Anglican Church of Australia Innisfail/Tully
SERMON

Pentecost 24  2017

 

    
In the Parable of the talents there are some very interesting facets to be drawn out which are relevant to our lives in the service of Christ and to one another.

Let us begin with the allocation of the funds. Notice that the master gave the bags of gold to his servants. He gave varying amounts to the servants in accordance with his assessment of the abilities of the servants. He is entrusting his wealth to them. We should notice that there are no instructions, no thou shalts, and shalt nots the investments is at their discretion. The servants are simply entrusted with the master’s wealth according to their ability.

I think one of the most important words in this reading is the first word, “Again”. Why does Jesus begin with Again? This is a link between last week’s gospel reading and this week’s Gospel reading. Let us look at how Jesus began last week’s reading:
At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like
This is very important, the whole basis of Jesus’ teaching on the bags of gold relates to the kingdom of heaven, nothing else.

Each of us as Christians have been given very clear instructions by Jesus in his commissioning.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Just as the master who gave the gold to his servants did not give the servants any instructions on the care of the funds, Jesus has not given you and I specific instructions on how to make disciples.

The master gave each of the servants a quantity of gold according to their ability. None of the servants were expected to perform beyond their ability but within their God given skills. In the development of the kingdom of God each of us have been entrusted with God’s resources for the furtherance of the kingdom, for the creation of disciples.

The Church, the body of Christ, will be continued and developed by the creation and growth of the congregations of the Church.  If any generation should fail to develop succession within the Body the Church will be less vigorous.

Firstly, we should examine what each of the servants did with their master’s assets. The first put his resources to work to achieve a 100% growth, as did the second servant. However, the third servant put his masters gift some where he thought safe, a hole in the ground.

Each of us have been given God’s gifts according to our abilities. We have very simple choices: We can find a hole in which to bury our talents, so that they never see the light of day or we can put God’s gifts to work. Note that after a long time the master returned and settled accounts with his servants. The Kingdom heaven will be like this; God and our Lord Jesus Christ will settle accounts with us. We will be accountable.

For the successful servants we note that the master was very grateful and heaped praise upon them. The most encouraging part of this for me was that the mastered called upon the servants to “come and share your master’s happiness”. If we are successful in the use of the gifts that the Lord gives us, we are able to share God’s happiness.

Paul makes an invaluable contribution to this aspect when he says:
For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have each been given gifts for the furtherance of God’s work on earth, for the increase of the kingdom. But Paul notes this is not based on God’s wrath but on the reception of salvation. Our reward for the work of God is firstly sharing in God’s joy and then in the receipt of salvation, don’t be confused we don’t receive salvation as a reward, but as a gift from God.

Paul provides us with a further piece of helpful advice:
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Jesus commissioned us to increase the kingdom. But note when he gave this instruction to the disciples he did so as a group. He did not singularly call them one by one and say, John you do this, Phillip you do this. He said to them as a group go and make disciples of all men. You and I and all the congregation are called to go and make disciples of all men, not as individuals but as the body of Christ.

As a congregation God has given us resources, as the master gave his servants bags of Gold, and we must use these resources for the great commission.

We are all resourced and we must use our corporate resources for the work of God. Each of us within have been given gifts according to our abilities. The task must be to identify those gifts. But this is not a competition, we must encourage one another.

None of our resources, our skills, our talents should be locked up for some rainy day. Just as none of the assets which God has given this congregation should be locked up for a rainy day. All the assets must be used effectively and efficiently for the development of the Body of Christ.

We can manage our affairs in the mistaken believe that it is prudent to save for a rainy day. We must not waste resources, but they must be used diligently in the service of the kingdom. Over emphasising the need to save, over looks one of the basic tenants of the Church - God will provide. Our faith must be as strong as Abraham when he said:

God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

We too must go on together in the firm assurance that we have been given the resources to complete God’s work. We must identify our resources and encourage one another. Our reward will culminate in sharing God’s happiness in his kingdom.
  
Paul Beasley