LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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BE ACTIVE

 

 

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:25)

 

The previous chapter, Be Prepared, closed with the verse that is the foundation for what we will study in this chapter. We must be prepared for the coming of the Lord by being diligent to keep our experience with God up to date, to avoid backsliding, and to be active in the work of God. The ten virgins were given a significant honor and responsibility in that they were invited to guide the bridegroom to the wedding. Half of them failed because they were not prepared to wait, the result being they missed the wedding feast altogether. Death and judgment await us all; and it is certain that we will give an account to God for the work we either did or did not do for the Kingdom of God.

In this chapter with the Parable of the Talents, Jesus teaches us how we must be active in His kingdom. The Parable of the Ten Virgins teaches us that going to heave requires our being prepared; the Parable of the Talents teaches us that going to heaven requires our being active. This is not teaching salvation by works, we will explore what Jesus meant when He said, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

 

ABOUT THE STORY

 

While Mark does not deal with this parable in great detail, the concept is found where he mentions “a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work.” (Mark 13:34). Matthew’s account begins with almost the exact same words, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his good to them.” We understand that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, and the biblical church are essentially the same, the church being the subjects of the kingdom. It then becomes obvious that the servants represent those in the church.

The story is about three servants, each receiving an amount of money from the master according to their particular abilities. The master does not tell the servants what to do with the money, but because of their positions in the household it is understood they are to invest the money and make a reasonable return for the master while he is gone.

The master returns from his trip and calls for his servants to give account of the investments they made for him. The first servant had been given ten talents and his investments returned the master another ten talents. For his faithfulness he was given a reward commensurate with the return. The second servant had been given five talents and his investments returned the master another five talents. For his faithfulness he was given a reward commensurate with the return.

The third servant had been given one talent and his investment returned nothing because, instead of investing it, the servant buried it in the ground. He gave his master the original talent with absolutely no return. There is a reason behind what this servant did. He was not a risk taker as were the other two servants; and, in a way, he felt superior to them because of this. He knew his master was a risk taker and he had observed over time that sometimes an investment paid off and sometimes an investment failed and a loss was suffered. Rather than to take the risk of losing the investment, he put it in a safe place so there could be no loss, thinking his master would be pleased with his conservativeness. The master did not appreciate that at all. He said to the servant, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So ought you to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.” Instead of receiving a reward he felt was due him, he was cast into the outer darkness where this is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

HOW MUCH IS A TALENT?

 

A talent is the weight of 6 minas and equal to 75 pounds. On June 10, 2015, the spot price of one ounce of gold was $1,185.68. 75 pounds is 1200 ounces, therefore on talent of gold is worth $1,422,816. The servants were given a great deal of value with which to work. The ten talents was worth $14,228,160; the five talents was worth $7,114,080; and, the one talent given to the lazy servant was worth $1,422,816. No matter which servant you might consider, all were given a tremendous amount of responsibility, but responsibility the master knew they could handle.

The first time a talent is mentioned in the Bible is in Exodus 25:39. In this passage, Moses is giving instructions for the building of the tabernacle and all of its parts and utensils. In verse 31 he writes, “You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work.” It happens that this lampstand was to be made from one talent of gold, “It shall be made of a talent of pure gold.” (Verse 39). This lampstand was located in the holy place of the tabernacle, which was totally enclosed by curtains with no natural light at all. The lampstand was made specifically for giving light in that deep darkness.

It is fairly easy to recognize that the lampstand is a type, or representation, of Jesus Christ. The Apostle John writes of Christ in John 1:4–5, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness.” From the Parable of the Talents we can understand the talents to be our witness of the true light, which is Christ. Verses 6-9, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.” It may not be apparent upon first reading, but if you Bible uses capital letters to indicate deity, notice that in the phrase “that all things through him might believe,” the word “he” is in lower case. This indicates that the “he” in the verse means John the Baptist—that all through John the Baptist might believe. Extending the implication of these verses to our day, it means that god intends for people to believe in Christ and His offer of salvation through the witness of the church—you!

 

RELATING THE PARABLE TO THE PRESENT DAY

 

The master is obviously Jesus, Who made atonement for sin on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. The servants are the church, to whom He has entrusted the preaching of the gospel, the message about the light that lights “every man coming into the world.”

As saved people, we all are held accountable to invest our talents for the purpose of making a return for Christ. In other words, we are charged with the responsibility of telling others of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ so that they may be saved and brought into the church, the body of Christ.

Each of us is given talents according to our ability. It may be the pastor has ten talents and a great deal of responsibility. It may be that the Sunday school teachers and youth workers have five talents, and a great deal of responsibility. It may be that the saints in the pews have just one talent, and a great deal of responsibility. But, it may also be that the talents can be distributed differently; a saint in the pew having ten talents; a pastor having five talents; a Sunday school teaching having one talent; or any combination thereof.

Jesus has gone off to the far country, heaven, and He will return. We do not know when, but we all are to be active in investing our talents, active in sharing the gospel with others. You are responsible for the degree of light you have and Christ expects you to influence as many people with the gospel as your degree of light will allow.

 

WICKED AND LAZY SERVANTS

 

There are many faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven but there are also some Jesus calls wicked and lazy servants. These are people that will not take a chance with the gospel. They have become Christians, they have one talent of light, but they realize that the gospel requires a deep commitment that will cost them much in the way of things they value. The wicked and lazy servant hides his talent in the ground; that is, he hides his light in his humanity so that the lost he encounters that need to hear the gospel cannot hear or see it in his life.

 

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:3, KJV).

 

The faithful servants put out as much gospel as they can, praying to reach as many people with the message of salvation from sin as possible. This requires effort and taking chances. Not everyone with whom they share the gospel will appreciate it. It may cost them friends or damage their relationships with family members. While they do not share their light with the intent to antagonize people, they realize the more the spread the gospel the greater opportunity they have to reach people with it. It is in this sense they bring a 100% return to Christ. Every Christian that wins one person to the Lord achieves a 100% return! Regardless if one has ten, five, or just one talent, winning just one person to the Lord is a 100% return for which Jesus will give the best reward of all: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

But the person that hides his talent, however many that may be, fails to be active in the work of the kingdom and he will find himself cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This does not sound like heaven!

 

A SIMILAR TEACHING OF JESUS FROM LUKE CHAPTER 14

 

In the “Lazy Church” people have the idea that we just pray and the Holy Spirit makes the increase happen. That is far from what Jesus teaches in this parable. It is a matter of obeying His command; we are to be active. Jesus gives us our orders in a similar parable He taught earlier in His ministry. It is about a master that planned a great supper and invited many guests.

Luke 14:17, “. . . and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, Come, for all things are now ready.” This is level one of giving witness of our light. According to the custom, the guest received invitations and gave an affirmative response several days earlier. The job of the servant at this time was to announce that the dinner was ready and it was time for them to come. This is like inviting people to church. It is good, but in the story we see that the people made excuses not to come. This is so common in our day; people may say they will come to church when we invite them, but never show up.

Verse 21, “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.” Jesus tells us to go after the undesirable. We are not just to invite them; we are to bring them in. This suggests getting involved with people, learning about them, listening to them as they talk about their life’s situation. Taking time to be with people gives us insights into how the gospel can meet their life-situation and be the very answer to that situation. Yes, invite them to come to church, but do more, bring them in.

In verse 23 Jesus gives us one more step in witnessing to our light, “Then the master said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” There are people who are very different from us, as if they are way out of our way and our comfort zone. Their skin may be a different color, they may speak with an accent, they may have customs and mannerisms different from ours—they may even be of a different religion. These people may resist the light because we are so different from them—after all, our skin may be a different color, to them we may have a funny accent, etc. Jesus said to compel them to come. The word “compel” means to make necessary; so, we do not take “no” for an answer. We pray and carry a burden for them; we attach ourselves to them until they see the light, Christ, the light that lights every man. When the finally see Jesus, they will come to the supper.

As we put our talent out to people, the Holy Spirit will bless the effort and make our feeble attempts profitable for the kingdom. Wouldn’t you like to bring at least one soul to Jesus? BE ACTIVE.