Let Us Strive to Be Faithful Stewards of Our Savior!
O Lord, our God and Savior, be with us this day as we praise Your holy name. Grant us by Your grace sincere repentance and steadfast love as we seek faithfully to serve You all our days. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Elijah was God’s faithful prophet. As such, God was with him and at times worked miracles through him. Here Elijah raised a widow’s son from the dead and thereby confirmed for her the truth of God’s Word.
St. Paul here issues a series of exhortations, all of which call upon us Christians to be faithful to our Savior God. Let us strive to be so, knowing that our Savior will be faithful to us!
Text: Matthew 25:14-30
For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, “Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look I have gained five more talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Then he who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.” But his lord answered and said to him, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have in abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In Christ Jesus, in Whom we place our faith and to Whom we are to prove ourselves faithful, dear fellow redeemed:
Anyone who listened to the first of the Presidential debates past Tuesday evening certainly heard a lot about accountability and good stewardship. Both candidates, for instance, insisted that public schools had to become more accountable. They stated that in their administrations schools would have to demonstrate through standardized testing that they were reaching educational goals in order to secure continued federal subsidies. While the words “good stewardship” were not spoken directly, both candidates assured voters that they would be good stewards of the current federal budget surplus.
Accountability and good stewardship—these are the concepts Jesus intends to emphasize in our text today. We are by God’s grace stewards of the grace of God. A steward is someone who is entrusted with something on behalf of another person. A steward is expected to care for and to use wisely that with which he has been entrusted. We are accountable to our Savior, for the Scriptures very clearly tell us that we will all one day stand before our Savior on Judgment Day. It is extremely important that we understand our Savior’s expectations and intentions with regard to good stewardship and our personal accountability. On the basis of our text I would therefore encourage you today—LET US STRIVE TO BE FAITHFUL STEWARDS OF OUR SAVIOR!
For He has entrusted “talents” to each of us according to our abilities! Jesus shared this parable with His disciples on the Tuesday evening before Good Friday. He was nearing the end of His earthly ministry. He would soon be withdrawing His visible presence from His disciples on this earth and returning to the right hand of His heavenly Father, where He would rule until His return at the end of time. He was, in effect, the “man traveling to a far country” in the parable.
We, on the other hand, together with all of Jesus’ disciples of all ages, are the “servants” in the parable. Now, when we first hear the word “servant” in our day, our reaction might be quite negative. After all, who wants to be a servant? Certainly no one goes to college to become a servant. “I’m nobody’s servant. I don’t want to be a servant,” we may well think! But my dear friends, let us remember that the spiritual reality for every person in this world is that you are either a servant of Satan or a servant of our Savior! Jesus once said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30a). We have been “bought at a price”—namely the blood of God’s own Son, and therefore we are not our own. We are to glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits “which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). The glorious truth of the matter is that we who are God’s servants are, at the same time, His adopted children and heirs of life everlasting (cf. Galatians 3:26-29). All who reject the claim of Jesus Christ, are and will remain servants of Satan doomed to everlasting destruction. Let us, therefore, ever rejoice in the grace of our God and our status as servants, that is members of the “household of God” (cf. Ephesians 2:19).
In the parable the “man traveling to a far country delivers his goods” to his servants. He did so in differing amounts—to one five talents, to another two talents, and to a third one talent—“to each according to his own ability.” In order to understand the relative value of what was entrusted to these three servants, we ought to bear in mind that one silver talent was enough to pay the daily wage of six thousand men. Even at minimum wage today, that would amount to just under $250,000. Even the man receiving one talent, therefore, was entrusted with considerable money!
The “talents” in the parable, which were a monetary unit of that time, refer to all of the things our Savior has entrusted to us—our time, our talents, our mental and physical gifts and abilities, our earning power and personal wealth. These our Savior has entrusted to us in varying amounts and in accordance with our own abilities. Some people are given long lives and others short. Some people are given greater intelligence and others lesser. Some people accumulate great wealth, while others remain relatively poor. That which remains constant is that everything we are and have comes from God and has been entrusted to us by God. As the Psalmist David reflects in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”
Our God reveals in Scripture that as His stewards, we are to use that which He has entrusted to us. We are to use it in four general areas—to support the work of His kingdom through our offerings; to support our families; to pay our taxes; and then to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves and so in need of our help. In each of these areas we are to strive to be faithful stewards. St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful!”
My dear friends, LET US, therefore, STRIVE TO BE FAITHFUL STEWARDS OF OUR SAVIOR for He has entrusted “talents” to each of us according to our abilities, and
…He will hold each of us accountable for the “talents” entrusted to us! Upon the man’s departure in our Savior’s parable, two of the three servants got busy using the talents entrusted to them. The man with five talents “went and traded with them, and made another five talents.” The man with two talents also “gained two more.” The man with one talent we are told, however, “dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.” After a long time the man returned from His journey and called his servants to him to settle accounts. The man in the parable is, as we have already said, the Lord Jesus. He currently sits at God’s right hand in heaven, but will one day return in judgment as the Scriptures declare. This very same chapter in Matthew’s Gospel vividly portrays Jesus as returning to judge “all the nations.” At that time He will divide the believers from the unbelievers and pronounce judgment upon both groups inviting the believers to “inherit the kingdom” prepared for them, while condemning the unbelievers to “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (cf. Matthew 25:32,34,41). Our Savior will return as He has promised. Let no one doubt this truth!
Returning to the parable, we are told that the man upon hearing the reports of his first two servants responded by saying to each of them, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” It is interesting and instructive for us to recognize that God only requires faithfulness over against what He has entrusted to us. He doesn’t expect more of someone to whom He has entrusted less, nor will He accept less from those to whom He has entrusted more. He did not applaud the efforts of the servant who gained five talents and dismiss the efforts of the servant who gained only two. Rather, he recognized that both had been faithful in using that which had been entrusted to each of them and commended them accordingly.
My dear friends, the Scriptures teach us that “to whom much is given, from him much willl be required” (Luke 12:48b). Let us each evaluate what the Lord has entrusted to us physically, intellectually, financially, and socially. Are we being faithful stewards of those things entrusted to us by God? God warns us not to steal from Him by withholding appropriate offerings (cf. Malachi 3:8-10). He urges us to take care of our families, for to fail to do so is to deny the faith (cf. 1 Timothy 5:8). He commands those among us who are blessed with financial riches “not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God.” He goes on to tell us to use those riches to “do good” (cf. 1Timothy 6:17-18). As faithful stewards of our Savior let us continue to evaluate and reevaluate the resources and opportunities God has given us so that we like the first two servants will be praised when we given an account of our stewardship.
A failure to do so will leave us in the position of the third servant. Although he had been entrusted with less than the others, he had still been entrusted with considerable wealth. His attitude, however, was one of resentment and rebellion. He was suspicious of his master and in his mind and with his lips falsely accused him of being unjust. So he refused to use his talent wisely, but rather dug a hole, place the money in it, and let it lie until his master’s return. His lord dismissed him as a “wicked and lazy servant” and sentenced him in view of his lack of faith and unfaithful performance to “outer darkness.”
My dear friends, this is a truly traumatic, but unfortunately will not be an uncommon experience on Judgment Day. Jesus stated in His “Sermon on the Mount” that the “way to destruction” is broad and there are “many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13). There are very few good and faithful stewards of our Lord and Savior in this world, comparatively speaking. What is sad is that the parable implies is that this “wicked and lazy servant” was at one time a true believer. He appears to have been someone to whom the Lord Jesus entrusted gifts, but who as time passed chose to go his own way having given up faith in his Savior and resenting any connection with Him.
St. Paul encourages us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. He says, “Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Let us do that, dear friends! Let us examine our faithfulness. Where it is lacking, let us humbly confess our sins, knowing that as we do so the blessed blood of our Savior Jesus “cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7,9). Our Savior alone can lead and inspire us to greater faithfulness, as we cherish the thought of His great faithfulness to us! Truly we can only truly love Him when we know with certainty that He has loved us, and He has loved us with a love that surpasses all others (cf. 1 John 4:19; Romans 5:6-8). LET US STRIVE TO BE FAITHFUL STEWARDS OF OUR SAVIOR! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting