The Ministry of Stewardship

Bible Book: Matthew  25
Subject: Christian Living; Servants; Stewards; Stewardship
Series: The Happy Giver
Introduction

We turn to Matthew 25 and see in this parable the Ministry of Stewardship. This is a sobering passage to say the least. Here are two great parables. The first of these teaches watching and the second teaches working till he comes.

I suppose every Christian wonders if he will hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” when he or she meets the Lord. I heard about a waiter who served a steak to a customer. The customer was disturbed because the steak had not been cooked as he asked. The customer said, “Didn’t you hear me say, “Well done?” The waiter said, “Oh, yes sir, I did. And thank you very much – we often get nice compliments in this restaurant.” Well, it is apparent that the waiter had not done his job well and had delivered a steak “undone” rather than "well done". How about us? Is our work for God ‘well done’ or ‘undone’? It is a subject we are going to consider as we look at the second message in our series on The Happy Giver.

Every Christian is called to be a minister. You may not be called to be a pastor or vocational minister or missionary, but all believers are ministers to the Lord and for the Lord. One way that all of us are called to minister is through stewardship.

When we see our entire lives as stewardship, it changes the way we look at everything in our living. Recalling his first impressions of evangelist D. L. Moody before he became famous, a businessman said, "The first time I ever saw him was in a little shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon keeper. He had managed to get possession of the place in order to hold a meeting that night. I was a little late and had never met Mr. Moody, but when I came in, the first thing I saw was a heavyset man standing up holding a small black boy in his arms. By the light of a few tallow candles he was trying to read to him the story of the prodigal son. A great many of the words he could not make out, and so he had to skip them. I thought, if the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will certainly astonish me! After the meeting was over, Moody said to me. `Mr. Reynolds, I have only one talent; I have no education, but I love the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to do something for Him. Pray for me.' We all know how mightily God used Moody."

I don’t remember where I read that story, but I have never forgotten it. You see, Moody knew that his entire life belonged to God. He wanted to be a proper steward of it. With a poor education and background, Moody went on to shake the world for Christ. The Moody Bible Institute stands today as a great and wonderful institution having trained thousands upon thousands of servants for the Lord. So, you and I must see our lives as belonging to God and be good stewards of all that He wishes to do with them.

Are you using your gifts as a steward for the Lord? That is a great question. I think of it often in my own life. Am I using whatever gifts, however small, for my Lord? So, let’s look at several things related to The Ministry of Stewardship.

I. The Contributions from the Master vs. 14

In the parable we have read, we note that the master of the house and land was going away and he contributed or gave talents to his servants. In doing this, he was making them stewards.

Now, exactly what was a talent in Bible days? A talent was actually money; it was a weight to measure out silver. One talent would equal about twenty years of labor. It represented labor, work, energy, and ministry.

You see, God has given each of us talents. He has given us the ability to earn, to work, and to serve. In this parable, we can see ourselves. God has given us His Son, and with that gift of life and love He has endowed us with many blessings. We are more greatly blessed than we can even understand. Some of us may overrate our gifts and think too highly of ourselves, but most of us, especially in spiritual things, think we have little to offer our Lord. We can be sure that you have been endowed by the Lord with something to contribute to His work that perhaps no one else on earth can contribute in the same way.

He gives us abilities, each according to His plan. To some of us He gives five talents, to others he gives tow talents and to some of us he gives one talent. The question is not how many talents we have from the Lord, but what are we doing with the contributions he has made to us? God does not ask me to give what He has not already given to me. Look at 1 Corinthians 4:7, "For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" Note that portion of the verse that asks, ""And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" In other words, God has given you certain abilities - certain gifts for use in this life. From that gifts, with work and proper care, you may obtain a measure of success, a proper livelihood, a treasure of things or money and a particular status in society. The question is, what are you doing with that which God has given you and allowed you to do and have? You see, the contributor in the story of stewardship is not the human giver but is rather the divine giver, God Himself, who has given us all things!

Actually, the talents God gives us are to be used for the benefit of the Master. That is the basis of the parable Jesus told. If we waste or hide a talent, we are robbing God of the investment He has made in us. We risk throwing away that which belongs to Him, and that which He is going to call for an account of one day.

Every Christian had talents and those talents represent opportunities to serve Him and do His work on this earth. We must think in those terms in order to practice the ministry of stewardship properly. Most people think of stewardship as only involving money. Actually, our bodies, minds, educations, strengths, personalities and everything about us has been given to us by the Lord. We are to be stewards to Him in all these matters. He made the investment in you, and you are to bring back a return to Him. If you miss this truth, you overlook, ignore or miss the most important issue related to stewardship!

II. The Devotion to the Master…15-18

Note in the parable Jesus told that the servants were to labor with the talents in a way that honored their Master. They are to think always about the cause of the Lord above their own cause. They are to invest the talents in order to bring glory to Christ.

Dear Christian, you and I are to think and lives with the attitude of honoring the Master. We are to be devoted to Him in such a way that He gains from our service and does not lose ground from our service. It can be said that every Christian is either a blessings or a bane to the work of God. We are either holding up the cross for the world to see or we are holding back to the work of Christ. What makes the difference? Our devotion to Christ makes all the difference in the world! We are to be useful and we are to be faithful!

Matthew 6:33 tells us that we are to bring glory to God through all our works. This is a great challenge to us. We tend to think of life in terms of our own comfort and enjoyment. We work in a job at a place of employment, a business we own, or in a home where we dwell. All the things we have to do are not enjoyable, but we look to the outcome and that creates enjoyment. the laborer looks toward payday. The homemaker thinks of her or his family members while doing chores that are mundane. The Christian may not enjoy everything he is called upon to do for the Lord, but He must look toward the results. This alone will create devotion in any task and that is especially true in the case of the Christian life.

Are we devoted to the Master? Is His joy our joy? Do we see that the air we breath and the life we possess is a gift from the Creator? Do we look back to the cross on which our Savior died and remember that it was a cup he did not wish to drink, but one that He swallowed looking for the joy that was set before Him ( Hebrew 12:3)? These thoughts bring us to our next point regarding the ministry of stewardship.

III. The Examination by the Master…19-30

Matthew 25:19 tells us that after a long time the Master came to check on what He had invested in His servants, His stewards. Be sure of this, we will face our Lord with the lives we have lived. The Master of the house will come again!

A. See the Call of the Lord for an Accountability

The master of the house called for an accountability regarding all that he had invested in his servants. This is a sobering thought. One day the Lord is going to call for us to give an account of what we did with all the talents (blessings, earnings, opportunities, etc.) that he imparted to us. I will not give and account to my friends. I can’t decide on my own if I have done a worthy job. In the end, the Lord will check on the records and determine the value of my stewardship. I will not be responsible for what someone else did not do or what someone else did. I can't complain that I lacked the talent of others. I can't whine that my life was so much more difficult than that of another Christian. The Lord knows all the issues involved. He simply wants to see what His investment in me has produced.

B. See the Commendation of the Lord for Dependability

In this parable, we see that the Lord commended two of his stewards. Why? He did so because they had been faithful and fruitful. They had taken what they master had given and used it to increase the kingdom of the master.

Are we increasing the Kingdom of our Master? He has invested much in us. Just think, He has given us life through the blood of His Son. You might think of yourself as someone who has very little talent – very little that can be used by the Lord.

David had a little sling, but when it was dedicated to God it brought down a mighty giant.

The little lad had but a small lunch. But, when that lunch was given to the Lord, it fed 5,000 with twelve baskets of leftovers to take home!

Moses had a rod, and once blessed of God it was world-changing.

Samson had a jawbone, Shamgar an oxgoad, and Esther had beauty, and each of them were used effectively in God’s work. All through the Bible, you see people who had but one talent, or one small object, but they dedicated it to God and history records the rest!

God is not interested in how great your gifts and abilities are, but it interested in what you do with them.

I have known some amazing Christians through the years. The men and women were not educated in the Ivy League colleges and universities. They did not possess movie star quality images. They were not gifted to be orators or great teachers. However, but faithful plodding and dedicated service, I watched them increase the kingdom of God year after year in many ways. They did not hide their “talent” in the sand. Their names are not recorded in any Christian history books, but they are recorded in God’s history books. One day we will hear about them when the Lord hands out crowns in glory!

Will you and I be commended for our service because we properly used the contributions God put into our lives and brought proper glory back to Him through dedication, commitment and faithfulness? That question often troubles me. Have I done all I can with all He has given. God help us to look seriously at the ministry of stewardship. It is easy to get caught up in living and forget what we are living for – Who we are living for!

C. See the Condemnation of the Lord for Liability

In the end, this parable reveals a servant who hid his talent and was cast out as an unfaithful servant. You must look at this man and see that he represents those who do not actually know the Lord. He was cast out into outer darkness.

Why is he rejected? You note that he hid his talent because he felt harshly toward his master. He did not actually know the Master. You see, this man did not believe in the goodness, love and nature of the Master. In fact, if the servant had invested the talent, it would belong to the master in the end. But, isn’t it possible that he buried it because he wanted to keep it for himself! Selfishness condemned the man!

Conclusion

Is there someone here in this service who does not serve the Lord because you are afraid you will be throwing away your life? Are you afraid to come to the Lord because of what He will ask of you? Are you hiding because you think you will miss the joy of living your own life instead of living a life for Jesus?

An article some years ago told the story of a man who buried his life savings in the ground because he mistrusted banks. He dug a hole and hid all his savings. Five years later he went out to get his money and found that it had rotted in the ground. Barely one-third of all he had buried was salvaged. At 82 years of age he suffered a great financial loss.

My friend, whatever you commit to Christ will last. You never need fear loss of that which is given to Him. You never lose what you do for Him or give to Him. Laying up treasure in heaven means putting your savings in a place where it will not rot and cannot be stolen. Whether it is your time, energy, gifts, financial contributions or any other thing you dedicate to Him, it will never suffer loss!

Give your life to Jesus today. And, if you are a Christian, rededicate yourself to be a steward of all you have, all you are and all that the Master has entrusted to you. Ask yourself in this very service, “Am I all I can be, doing all I can do, with all He has given me?” To answer that honestly, will bring many of us to our knees in this service.

Now let us pray, and as soon as the prayer ends, come forward and make the commitments God is calling us to make to Him.