Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “Proportionately Received, Proportionately Given” based on Matthew 25:14-30 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered on Sunday, September 15, 2019
It was omission. It wasn’t as though that wicked, lazy servant had spent the talent, likely worth millions of dollars, on a heroin binge. He didn’t head to straight to Sodom and spend the night with street working women or invest in a late model chariot with all the bells and whistles. He didn’t do something wrong with his master’s money; he just didn’t do anything at all.
What was the cause for his omission? What was it that made him so different from his faithful counterparts? The parable wasn’t told in order to instruct people on how to be experts in the stock exchange. The problem wasn’t an omission of financial savvy in his mind. The problem, instead, had much more to do with what was missing in his heart; particularly how that omission affected his relationship with his master.
It isn’t too difficult to figure out that the broad stroke descriptions of this man who went on a journey were painted to portray your God. Not only does all the wealth in this world have its ownership and origin in him, but as one who is omniscient, knowing all things, he knew which of his servants could be entrusted with which amount of his money. He gave it proportionately, each according to his ability.
What is the talent which your God has entrusted to you? Brothers and sisters, take stock of everything that is in your possession and realize that, like all three of the servants in the parable, they have all been entrusted to you by their true owner. You, as his servant, have been given the responsibility not to own them, but merely to manage them. To use the word in its true and proper context, you are simply a steward.
Your house is God’s. Your phone is God’s. Your vehicle, your financial assets, your TVs and your tablets, your clothes and your bottles of bourbon—they all actually belong to your God. But, your stewardship isn’t just over a mass of materials. Your abilities belong to God, too. If you are the one who listens so well; if you are the one who would give the shirt off your back; if you work well with little ones; if you are a leader of men, you were given those skills to manage and maintain while you remain on this earth.
And guess what? Like the journey the parabolic master took and returned from, your Savior’s time physically away is coming to a close soon enough and, for you and for me and for all, the time to settle accounts with him will accompany him.
How’s your ledger looking? Are you going to be sharing your master’s happiness or are you going to be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth?
As you heard last weekend, the point of this 10 for 10 series is not to say to each and every one of you that you need to place more money in the offering plate. That would be putting the cart before the horse. Instead, each and every one of you, take the time to look at what you have proportionately received from your God.
Instead of fearing their master because he was a hard man, the two faithful servants took a look at the money entrusted to them and, to them, it characterized him quite differently. They saw him as generous. They saw him as a man who lovingly entrusted to them something precious to him. They eagerly went at once and put his money to work.
There was no hesitation. There was no thought of gaining anything for themselves. Their lives were of service to their master and they found their purpose and meaning in managing his materials for his profit. His love moved their hearts toward serving him.
The servant who was given two talents didn’t compare himself to the others and wonder why he wasn’t given five. The servant who was given five didn’t complain that, while he was given more money, he wasn’t given a house or a wife or a better job.
The temptation in taking stock of what you have been given to steward is to see all of the things that you are not given to manage; whether that is by comparing yourself to what others have or, in a selfish and prideful way, to think that you deserve to have more and better.
See, instead, in the bounty of blessings bestowed upon you the benevolence of your God toward you. In love and divine wisdom, he has given each one of you, individually, a set of skills and possessions in proportion to what he knows that you, personally, need.
When it came time to consider what he should give to you to fulfill your greatest need he gave you exactly what would cover the cost of your sins. He took the thing that was most precious to him, something more valuable than ten thousand talents, and cursed it, nailing Jesus, his Son, to Calvary’s cross.
Through Jesus’ sacrifice, all of your selfishness and pride is forgiven. The record of all your omissions in the eternal ledger has been blotted out forever. Jesus is the light that has brought you out of eternal darkness and your deserved weeping and the gnashing of your teeth has been exchanged for a reason to cry tears of joy and use your mouths to sing and shout in thankfulness and praise.
God’s good and faithful servants aren’t given that distinction because they turn two talents into two more or five into five more. They are good and faithful because they see the goodness and faithfulness of their God in what he has given them.
Love, in whatever proportion you have received it, is what your God has given to you. Let that love be the reason why you put your metaphorical talents to work in this world. You have proportionately received the skills and possessions you need. Now, proportionately give—in the plate…in your home…at your job…to your spouse and kids…to your friends and your community. Go at once…good and faithful servant…and put his money to work. Amen.