Using what God's given us

Matthew 25: 14-30      The parable of the talents


·      Who here has seen dragons den?  You have a judging board of successful entrepreneurs who listen to pitches from would be inventors
·       Imagine that you are just given several thousand pounds, I’m going away, look after this
·       It is like a dragons den, in reverse.  Instead of having to prove the worthiness of our plans we are just given a lump sum, - here have this, see what you can do with it.  It is the ultimate in faith. A gift, no questions asked, no need to justify our need of it, no need to impress or earn it.  
·       What a gift – Uh I’m not sure what you want to do with your life, but here’s a chunk of money and give it a go?  What an opportunity to pursue your dreams, what a message of hope.  What a sign of trust!
·       The tone of the text makes it clear that there is no real failure except the failure to try,  just a time in the future when we are going to need to show we have used it. 
·       We can draw several things from the parable of the talents
·       God has given each of us gifts, and has more for us, the gifts mentioned in Ephesians are the more visible gifts, but are not exclusive, there are many more gifts we can recognise.
·       God’s gifts are not necessarily for our own use or pleasure, but rather for us to build the kingdom of God, the mature Christian gives back to God from what God has given them, however God’s gifts will motivate and inspire us, God is a good giver, he does not give us gifts that are a chore, but rather gifts that give us life.
·       What is missing?  There are 3 potential examples, yet we only have two outcomes, to do nothing with God’s entrusted gift or to try and succeed.  There is no failure other than the failure to have a go.  There is space to try and fail, but it is not recognised as such, to try is to succeed.  The harsh taskmaster that the fearful servant refers to is just part of the fear that is binding them from action.     
·       The third servant mistook the masters intention and opted for safety rather than service
·       The image of the master as a hard taskmaster is not linked to God, rather this would make it harder to respond to God lovingly. It is an excuse to justify inaction, an excuse that is belied by the actions in the story.  A talent is equal to several thousand pounds.  A harsh taskmaster would not entrust servants with large sums of money while absent. 
·       Rather the master models generosity and faithfulness, what they do not need for their journey they have shared out amongst those left behind.   There is no qualification, just the quantity of the gift. And when the master returns Faithfulness is rewarded
·       The different sums represent  our differences, our gifts, abilities and capabilities
·       But both successful servants receive the same commendation – regardless of the difference in responsibility and achievement
·       While in the parable there is an easy differentiation of greater and lesser gifts through the monetary value, we should recognise that in the topsy-turvy world of the kingdom of God, attempting to rank gifts is ill advised.  Comparisons between each other are null and void, none of us can walk in another’s shoes and so we are poor judges of our relative importance, of the gifts we might be exercising daily just to keep going.  God recognises the effort and the intent, the exercise of faithfulness rather than the value of the gift.  
·       Even if we consider that we have a lesser gift, the parable makes it clear that it does not excuse us from effort, and we have only to look to the story of the widows mite to gain a fuller understanding of how God recognises even the smallest gift, due to the faithfulness of the giver.
·       There are no roles in church that are not valuable, there are no members of the church that do not have an important role to play.  None of us are passengers, we are all crew.
·       All of us have a role in the kingdom of God, each one of us has a special gift from Christ, all of us are expected to be faithful and generous with what God has given us.
·       We are called to be generous not fearful, generous with our time, our efforts, with our love and with ourselves  Jeremiah 30:10?  But as for you, have no fear my servant Jacob 
·       It is in being generous with our gifts that we truly receive. God takes our hopes and our dreams and weaves them into his purposes, as we are generous in faithfully giving out of the gifts and abilities that God has given us, we are released to take hold of the glorious destiny  that we have as children of God.  God  has space for you to exercise your hopes and desires in the service of his kingdom. Each of us needs to reach out in faith, to be honest about our hopes and dreams, and to put the good gifts we have been given into practice
·       Part of Jesus overcoming is for Him to give gifts to people.  When we exercise our gifts, we are both symbolically and practically building the Kingdom of God
·       We need to use discernment and generosity - Let us view the world with discerning and generous eyes, aware of what we have been given and what we can do to help.

Jon Foster, 19/02/2017