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Bullish on the Kingdom

Matthew 25: 14-30

Here Miles works with Matthew 25: 14-30 to talk about our talents and how we use them.  Throughout out this sermon he talks about investing and what we do with the investment that God has made in us.

Bullish on the Kingdom
Text: Matthew 25: 14-30
Date: November 14, 1993
Author: Rev. David Miles

I want to begin by once again welcoming our new members, we are so glad that you've found this church and chosen to become a part of our church family.

I've been thinking about how to explain to you what it is like to be a member of our church Two weeks ago in our new members' class we breezed through a few thousand years of church history to explain where the Presbyterian Church came from

Last week we talked a little about our church and you were all given a book about the history of our church

Also, an elder and a deacon helped me explain more about the MINISTRY OF OUR CHURCH and how you can be involved

But what more can we say?

How can we describe what it is like to be a member of the church? Well, wouldn't you know it? Jesus had something to say about it! Well ... not exactly about what it is like to be a member of the Lamington Church, but what it is like to be a part of the larger thing that this church is part of He had a name for it, ... he called it the kingdom of God, What is it like to be a part of the kingdom of God? and on one occasion, he said it looks like this:

It is like a man, going on a journey, summons his servants and entrusts his property to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. Now, when I used to hear this I always thought this was a little strange Does it means that to one person he gave the ability to: play the piano, throw a curve ball, paint a picture, bake a cake, and juggle

Another: play the piano, bake a cake

Another: juggle

Everybody gets different talents

Then I went to seminary and they taught me how to read the notes in the fine print and I found out that a talent was a sum of money actually, a rather large sum of money.

One Talent = Fifteen years wages

So whether you got one or five of these things, you found yourself suddenly carrying around a lot of cash. A figure so big it would have been almost incalculable to the ancient mind and then these servants were faced with the obvious question:  What are they going to do with what they have been given?

Well, you know how the story goes...The first two put theirs to work and come back with a 100% return on their investment and they enter into the joy of their master, but for the third servant, things don't go so well. -- He chooses to bury his money in a hole in the ground and comes back with what he was given, no more, no less and what seemed like a sure way to hold on to what he had turned into losing everything he had, It is a story about investing, about doing something with what you have been given.
What the parable boils down to is this:
*What are you going to do with what you have been given? Are you going to invest it? Or are you going to bury it in a hole?

  • Why does Jesus tell this story?
  • What does it have to do with the kingdom of God?
  • What does it have to do with the work of one small part of that kingdom in a place called Lamington?

What does this story have to do with being a member of this church? And while we're at it, tell me what those first two guys were investing in... I'd like a piece of that!

Well, maybe he tells this parable because we are faced with the same question:
*What are we going to do with what we have been given? Are we going to invest it, or are we going to bury it in a hole?

If we have read the story we know what we're supposed to do, but I'd like to look at it from the perspective of the servant who buries his talent in the ground, why would he choose to do such a thing? Why bury it?

1) Maybe because he didn't think much of what he had to offer
Sure it was a lot, but maybe in comparison to what the others had he didn't think that what he had added up to much Might as well bury it. Maybe that is how many of us think as members of this church Maybe we think that we don't have much to offer so we don't bother with the thought of investing ourselves in the church yet the parable implies the opposite: That each one of us is entrusted with something of great value each one of us has something to invest in the work of God's kingdom.

Let me ask you a question... Do you think you have something to invest?

The story implies that though what everyone has may not be the same, everyone has something to bring to the table. So what do you have to bring is of great value? What can you invest in the life of this church?

Let me suggest a few things:

A) Your Time
Your time is certainly of great value There is only so much of it, and most likely it is often in great demand Your F AMIL Y needs it WORK FRIENDS and CHURCH needs your time
The ministry of our church requires time meetings choir rehearsals Sunday school prep

  • coming to worship what Sunday was made for - reading the Times your being here makes a difference. Your time is of great value and one of the things you can invest in the life of this church

B) Your Talents
Don't worry, were not asking you to come up with 15 years wages, But the other kind of talents... your abilities your interests your creativity the unique gifts that only you can offer Your talents are of great value and can be used in God's work through the ministry of this church In fact the apostle Paul tells us that everyone in the family of God has been given some kinds of gifts by the Spirit of God for the work of the Kingdom of God Some are gifted to use the work of their hands Some are gifted to use the words of their mouths Some are gifted to use the warmth of the heart but everyone has been given a gift that will make a difference!

[When I was growing up there was an important woman in my life her name was Myrtle, She was one of the elderly women in a Bible study my mother led at a retirement home I came to know of Myrtle because my mother would often bring home a coconut cream pie and it was always from Myrtle.  My mother would tell me about how every single week Myrtle used to ask about me and pray for me Every week All week long She would pray for me At first I think I felt sorry for this old woman thinking that she had nothing better to do than ask about some teenager But I couldn't resist the coconut cream pies Week after week went by of this, and in time I found myself thinking that Myrtle was praying for me counting on it, trusting in it and by the time that Myrtle died I didn't even care that the pies would not be coming because all I could think about was that Myrtle was even closer to the one she was praying to and I think that I still trust in Myrtle's prayers What did Myrtle have to offer? Prayers and coconut cream pies, Gifts of great value, gifts that made a difference in the Kingdom]

Every member of our church has something to offer whether they have been here for 40 years or 4 days whether they are age 92 or 2. This is what we keep reminding the children of our church that they are here not only to learn, to grow, to be with their family. They are here to offer the gifts that they uniquely bring to the family of God.

In a month many of our children will be putting on a Christmas pageant and they will be doing this not just to make them feel good or to make us feel good, but because we believe that everyone in our church has some important gift to share, and we are all the better -- if it is shared and we are missing something -- if it is buried in a hole in the ground We can invest our Time our Talents and Gifts

We can also invest our money in the work of the church We all know that the church is not an institution with a goal of making money but we also know that money is essential for the ministry of the church Now, I am aware that many of you don't feel comfortable talking about money especially in the church of all places I know this because I am not particularly comfortable talking about it, especially here

But it would be silly of us to act as though it were not part of our life together as a church family, because it is just as in our own families, financial issues matter, there is no difference in our church family, and I think that must be why Jesus talked about it so much Did you know - more than practically anything else, Jesus talked about money It was not because he was out to get it, he never did But it was because he was a realist

He knew how important it is to us how big a role is plays in our lives what a major role it plays in every aspect of our lives money is of great value to us and it is something we can invest in the church today joined just in time to receive you 1994 pledge card hey, welcome to the family!  You have joined at a very important time in the life of our church you have come aboard as we are making decisions about where we are going as a church.

Throughout the last month every member was asked to participate in small gatherings in the homes of a dozen members there we discussed where we have come from and where we are going as a church. We got together at this level because these are decisions we have to make as a church and that mean all of us and as we make decisions as individuals when we fill out our pledge cards we are taking part in a corporate decision about the shape of our church's ministry for the future.

At the gatherings in October I heard people talk about how they appreciated so many things about our church:

  • The Worship we participate in each week
  • The superb music which lifts our hearts
  • The increased emphasis on our children's ministry
  • The excellent work that our seminary intern, Eric Jacobsen has done training our teachers
  • The new youth group; excuse me, Sunday night live
  • The caring ministry of our board of Deacons
  • The ministries we support beyond the walls of this building, particularly with the hungry and homeless in the area
  • And these beautiful and historic buildings in which we worship, and fellowship, and learn, and teach, and grow and serve.

All these things are of great value to us And all these things are dependent on the money we give to the work of the church and at this time of year we make a decision together as a church family with our pledges it is all about investments and we may feel as though we don't have anything of value to invest in the church but we do: it may not look just the same for all of us

But each of us has:

  • Our time to pray, to scrub the school bus, deliver food
  • Our talents to bake cookies for basket day, to teach Sunday school to prepare a budget
  • Our money to heat the building, pay the salaries, and to care for those in need

Do we invest it, or do we dig a hole in the ground?

Well, if the man with one talent did have something of value to invest,
...." then why else might he have buried? Maybe not because he didn't have it, but because he was afraid to risk it.  Let's be honest... investing is risky business

The man with the one talent knew that, he knew that if he invested what he had that he may have lost it and it can be frightening for us to invest what we have because what we have is of great value to us our time, talents, and money. It is all of great values to us and it can be quite scary to give it up, to risk it, to invest it.

  • We may fear giving up our time, because there is only so much to go around
  • We may fear offering our talents and abilities because they may have been put down or disregarded by someone in the past
  • We may fear giving our money because that means less in our own account

Let's be honest about it investing in the church affects our lives it means sacrifice, we all know that. And we may not be as free as we once were And we may not be as young as we once were And the economy may not be as strong as it once was and the sacrifice maybe greater that it once was but the question remains are we going to invest, or dig a hole in the ground?

Well, if Jesus was right, that being part of God's church is like being in this Parable Then maybe what it all comes down to is what it all came down to for the servants with the talents For ultimately they made their decision about investing based on what they thought about the master

The clue is there for us in the interchange between the last servant and the master, did you hear it?

The servant says he didn't invest the talent because he knew the master to be a harsh man and the master responded to him: You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, well if that was the case why did you even put my money in the bank and then I would have at least earned 2%

Something was obviously missing tragically missing in the perception of the master by the man something that left him unable to even put the money in the bank. Something that rendered him paralyzed with fear something that made him take what he had and simply and whatever it was that he was missing, it was...

Something that the other two servants saw in their master, what was it that freed them up to invest what they had with such confidence and boldness?

What was it that they saw?

That they had was theirs only because it was given to them.  The thing we were reminded of in our OT lesson, that all that we have is not merely from our own hands, but from the hand of God the same thing we have been reminded of in our study of Genesis this fall that all things are made by God and given for our good pleasure

Or maybe what freed them to invest was that knew...

That they were entrusted these gifts not merely for their own benefit, but to do the work of the one who entrusted it to them.

Maybe that is why we think it is worth investing in the church, not because it is the only thing worth investing in.

(There are many things worth investing in out there)

But because this is one place we can point to where we know God's grace is breaking into our world!

  • Whether we see it in the lives of our children as they come to know God's love
  • Or as people experience the presence of God by our worshipping together
  • Or as people in need experience the care of God through the gifts that we give
  • Or as we see it in our own lives, as we've felt the healing grace of God by being part of this church if

This church is not perfect, and it is not the only church around but it is one place we can point to where God is at work

Where we have come to know the love of God where what we have to offer can be used by God or maybe what they saw about the master was...

That the one who gave them all they had would also provide for them in whatever was to come

That what they had had been given by the master was incalculable that the love we have been given by God is beyond measure a love so wide, so high, so deep, that whatever is risked -- The love cannot be lost.

Maybe our ability to invest what we have in the church comes down to the same thing maybe it all comes down to how we see the master whatever it was, it set them free to invest to let it go and to watch their investment come back doubled it set them free to enter into the joy of their master.


Rev. David D. Miles was a pastor at Lamington Presbyterian Church in Bedminster, NJ.

Author information was updated as of the article's post date. Author profiles may not reflect author's current employment or location.

Image credit: © Ignacio García Losa ( via Flickr. Used by permission.

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