disobedience would incur the master’s reprimand.

The third slave was not dishonest; he was disobedient. He did nothing wrong so much as he simply did nothing. The master did not have unreasonable expectations—if the slave merely had deposited the money with bankers so it would earn interest, the master would have been satisfied. But the slave failed to try, so the one talent was taken away and given to the first slave, who had doubled the money entrusted to him.

25:29-30. On the surface, verse 29 is puzzling and difficult. What is fair about a person with much getting more, and an individual with little losing that little? Actually, Jesus stated a law of life. People who use their capacities, skills, and gifts grow in abilities and readiness for wider opportunities and responsibilities. Individuals who fail to use their resources see those capacities fade and disappear. Thus, when used, much becomes more; when unused, less becomes nothing. Believers do not lose salvation as punishment for failing to seize opportunities; they lose the capacities necessary for meaningful, ever-expanding service for Christ. Jesus’ parable teaches us that God wants us to invest and use the capacities He has given us.

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