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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Study Notes for Stewardship 3

Week 3
Stewardship of Our Talents, Abilities and Spiritual Gifts
16 September 2012

The Parable of the Talents
Aim of the lesson
• To appreciate the gifts God has given us and look at how we are using them.
Study passage: Matthew 25:14-30.
• Jesus was on the Mount of Olives when the parables in Chapters 24 and 25 were told (Mt 24:3). Across the Kidron Valley they would have been able to see the walled city of Jerusalem and the magnificent temple. It must have been a wonderful sight. Yet Jesus looked at it and said it was all going to be desecrated and destroyed (Mt 24:1-2, 15). Why? Was it because Israel had failed to use her 'talent', her covenant relationship with God? This may have been one of the thoughts in Jesus' mind as He told the story. But of course it has a much broader and deeper meaning for the religious life as a whole.
• A talent was actually a measure of weight (about 30 kg). A talent of silver would today be worth several thousand rands. In the parable the talents are meant to represent all the gifts and blessings which God gives us; nature, material wealth, abilities, opportunity, health, character, intellect, grace, privilege, love etc. Some people receive in abundance, others get just a few. The main point is that these gifts (talents) really belong to God, not to us. They are loaned to us and we are accountable to God for the way we use them or misuse them. Obviously too, they must not be used selfishly but for Him, in His service, and in the service of others.
• Verse 14: 'a man going on a journey....' The reference here is to the time in which we are presently living, the period between Christ's ascension and His coming again. All three of the parables in Matthew 25 focus on the return of Christ and the final judgment.
• Verses 21-23: These two men had different gifts. But they had both worked equally hard and therefore they received equal rewards. We are not rewarded for our abilities or the quantity of the talents we have been entrusted with. We are rewarded for our diligence and for trying. The person who has very little may in fact have worked harder with it than the person who has plenty. It is interesting that the reward’ for work well done is not rest, but more work. Is there an implication here that there will still be work for us to do in heaven? It would seem so.
• Verses 18 and 25-27: This man failed to use his talent, either for his own benefit or for anyone else's. Even if he had ventured and lost God might still have said, 'well done'. We cannot excuse ourselves because we have received little. We cannot say, my gift is so insignificant that it doesn't matter if I don't do anything with it. God will accept our work with all its shortcomings provided we have tried, and done it with a good heart. • Verse 29: The law of gifts is very simple. If you don't use it you lose it. If you do use it, you get more.

Questions for discussion:
Mt 25:14-30
1.  Why does God give some people many gifts and some just a few?
2.  Why does God hold people accountable for the way they use the gifts they have been given? What right has He to do so?
3.  Why did the man with only one talent fail to use it?
4.  In the silence think for a moment what gifts has God given you? Make a list on paper. What have you done with your gifts? What more do you think you should be doing with them? Share what you have written with the group.
5.  How can we discover our gifts?

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