"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!'"
This parable demonstrates that we are God's stewards on earth. Webster defnes the word "steward" as someone who is employed to manage another's property, especially a large house or estate. We are God's stewards, but what exactly does God the Master expect of us? On the face, this story is about money, and as the Swiftney family, we are obligated to address the financial implications. :)
The term talent referred at one time to a unit of coinage, worth more than a thousand dollars. We know that God expects us to earn money honestly doing work He provides for us, to return our tithes and offerings to Him, and to invest our money with wisdom. If we do, our money should grow and produce a return on investment. The first two servants both doubled their talents, earning a whopping one hundred percent ROI! In contrast, the third servant buried his talent in fear of loss. In doing so, he maintained the original amount, but faced the cost of lost opportunity.
The master points out the steward's flawed motivation and reasoning: "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." If we bury money in our yards today, opportunity cost, inflation and currency valuation will make it LESS valuable when we decide to dig it up! Clearly, we need to practice good financial stewardship in order to grow and use our money for God's kingdom.
But we are called to far more as stewards of God's property. His property includes not only all of creation, it includes us! Jesus, in obedience to his Master, invested his entire fortune in our salvation, as Acts 20:28 tells us: "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." God finds each of us infinitely valuable: "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Luke 12:7) Because of His great love, God has chosen to deposit treasures and spiritual gifts into us, and expects us to be fruitful as good stewards of our souls and of His church.
Steve, Gavin, Madelyn and I have grown with the family of NHRC for nearly ten years now. We have done our best, in prayerful seeking, to invest the spirit's gifts well. In times of trouble, others have been gracious investors in us and helped us to grow through God's invaluable instruction. We have been tempted to bury the wealth entrusted to us, and had to face opportunity cost. We know even the best portfolios must be well-balanced, and we have found the best way to balance the demands of work, family and kingdom are to listen for the voice of the Master.
The third servant buried his talent because he questioned his master's methods and was afraid, despite having the least to risk. As God's stewards, do we seek to use our spiritual gifts, or do we hide them away in fear of disappointment or pain? Are we earning the dividends of bearing fruitful witness, or are we stuck in a state of comfortable atrophy? When our Master Jesus Christ returns to settle accounts, what will we have to demonstrate our faith in His promise that "for everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance." What treasure is sitting in hidden decay, and how much opportunity cost have we racked up? How much will God in His sovereignty leave in our care, based on our ability to trust in Him?
Our church family is living in a time when opportunity abounds, especially when we consider the Reach Out vision. Our prayer is that God will equip us to be good stewards of His church, that He builds our faith, and that our reach might extend as we invite more souls to join the family. However He chooses to reveal Himself, whatever form our building and space takes, our amazing God is faithful! He expects us to invest commitment, effort, and patience, for even the master in the parable returned only "after a long time." But we can approach God with confidence that He will produce an abundant return on investment.
- Steve and Monica Swiftney
The gifts God has entrusted to us are not just financial. What other gifts has God given you?
Take a moment to wonder how you might use those gifts in God's service. If you're artistic, make a card to send to someone you love. If you bake, make a pie for a friend.
God our Master, thank you for giving us good gifts. Show us how we might invest them in the good work of your Kingdom. For your honor and glory, Amen.
In your journal or a blank sheet of paper, draw or write your thoughts.