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Friday, September 14, 2012

Stewardship 3: Stewardship of our Gifts, Talents and Abilities


Stewardship of our Gifts, Talents and Abilities

Previously in this series:
1 Peter 4:10 has reminded us that we are called to be good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 
Are you, am I, a good steward? 
It’s the good steward who gets the ‘well done’ from God. 
God ‘owns’ everything, and we are stewards, caretakers, managers, servants, of His grace…
This mindset is very important and if you struggle with it, pray about it, asking God for clarity, tell Him that you want to believe it, but you battle to.

Last week we saw that we are called to be good stewards of creation. The creation is the first thing in the Bible that God entrusts to us (through Adam and Eve). The Christian cannot believe that he/she doesn’t have to care about pollution, global warming, cruelty to the animals we eat, whether there will be water/oil for our grandchildren, etc. 
The Christian doesn’t have the freedom to say, ‘that’s not my problem, and besides what difference can I possibly make?’

This week we look at Stewardship of our Gifts, Talents and Abilities ....... stewardship of the potential that God has created within each one of us.

Our reading is Matthew 25:14-30

A reminder of our Mission Statement: 
Building a Community of Disciples to grow the Kingdom of God

This series is intended to grow us as a community of disciples.

Let's work through our Gospel reading:

“At that time the Kingdom of heaven will be like this. Once there was a man who was about to leave home on a trip; he called his servants and put them in charge of his property.”

The Kingdom of Heaven is the great equalizer – we are all (rich, poor, black, white, old, young, healthy, sick, clever or dim)– stewards of God and He puts each of us in charge of His property - our brains, our eyesight, our ability to do maths, our love of cooking.......all these belong to God..... The earth and the fullness thereof, is… God’s.

“He gave to each on according to his ability: to one he gave five thousand gold coins, to another he gave two thousand, and to another he gave one thousand. Then he left on his trip.”

Just as if we had to empty this church – some would be given a chair, some 2 or 3 chairs, some 10, some would be asked to carry these speakers and we would judge that according to your strength and your ability.
So God gives things to people according to what He knows our God given ability is.
This causes huge disproportions in the world and within the Church. We’re all different, unique. You might be sitting next to someone who God knows can handle 10 million rand appropriately, but God knows you can’t.
This sounds unfair, but it is the fairest thing in the world – to expect from you the same as the person next to you, that would be unfair. To expect a rugby prop to run as fast as a rugby wing is unreasonable. Different God given abilities and talents for different people. Is it unfair that Oscar Pistorius can't swim like Natalie du Toit? Of course not.

Instead of coveting what others have received: good looks, brains, a voice, abilities and talents… discover what YOU have been given by God and find peace and contentment as you use and invest it in God’s creation within the service of His Kingdom.

A few months ago, many of you discovered what your Spiritual Gift might be. What have you done since then? Uncovered it a bit more, tried to find out more, used it, or buried it in the ground until Cedric/Church tells me what to do with it.

 “The servant who had received five thousand coins went and invested his money and earned another five thousand. In the same way the servant who had received two thousand coins earned another two thousand. But the servant who had received on thousand coins went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money.”

Are you hiding the talent , the talents, that God has lent you, invested in you, asked you to steward on His behalf?

“After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The servant who had received five thousand coins came in and handed over the other five thousand. ‘You gave me five thousand coins, sir,’ he said. ‘Look! Here are another five thousand that I have earned.’ ‘Well done, you good and faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts. Come on in and share my happiness!’ Then the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, ‘You gave me two thousand coins, sir. Look! Here are another two thousand that I have earned.’ ‘Well done, you good and faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts. Come on in and share my happiness!’

‘Then the servant who had received one thousand coins came in and said, ‘Sir, I know you are a hard man; you reap harvests where you did no plant, and you gather crops where you did not scatter seed.’ .....................................Huh?

"I know you are a hard man."  Hmmm?

This man doesn’t know his master at all, just as anyone else who knows God and calls Him a ‘hard man’ doesn’t know Him at all.

‘You require more of us than you have given us power to perform’.......... that’s what he means when he says you want to reap where you have not sown.

Friends, that is not true of the Master in this parable, or of our Lord and so it is that we so often want to lay the blame for our sins on God. God made me this way. God put me in a situation where I had to cheat or lie or steal.

‘I was afraid, so I went off and hid your money in the ground. Look! Here is what belongs to you. ‘You bad and lazy servant!’ his master said. ‘You knew, did you, that I reap harvests where I did not plant, and gather crops where I did not scatter seed? Well then, you should have deposited my money in the bank, and I would have received it all back with interest when I returned.’

Now the master is getting angry, as He will on Judgment Day. In essence He says: "Don’t add lies to your laziness. If you did believe I was the difficult tasks master you’ve just said I am, you actually would have done more. But you’re talking nonsense.
You’ve actually relied on my generosity and kindness to you and my patience and mercy and decided “I’ll just give back to Him what He gave me and the old softie will say Oooooo, I love you so much…everything's OK, even your bad stewardship’

Verses 30 painfully reminds us of what the master actually says:  ‘Well, I’ve got news for you – go to hell’

Now, there is a sense in which this servant does no harm. At least he doesn’t lose it, gamble it away or frivolously spend it like that prodigal son in another parable. At least the master gets back his investment. But we all know what it’s like to invest R1000 in 1960 and in 2012 to go to the bank and ask for it and for the bank to just give R1000 back to us. 

God has invested… in us. He expects you, I, as good stewards….to generate a return on His investment.

Friends, there is no such thing as negative goodness in the Kingdom of God. You are not good just because you are not doing bad things......that doesn’t make us good.
Many people build hope of salvation on the fact that they are harmless, they don’t do bad things like everyone else, well, this attitude leads not to salvation but to damnation (John Wesley).

Using our abilities, our talents, our strengths, our gifts,...we are called not only to do no harm, but to do good. What have we done for God and His Kingdom here on earth this week? 

Conclude:

We are responsible to use well what God has given us and what He continues to entrust us with in the different seasons of life.
The issue is not how much we have, but how well we use what we have, to the glory of God.

Each believer, living as a good steward of the manifold grace of Godshould faithfully carry out the duties entrusted to him or her by God and multiply his or her God given gifts for the sake of the Kingdom. In this way we become good stewards.

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