You Are God’s Talented People
I. To serve with gifts designed by your Savior
II. To do work that your Savior will get done
This Wednesday at 6 pm we are starting a new Bible class called, “Growing together.” This class is for all of our members whether you are new to our church family or have been around Beautiful Savior since the beginning. It will run for four weeks and cover topics like worship, how to study the Bible, friendship evangelism and our life of stewardship. In this class we will be discussing, applying and studying God’s Word with some assumptions. We assume that as God’s people we want to be active in the work that he has given us to do. And we assume that since God has called us to faith and given us a mission he has also given us the gifts and talents necessary for participating in his work.
It is clear from God’s Word that those assumptions are true. In Romans Chapter 12 Paul talks about the gifts and talents that God has given to us. Paul mentions a number of different gifts and says that if our gift is serving we should serve, it is contributing we should contribute, if it is encouraging we should encourage. We do this all in view of God’s mercy in Christ Jesus. We have seen and continue to see Jesus and his love. Certainly we want to serve him and one another in love.
God has called us, equipped us and given us work to do. So if we say, “I don’t really think I have the time” or “I don’t think that I have the gifts necessary to serve on a committee or to do much around church” or “I just come to church on Sunday morning and maybe even give an offering, but that is about all I can do or have time for.” Then we betray the sinful heart that we all struggle with and quite simply those excuses are not valid. God’s Word sets us straight. As you look at the parable of the talents you will see that you are God’s talented people; to serve with gifts designed by your Savior and to do work that your Savior will get done.
In this chapter it is the last week of Jesus’ life and he is continuing to instruct his disciples before he would complete his work on the cross and ascend back to heaven. He again uses a parable to talk about his kingdom and our service until he returns. Jesus says, “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”
Let’s start by identifying some parts of this parable. The man on the journey is Jesus. The servants are his people. The talents are the gifts that he has given each of us. These talents include our money, possessions, time, and opportunities for service, our gifts and abilities. The talents are really everything that our loving Savior blesses us with as he gives us work to do in his kingdom. These gifts that we have are given by Christ and given according to our abilities.
Recognizing that our Savior has given these gifts we realize that Jesus expects us to use the gifts he has given. The servant with five talents and the servant with two talents immediately put those talents to work and doubled their talents. But the man given one talent would not even use the one talent. He hid it in the ground. I don’t know if you have 5, 2 or just 1 talent. Figuring that out is not the point of the parable; the point is that we are God’s talented people. Our Savior has given us gifts designed specifically for each of us. Our Savior wants us to use those gifts.
In no way is our service going to look the same. We are different and our Savior has given us different gifts according to his wisdom and design. Since he has given everything he has the right to expect faithfulness from his talented people. If he has given me a wide circle of friends I can use that as a mission field. If he has given me a servant’s hearts I can use that in many ways in my personal and congregational life. As a congregation he has blessed us with a wonderful facility for worship and Bible study and he has given us many opportunities for both. Our Savior would have us be in church each week and active in personal and congregational Bible study. He would have us use our daily life for Christian service no matter the situation.
Whatever our talents might happen to be, our Savior wants us to be faithful with these gifts and our Savior holds us accountable for using these gifts. Listen to more of the parable. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 24 “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’”
This accounting will take place when Jesus comes back on Judgment Day or when we die and stand before him. That is when we will give an account for our use of the talents he designed for us and gave to us. In the parable we can see the blessings that were gained as these servants used their talents. But they were not commended for the amount they gained. They were commended for the faithful use of their talents.
The servant that hid his talent was held accountable for his lack of faithfulness. He tried to make some excuses, but they were worthless. The master said to him, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. 28 ”‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. That lazy, sinful servant was cast out of God’s presence where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is hell. That is the result of standing before Jesus and trying to excuse sinful behavior. This parable makes us think about how we are using the talents that our loving Savior has designed for us and given to us.
What will Jesus say about the way you used your talents? I don’t think anyone would really be so bold as to say that they have always used time and treasure in service to the Savior. We know our laziness and selfishness toward our Savior. But what the other talents like your family and your ability to serve and be active? What about the fact that we have faith in Jesus and many people we know don’t. Do we think first about what the church can and should do for us or do we think about the mission Christ has given us to reach the lost? What excuses do you make for not serving? What excuses to you make for poor relationships? Do they really hold up to the test that Jesus will give us? Of course they don’t. We know that the specially designed talents that Jesus gives to us are often wasted and often left unused. We know this is sinful and we know that because of our sin we deserve to be cast out where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Knowing that Jesus holds us accountable is a frightening aspect of this parable. But it is not the main point of the parable. The main point is faithfulness. We are not faithful but we have a Savior who was faithful in his work and it is faithful to all his promises. He got his work done and he continues to get his work done. This is really why we are God’s talented people. We have a Savior who always gets his work done.
Jesus was perfectly faithful with his work. He is the perfect Son of God but he was also a true human being who lived under God’s Law. He was tempted in every way that we are yet was without sin. He was faithful to his work of service to his Father. Because we have not been faithful Jesus had to carry the load of our sin and guilt. God laid on him the sin of the whole world. He carried all sin to the cross to fully paid for all our laziness and apathy, he died to remove the guilt from our hearts that comes because of the times we have wasted what God has so generously blessed us with.
The greatest gift that Jesus has given anyone is faith to believe in him as our Savior. We could never serve faithfully enough to be able to stand before God and show off our life. Our sin would always lead us away from Christ. But when we give an account for our life we cling to the work that our Savior has already done. That work on the cross paid for our sin and that work is what welcomes us into his heavenly banquet.
It is the work that Jesus did that motivates us to be active in his work in this world. We don’t; have to worry about what we will say to Jesus about the use and misuse of our talents. We don’t have to feel guilty about misusing our talents. We work for our Savior knowing that he has given us peace and confidence through the forgiveness of our sins. We know he has gives us exactly what we need for serving wherever he has placed us in life. What an honor to know that he gives us talents to serve him and he will get his work done even through people like us.
Maybe you have been pretty lazy. Maybe you have been one of those people who says, it is Sunday morning and that is it. Maybe you are a person who thinks you are doing a lot and are pretty advanced in your service to Christ. Maybe you are one of those people who think church is about you being served. God’s holy law crushes those sinful thoughts and behaviors and God’s Word points us to Jesus for forgiveness. And now we move forward.
We use the talents Jesus gave us to do his work that will get done because of him, not because of us. Serve your Savior while looking forward to the heaven prepared for you. Serve your Savior confident that he is using the events of your life to finally bring you to heaven. And serve your Savior knowing that he has given you the talents you need to serve in any situations. Through faith in Jesus you are God’s talented people. That does not bring us pride. It brings us joy and thankfulness because it is all about Jesus and his work for us and through us.
Last month I was at a workshop and we were discussing famous Christians in recent history. The two most famous Christians that we came up with were Billy Gram and mother Theresa. We talked about who had done more in service to Christ. That is really not a fair comparison. They had different talents and used them in different ways. While we are tempted to judge by outward appearances we know that God is concerned with the faithfulness.
Who has done more, the pastor or the lay person? Who cares? What God wants from his talented people is not a comparison among us. He wants faithful service among us. When there is sin we need to expose it, confess it and cling to Christ for forgiveness. We remember that he gives the talents and he takes care of getting the work done. You have talents, but don’t spend time worrying about whether you are a 5, 2, or 1. It is a waste of time worrying about what I have or don’t have. Don’t live that way. Think about your Savior and the talents he gives you. You do have talents and your Savior moves you to use them and he will get his work done even when we blow it. That is the Savior we serve. Let’s grow together to serve our loving Savior. Amen.
Pastor Matt Brown
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (WELS) of Union City, Tennessee, Rooted in the WORD