29 November 2018

Good morning and welcome to Thursday. My name is Alan and I am really enjoying looking at some of Jesus’ parables with you this week.

REFLECTION:

Today’s reading is Matthew 25:14-30 ‘the parable of the talents’… or as the latest NIV translation says ‘the parable of the bags of gold.’ The story starts like this, v14-15:

Again, it [the kingdom of God] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

The first two servants invest the money and earn the same amount as they had been given. However, the third servant who was given 1 bag of gold was afraid, so he hid his gold in a hole in the ground.

When the master returned the first 2 servants were commended for being good and faithful but the third, the fearful, and as it says, ‘worthless servant’ was scolded and thrown outside and the bag of gold that he had was taken from him and given to the first servant.

Jesus is telling this story to teach us something about the coming kingdom of God. Like all of this week’s podcast, it is about the moment when Jesus will return and make all things new. On Monday we looked at keeping our hearts from growing cold by exercising forgiveness; On Tuesday we looked at the story of the wise and wicked servants, teaching us to do what we have been instructed to do by God even when no one is looking; Yesterday we read about the ten virgins, learning about taking personal responsibility: so what about today and the parable of the bags of gold?

Well I think today’s reading is quite straight forward. Like the servants, all Christians have been entrusted with something precious by God. This may be riches and wealth but we know that Jesus also teaches about the foolishness of accumulating wealth that we can’t take with us into eternity. Instead Jesus is talking about each person’s gifts and talents that have been given ‘according to our ability’ (v15).

Now, do you ever look at those around you and think ‘if only I was more like them I would be much better at doing life?’ I know I do.

I am incredibly thankful to be married to Helen. Helen is awesome, she is one of the most capable people that I know. She is organised and disciplined, she works hard and gets a huge amount accomplished each day. She is able to hold a long list in her head of all she needs to do each day. Once when feeling a little overwhelmed, she sat down and committed the list in her head to paper – and filled two sides of A4 paper.

Experience has taught me that I can hold a list of – not 100 things – but… 3! My memory can hold three things that I need to do at any one time. If I try to put more in, other things fall out to make space.

It’s as if in this area she has been given an abundance of riches, 5 bags of gold, and I have been given only 1…

Maybe you look around and you see people who are great at hospitality, great listeners, fantastic at organising people, who have an awesome knowledge of the Bible, who have loads of friends, who are tall or thin, or rich, or educated, or married or single or… the list goes on and on.

One of God’s big ten: the ten commandments says that we shouldn’t covet… we shouldn’t look at what other people have or haven’t got and be jealous… it doesn’t get us anywhere, it only makes us feel weak and lacking. Instead we are to be thankful, to be content… and… to make best use of what we have been given.

The story of the bags of gold teaches us that we have each been given gifts according to our ability. We have exactly what God in his wisdom has decided to give us. It’s not something to worry about or boast about… simply be thankful.

This is the best launch pad for us to do what God is asking us to do: to make the best of what we have been given.

For example, the Bible teaches us to practice hospitality… now if you have a big house – invite lots of people round. But if you have a tiny house, invite 1 person round. The number is not important… making use of what God has give us is!

Today let us take stock of all that God has given us. Let us be thankful, let gratitude well up in us and no matter how much or how little we think we have been given, let us put them to work for God and his wonderful kingdom.

PRAYER:

Father, thank you that you have given us so much. Help us to take our eyes off of other people’s gifts and treasures and be content with what we have. Father show us the gifts that you have give us that we are keeping hidden away and help us to serve you and others with the gifts you have given us. Amen.

READING: Matthew 25:14-30

‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

‘After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.”

‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

‘The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold: see, I have gained two more.”

‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

‘Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

‘His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

‘“So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”