Peninsula Community Church
May 4, 2014
Be Rich: Do More, Give More
Today, we begin a new series.While this is a new series it is in reality a continuation of our previous series on the body, soul, and spirit. The title for this series is “Be Rich: Do more and Give more.” Now in an effort to give full disclosure, I must be honest with you and let you know that I borrowed the series title from Andy Stanley (with his permission of course). While this is his title, the substance of the message will be laid out in a different context.
I also want to caution you to not let the title throw you at all. This will not be a get rich quick kind of sermon. This will not be a name and claim it type message either. It will be one, however, that will lay out some specific tenants that will help us understand the spiritual richness and completeness that comes from having an appropriate understanding of what true Biblical stewardship is all about.
Our verse this morning is a long one but it is a perfect verse for this part of our series. Because it is the perfect verse, we will park here for a couple of weeks as we review the truth expressed through these verses. In this passage, we find Jesus responding to an inquiry on what the return of the Lord will look like.
Because of the length of this text, I will only read a couple of verses and then summarize the rest of the story. So here in Matthew 25:14-30, we find Jesus’ response to the question posed to Him. Here he relates the story of a master, a land owner, who leaves for a trip. Jesus said “For it (the return of Christ) will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away….
Now let me summarize the rest of the story for you. It should be noted here that the master never tells his servants what to do with the talents. He simple doles out the talents and then leaves. There is an implied sense here that they knew what to do without being coerced or told what to do in that moment. In our story, we find that one of the servants received five talents. He took those five talents and produced an additional five talents. The second servant was given two talents. He too took his talents and multiplied them so that he now had four talents. The third servant was given one talent but he chose to not multiply the talent he had been given. He chose instead to hide what he had been given. When the master returned, he called the servants into accountability. The first two servants reported their gain and the success of their investments. These servants were praised by the master. He stated “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Meanwhile, the third servant confided in the master that he hid his talent because he assumed that somehow he was preserving what had been given to him. He states that he was afraid of the master. Rather than being praised, we find that the master portrays him as being wicked and slothful. Rather than stewarding what had been given him, he kept it hidden and lost the opportunity for growth for himself and for his master.
With this story in mind, lets look at a couple of things this morning about stewardship. First, when the master gave the servants the talents, he was calling on them to become stewards. To understand this we must define what a steward is. The term steward in Biblical times was a person who manages another’s property or financial affairs or they administer anything as the agent of another or others. Please note that this includes more than money as it could be everything owned by the master. In essence, a steward is a manager. He manages another’s household or finances.
In Biblical times it is also noteworthy that the steward was often a freedman. This means that a steward was once a slave who had been released from forced or legal servitude. The individual who was once a slave now serves the master because they want to and not because they are forced to. Before they received their freedom, the freedman was one who had been bound by slavery to serve his or her master. They had to obey the master without question. But as freedmen, everything changed. Rather than serving the master out of fear or forced labor, they now serve their master as a personal choice and with a desire to honor and please their master.
Think about this for a moment. Look at what that means for us as believers. I believe if we could grasp this principle, the focus of our stewardship would change. How we handle everything we own would change. The fact is that before Christ came into our hearts we were slaves to sin. We were mastered by sin and were forced to obey its proclivities. We were focused on ourselves and what we could gain in life rather than how we could bless others. Before Christ, we believed that we owned everything and that our destiny was totally in our hands. Therefore, we set out to get more through any means possible and at any cost. In this state of mind, we lived without any consideration of God’s will or His plan for us. We were in bondage to sin and sin controlled our ways, our thoughts, and our responses to God. But, now we serve God as freedmen. We serve Him because we want to and not because we are forced. If we could establish this principle in our hearts, the way we view stewardship would be changed forever.
Secondly, to grasp this principle we must begin with the premise and have the understanding that God owns everything but we have the joy and the privilege to manage what we possess on behalf of God. Let me repeat this, everything we have belongs to God. Look at how David describes this reality. He stated “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Psalms 24:1-2). God owns it, but he has given it to us to steward for our enjoyment and to bring Him glory.
There is a third principle present in this story. The principle is true stewardship has less to do about the possession of things and more about the character of the heart. Tony Dungy in his devotional book, “Uncommon Life” stated that in life we need substance over style. He stated that the inward character of a person is more important than his outward appearance. As we know from our study of the body, soul and spirit, the inward character of the heart will dictate our outward responses. This applies quite appropriately to our discussion on stewardship. The heart of the person will determine their stewardship more than the outward show of religious piety. In other words, we can exhibit all of the right expressions of worship. We can quote scripture. We can present ourselves as more holy than others, but the heart will almost always betray us and expose us for who we really are.
We have stated before that the condition of our heart will determine the actions we take. If our heart is right, then our actions will be right. If your belief system is in alignment with God’s word and His will, then our actions will also be in alignment with God’s word and His will. When our heart is right, we will be freer to steward everything in a more positive way and with a heart that honors God.
This reminds me of a story I heard some time ago. A local United Way office realized that it had never received a donation from the town’s most successful lawyer. The person in charge of contributions called the lawyer to persuade him to contribute: “Our research shows that out of a yearly income of at least $500,000, you give not a penny to charity. Wouldn’t you like to give back to the community in some way?” The lawyer mulled this over for a moment and replied: “First, did your research also show that my mother is dying after a long illness, and has medical bills that are several times her annual income?” Embarrassed, the United Way rep mumbled, “Um…no.” The lawyer continued: “Or that my brother, a disabled veteran, is blind and confined to a wheelchair?” The stricken United Way rep began to stammer out an apology. The lawyer interrupted her apology, saying: “Or that my sister’s husband died in a traffic accident,” the lawyer’s voice rising in indignation, “leaving her penniless with three children?!” The humiliated United Way rep, completely beaten, said simply, “I had no idea…” On a roll, the lawyer cut her off once again: “…So, if I didn’t give any money to them, why should I give any money to you?” So what was the attitude of his heart? What was his motivation in life?
The final though I want to share this morning is that biblical stewardship requires that we have a correct view of the master. Look what happens in our story. We find that two of three servants found joy in multiplying what had been given to them. But, for the third servant, we see a disturbing attitude in his heart. When we read the story, we find that the third servant did not properly steward what he had been given because he was afraid of the master. In other words, his view of the master caused him not to handle what he had been given properly. His reasoning for not stewarding what he had been given was motivated by fear. He viewed the master as a hard tough man. This attitude prevented him from managing the talent he had been given.
The fact is our view of God will effect our stewardship. When we have a a false view of God, we tend to hoard and not give away. We tend to hide and not be transparent. We will tend to walk in fear and not in hope. Notice, that we do not see this response from those who doubled the investment. If we view God as a mean and evil God who demands obedience, we will also most likely hide what we have because we are afraid of losing what we have. But, if we view Him as a loving God who allows us to manage his possessions for His glory and for our enjoyment, we will be freed up to give more, and thus do more for the kingdom. The kingdom of God will be expanded and we will reap the benefits in the long run.
So how is your heart this morning? Do you see that all you possess belongs to God? Is your stewardship motivated by fear or by love and joy? How does your view of God change how you steward your possessions? The answers to these questions will change your view of stewardship.