Sunday, September 15, 2019 - Parables: Are You Ready?
For the past couple of weeks, we have been talking about parables and how they are designed to help us see past ourselves. Parables get behind our defenses and help us to see things as they really are. We covered the parables of the missing coin and the lost sheep - the parables that talk about how God is always searching for us. We covered the parable of the sower and the seed, where there are different conditions of the heart - only one being receptive to what God has to say. This week, we are talking about the parable of the gifts - or the parable of the talents. When Jesus is telling these parables, he is talking to the common people - not the rulers or aristocracy - people like you and me. They often have the same questions we have. Does God think about me? What does God think about me? We think, "I'm not special or important. There is not really anything I can do for God..." Yet, God has given each of us gifts and talent to use for the glory of God and for the Kingdom of God.
Jesus goes on to tell a parable. I'll paraphrase here. A master gives gifts to his servants. To one servant five talents, one servant two talents, and one servant one talent - to each according to what they could handle. The master exits the scene. The first servant goes out, risks, and makes five more talents. The second goes out, risks, makes two more talents, and the third one is scared, so he buries his talent in the ground. The master comes back to settle accounts with the servants. They all show him what they have done. To the first and second ones, the master says, "Well done good and faithful servant! Come join in your master's happiness!" However, the third one tells his master what he has done with the master's gifts. He says to the master, "I knew you were a harsh man who
reaps where you have not sown. I was scared of what you might say or do if I risked this gift, so I buried it in the ground." Needless to say, the master is not very happy with this servant. He takes the gift back from this servant and gives it to the first one and tosses the guy out.We might view this as being kind of cruel, but think about it. This guy was given a bag of gold equating to about 20 years worth of wages. He had been given a huge gift. He could have done so much with it. The master wanted him to do thing with it, or he wouldn't have given it to him. Instead the guy chose to bury it in the ground out of fear and laziness.
Let's think about our own lives for a minute here. We might say to ourselves, "I don't have any gifts." But that is simply not the truth. Each of us has something that God has given us to use. Can you encourage people in a world that passes out discouragement left and right? Can you make someone laugh in a world that makes people cry? Can you play an instrument? Can you draw? Paint? Sculpt? There are things you can do to give glory to God and to further the Kingdom of God.
Sometimes, it can seem scary to use our gifts. When we're presented with problems in this world, we might ask, "Why me?" But, the more appropriate question to ask is, "What now?" What can I do now? How can I use my gifts to further the Kingdom of God?
Projections of fear can overwhelm us though. We can be too scared to use our gifts. We get the, "what if's." What if this happens? What if that happens...? Maybe we better just sit back and try to slide under God's and everyone else's radar. Fear can overwhelm and paralyze us. We can also get lazy and slip into the "Someone else will do it" mentality where we think, yes, I may be able to do that one thing, but I'm sure someone else will take care of it. I don't have to do anything. Once we fall into that state of mind, it is difficult for us to get out of it because its an easy place to be. It's an easy place to relax.
We also are prone to falling into the "It's all about me" mentality. In this world, it's difficult not to fall into that. Every commercial ever made is catered to a certain audience. Chances are, no matter who you are, you fall into an audience that an ad agency is targeting and you've seen ads that make you want to go out and buy whatever they are selling. We are catered to in other ways as well. You've heard in retail the number one
rule... "The customer is always right!" whether they really are or not. We are so used to being entitled to things that it is just easy to think that it is all about us, when in all reality, it is all about God, and it is all about using what God has given us to glorify God and to further the Kingdom of God in our world.
Imagine what our world would be like if instead of holding back our gifts and talents out of fear, we all used our gifts and talents for the glory of God and for the Kingdom of God!