Being an adult is hard work. I have a lot of things in my life that I am responsible for: family responsibilities, ministry responsibilities, work responsibilities, volunteer responsibilities, social/ethical responsibilities...sound familiar? With all of these responsibilities in our lives, just juggling all of those balls can feel at times really overwhelming. For me, I need help...and I regularly ask my Heavenly Father for it. In fact, one of my most common prayer petitions that I take before the Lord (almost daily) is that he would help me to "steward well what he has entrusted to me." I love that phrase and if you know me well, you've probably heard me say it on multiple occasions. I think it most accurately encompasses what we are called to do as God's creatures.
Jesus taught this very lesson to his followers through his parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In the parable, he compares the Kingdom to a wealthy man who goes away and entrusts his property to his three servants. To each he gives a different amount, but all are given something to care for. Upon returning, the wealthy man finds that the first two servants took what they were given and used it wisely to increase their share for their master. The last servant, however, kept what had been given to himself, neither gaining nor losing anything. The master calls this servant "worthless" and has him cast out. It sounds like a harsh punishment, after all, while he may not have produced any gain, he also didn't lose anything that he had been given. You'd think the master would be happy with getting back what he entrusted to him, right???
I think the lesson here is that economics in God's kingdom don't work the same way they do in the secular world. For the wealthy man (God), it wasn't about how much each person was given, and it wasn't about how much they gained, it was about the doing. Notice, the wealthy man wasn't concerned about getting back what he put in. If he was, he would have been just fine with the last servant's decision. Instead, he was concerned with them using what he had given them to do something. Focusing on the return on investment distracts you from the true lesson Jesus was teaching then and is teaching to us still today. You can't expect to get back more than what you put in. In fact, you might not got back much at all. But the investment is still of great value in God's economy.
In God's Kingdom, the work can be risky, difficult, and messy at times; but the reward is priceless. Our greatest desire in this life, and the one that is to come, should be to hear our Lord proclaim, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." We need to recognize that in every circumstance, we are playing with "house money." It all belongs to the master, and we have only been entrusted to use it to endeavor to accomplish the work set before us. When we view things that way, we are able to live life with open hands, giving generously, rather than closed fists that are holding on tightly. That means that my children aren't my own. My time doesn't belong to me. My financial resources are simply on loan. And so on...
"Stewarding well" doesn't mean that every investment of resources pays off gangbusters (at least by worldly standards). What it does mean though, is that every investment does accomplish the purposes of the master who has entrusted his property to us, and it is pleasing to him. Sometimes you may feel like your efforts at discipling that guy who just keeps falling into the same sin struggle, or evangelizing that coworker who seems so turned off by Christianity, are a waste of your time. But those people aren't a part of your life by accident. They have been entrusted into your care by the sovereign King of the universe who has a plan and a purpose for every one of us.
Does that mean we are called to beat our heads against the wall until the day we die? Not at all! We see time and again in scripture that sometimes we are called to "knock the dust from our sandals," and I believe God is faithful to reveal it to us when that time has come as well. However, we are called to the sometimes difficult work of living out the Christian life...as followers of Jesus. We are called to use the resources, time, and talents we have been given to accomplish the Kingdom work for which we were created and to which we have been saved and called.
The question is then, Journey Church brothers and sisters, are you stewarding well what has been entrusted to you?
If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.
Part 13 - Serving His Kingdom
Questions discussed in this sermon:
1. How can a church become unhealthy?
2. How does order in the church maintain its health?
3. How are you serving the local church?
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