Faithful or Useless.
When we read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, there are two types of servants depicted- those that were faithful, and one who was useless. Each servant was given gifts based on their ability, and were expected to watch over them while the master was away. They were then called to account for how they used them. The two servants who invested their talents, they were rewarded and called faithful. The third servant, the one who took what he’d been given and buried it in the ground? He was called wicked, lazy, and useless. And then his master sent him away into a pretty horrible sounding place.
Jesus taught in parables a lot, telling stories using common elements of people’s everyday lives to teach a greater truth about life and about God. In this parable, Jesus is teaching us the importance of using the gifts we have been given to benefit our Master, God- whether they be our physical resources, or our talents and abilities.
We saw last week that each and every one of us, when we believe in God, is given spiritual gifts so that we may honor God and serve each other, and we need these gifts in the Church. God has gifted some people with the ability to teach, some with the gift of administration (which I don’t have!), still others with the ability to heal, to speak in and interpret other languages, some with gifts of faith or mercy or serving, and others to preach or evangelize. Whatever the gift, we’ve been given them to use them, not to bury them.
It took me many years to acknowledge how I was gifted. I didn’t want those gifts, because it meant I had to do things I didn’t want to do- it meant I would have to stand in front of people and teach, that I’d be responsible for others, that I’d have to get out of my comfort zone and actually do things for others. Let me tell you, I came up with a lot of great excuses for not doing anything with them. I was scared, that’s for sure. I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t want people to judge me or assume things about me, or (God-forbid) expect things from me! And when it comes down to it, I was lazy! Acknowledging my gifts meant that I’d have to do some things that weren’t in my plan- like change my major, change schools, change my career goals…I’d have to give up control of my life.
But eventually, God got through all of my excuses and showed me that these talents He’d given me weren’t meant to be a burden, they were a gift. Now, I am still learning what my spiritual gifts are, I am still learning how God wants me to use them, and I’m still not getting it right all the time…but I’m trying.
What about you? How has God gifted you? What excuses have you come up with to ignore or deny or hide them? We are working as a church to discover what our spiritual gifts are so we can grow them and use them for God and the church. Have you taken the spiritual gifts tests we are offering? You really should. This will begin to give you an idea of how God has gifted you. Once you do, join us on Sunday as we begin digging into what they mean, and how we are called to use them.
And Stop. With. The. Excuses! You’re not too tired. You’re not too busy. You’re not too old. You’re not too young. You’re not too inexperienced. You are not useless! So stop acting like it. We are called to be the faithful servants who take what we’ve been given and invest it for God. As when we do, God will begin doing things in our church that we can’t even imagine possible. But we can’t do it if we just dig a hole and hide our talents. Seek to be a good and faithful servant, and start investing your talents for God today!
Sermon Notes for “Spiritual Gifts: Using Well What You’ve Been Given” from Mar 23, 2014
We need to look at what God wants us to do with our spiritual gifts
Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30
A Parable is a story using common life elements meant to communicate a greater truth
Jesus used parables a lot- some were difficult to understand and required further explanation
But many were relatively easily understood- this is the category of this parable
In this parable, “talents” can be interpreted in two way:
1) As money: a talent=75lbs of gold or silver. One talent= about $660,000 today!
2) Can also be interpreted as our gifts, abilities, our talents that God gives us
Look deeper at this parable:
A Master is going away, so he calls three servants to him and gives to them a portion of his wealth, each according to their ability, while he is away.
The 1st servant was given 5 talents, the 2nd two, and the 3rd was given 1 talent.
The 1st two took what they had, knowing they should invest it, and made twice what they had been given
The 3rd servant was fearful of losing what he’d been given, so he dug a whole and buried his talent
When the master returned, he called the servants to give an account of how they used their talents
The 1st two brought what they’d earned back to the master, who was overjoyed and rewarded them
The 3rd servant fearfully remarked how he’d buried his talent out of fear of the master.
The master sent the servant away calling him wicked, lazy, and useless
When we step out of the parable story, we can look at what Jesus was trying to teach His followers, and us!
The Master in the Story is God
When the master departed from his servants, he gave them these talents
When Jesus ascended back to heaven, He promised to send the Spirit who gives us spiritual gifts
The Master gave gifts based on the servant’s abilities
The master knew better than the servants what they would be able to handle
God knows us better than we know ourselves and gives gifts according to what we are able to do
The servants reacted differently to what they had been entrusted with
The 1st two saw that the gifts they’d been given were meant to be invested, so they did
The 3rd servant did something different- he didn’t use them, but just dug a hole and buried them
When we discover our gifts, we are given a choice- what are you going to do with the gifts you’ve been given?
When the master returned to take account of the gifts, the 1st two were rewarded for their acting out of respect for the master and investing what they’d been given
The 3rd servant acted out of fear and was punished- he lost what he’d had and was sent away as useless
One day, our Master is coming back as well, and God will call each of us to give account of our talents
How are you using your gifts and talents? Are you using them?
Everyone in this church has been given talents and gifts by the Holy Spirit to do great works for God
But many of us come up with excuses for not using our gifts and talents- for burying them in the ground
-we don’t know what they are
-we fear what might happen if we start using them, especially if they are scary ones
-we worry that we don’t know how to use them
-we are so exhausted from life we just are too tired to do anything with our gifts
-we are just lazy; we are comfortable not doing anything with them and like it that way
What would happen if we started using our God-given gifts? What could the church do if we used all our gifts?
We are called to use our gifts to honor God and benefit the Church
One day we will have to account for how we use our talents. Will you stand before God and hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” or will you hear God call you a lazy, and useless servant?
Cori Cypret is the pastor of The United Methodist Church of Coopersville.