Matthew 25:14-30 My Responsibility
I have entitled today’s sermon “My Responsibility” (Matthew 25:14-30). I am beginning a series today about “My Responsibility.” In this sermon series, we will look at responsibility in various areas of my Christian life. We will look at the fact that I need to be responsible and the kinds of responsibilities that God gives me. In Matthew 25, we have three parables. Each parable describes two groups of people: believers and unbelievers. The believers are the virgins with oil in their lamps, multiple talents which are invested, and the sheep. The unbelievers are the virgins without the oil, the slave with the one talent that is never invested, and the goats. The first parable is about finding the gospel, the second parable is about figuring out my abilities and using them, and the third parable is about my fostering relationships with others.
The three parables talk about receiving the gospel and how we manage it.
Arnold Fruchtenbaum states that the point of the parable is to re-emphasize, the necessity to keep on laboring while watching and waiting. He states that the distinction is not between different kinds of believers, but between believers and unbelievers. The believers will keep on laboring while they are watching for the Lord’s return; but the unbeliever cannot labor in the work of the Lord, and therefore will have nothing to show at the time of the Lord’s return. This servant is declared to be the wicked one. He ends up in the place of outer darkness and the place of the weeping and the gnashing of teeth, the descriptive phrases of the Lake of Fire.1
Wayne Ward states that the three parables point to the final judgment. The parable of the virgins emphasizes eternal vigilance; the parable of the talents responsible stewardship; and the Son of man on the throne emphasizes the basis of final judgment: the way men have treated his “brethren” and, therefore, the king himself. Those who do the will of his Father are his brethren. Jesus means that if men ignore or reject his church, his followers, they are rejecting him; and they will be cast into everlasting punishment.2
So the big question in this second parable is this: Do I use what God has given me to share the gospel before Jesus returns? Or do I hide what God has given me in fear waiting for the mean Master to return?
Notice that the parable of the ten virgins and this parable of the servants is connected by this phrase:
“Therefore be alert, because you don’t know either the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)
This parable is clearly about how we are to serve before Jesus returns. The scene for this parable would be the judgment seat, where Christians are REWARDED for their effectiveness and faithfulness in sharing the gospel.
The unprofitable servant is PUNISHED, and not REWARDED. There will be two judgments: (1) Salvation judgment – salvation for those who followed Christ and condemnation for those who did not follow Christ. (2) Works judgment – Christians will be judged by their good works that they did in the body. The third parable is an application of the first parable – the separation of the goats and the sheep, and it is specifically for the Gentile nations. The third parable uses the same language as the mission that Jesus gave in Luke 4.
So as Christians, we can’t just sit and say that everything is ok because we are saved from eternal hell. We need to be ready to do good works and use what God has given us to help other people.
Example: If I give a hairstylist a comb scissors, that person would know what to do. If I give a carpenter some wood, a hammer, and nails, he would know what to do.
The talents represent opportunities to use our abilities. If five talents were given to a person with minimal ability, he would be destroyed by the heavy responsibility. But if only one talent were given to a man of great ability, he would be disgraced and degraded.3
God has given you gifts and in this story if you don’t use them, you lose them. You lose the tools. You lose effectiveness. You lose the reward.
PROBLEM: What am I hiding from God?
AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY
So, too, Jesus has gone away to heaven to prepare a place for us. In the meantime, He has given us talents—money, energy, and abilities. It’s interesting to me that the fellow who didn’t show responsibility was the one with only one talent. That’s often where the danger lies with us as well. The person who realizes he has a great musical gift will more often than not develop his gift and seek to use it. But the person who says, “I can’t sing. I can’t preach. I can’t do miracles,” often buries his one talent, whatever it might be.4
MOTIVE: Why am I hiding it?
The wickedness and laziness are in the fact that I choose to hide things that God can bless when I serve Him. What excuses am I using to say? My evil and laziness is because I would rather make excuses about God.
HOW CAN A CHRISTIAN BE THIS LAZY?
A Christian gets this lazy because they start making excuses:
God is a hard God. (25:24a)
God wants too much from me (25:24c)
God expects the impossible (25:24b)
I need to be scared of God and His judgments (25:25) —> this is a lie.
God said He was coming back, but the lazy servant didn’t wait for Him. The problem with the lazy servant and me, is my desire to IGNORE God and IGNORE the consequences.
Instead, I should ask God for forgiveness for my poor judgment and ask for help in investing. Instead, I blame God, become afraid, and I hide.
Someone might say, “I don’t know what to do.” Well, what has God put in your hand? What has He given you? Whatever God has given to you as an ability, give it back to Him improved because you have managed it with all of your heart.5
RESULTS OF NOT REPENTING FROM MY EXCUSES
#1 – My blessing is taken away and given to someone else (Matthew 25:28-29).
If we don’t use our talent for God, we will lose it. It doesn’t remain dormant. It won’t remain hidden. We will end up not having the opportunity we had at the beginning. On the other hand, if we are faithful in the use of our abilities, God will multiply our opportunities for service. The way to grow in influence and service is to use what we already have—then the Lord will reward us with more opportunity.6
Notice that in the parable that the one who had one, it was taken away. Where did it go? The one talent went to the person who had ten talents. Why is that? God will lift the blessing He gave you and multiply it to someone who is more faithful and fruitful.
You wonder why you don’t have any money? You wonder why your ministry is not growing? You wonder why your family life is a mess? Maybe it is because you are a wicked and lazy servant who is hiding from God.
What does this make you when your blessing is taken away and given to someone else? It makes you miserable. This “misery” described here is not necessarily a physical description of hell. Why do I say that? Because all three of these men were God’s servants. God’s servants don’t go to hell. So this cannot be a physical description of hell. Instead, this is a description of isolation – “the outer darkness.” I take that to mean that this is a description of a “state of being” instead of a place. In this case, this is a form of isolation, or personal misery.
Let me say it this way: I will be miserable if I don’t let God bless me by helping me with what He gives me.
#2 – I get excluded from the awards party. (Matthew 25:30).
Example: The Oscars
If you work hard as an actor, you get nominated and you may receive a reward. If you don’t work hard, you are not even invited to the awards ceremony or the party.
“based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me.” (1 Timothy 1:11, HCSB)
And this is the gospel: “The gospel of the glory of the happy God.” It is good news that God is gloriously happy. No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God. If God is unhappy then the goal of the gospel is not a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all. But, in fact, Jesus invites us to spend eternity with a happy God.7
““His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’” (Matthew 25:23, HCSB)
Remember, someday we will have to give an account at the judgment seat of Christ. As Christians, we won’t be judged for our sins—they have already been forgiven. But we will be judged for the stewardship of those things God has given us. We’ll be judged on quality, not quantity. We have been given incredible potential for serving God. How are we putting ours to use?8
1 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : a Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 647.
2 Wayne E. Ward, “Matthew,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 612.
3 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 92.
4 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 188.
5 David Jeremiah, Until Christ Returns: Living Faithfully Today While We Wait for Our Glorious Tomorrow (Study Guide) (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 74.
6 David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2002), 93.
7 John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, Rev. and expanded. (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2000), 26.
8 David Jeremiah, Sanctuary: Finding Moments of Refuge in the Presence of God (Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers, 2002), 93.