“Trusted” serves as a compelling theme for our church’s stewardship campaign this year! It leaves you wondering who is trusting whom. Are we trusting God in our investment of His resources or does God trust us with His resources? Well, like in many similar dilemmas, it is not either/or but both/and.
Stewardship always involves us in cultivating our faith in God, but I would like to address the theme of God trusting us with His resources. Jesus, in His parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, instructs us on this theme. The Master leaves on a journey and leaves His talents in the care of His trusted servants.
With what are we entrusted? We are entrusted with talents each according to our ability. In Biblical times, a talent was about twenty years’ wages for an average laborer. In our time, a ‘talent’ has a metaphorical meaning and refers to the God-given gifts, abilities, opportunities, and resources for which we are responsible to invest wisely. A talent is anything you have been given by which you may glorify God. Our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ’s Church, and our advantages as possessors of the Bible. All of these are talents.
We are entrusted with the Master’s resources according to our ability. This should curb our tendency to compare ourselves with others. Also, it reminds us that we own nothing in our lives. Let me ask you: Are you living in such a way that proves that you believe that you are a steward and not an owner of all you possess?
What are those causes that the Master values in which we must invest? God wants us to spend his money in causes that delight him so that we multiply the things He finds valuable (Matt. 25: 21,23). What are those? Caring for the poor, the immigrant, the sick and prisoner (Matt. 25:35-36); individuals with material needs (Galatians 6:10); caring for your family, aging parents and children (1 Timothy 5:8, Matt. 15:1-9), and the worship, witness, and nurture of God’s people (giving to build places of worship, to support God’s work and missionary enterprise (1 Chronicles 29, Exodus 35-36; Matt.5:24a; Acts 4:32; I Corinthians 16:2). When we use our resources for people’s lives and God’s glory, we buy the only things that actually last forever.
According to this passage, what is the key for living as trusted stewards? Knowing truly and rightly assessing the character of our heavenly Master. He is generous beyond compare in entrusting his resources to us. He has sown His life in us and has scattered His riches to us. He is a good, generous and patient Lord. He asks of us two things: Faith in Him and investment according to our gifts. The third servant failed in this: “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid” (vv. 24, 25). The sense is obvious: “I knew you were one whom it was impossible to serve, one whom nothing would please.” How easy it is to think of God as too demanding and virtually throw on Him the blame of our fruitlessness.
What hinders us from living as trusted stewards? The third steward reminds us that investing God’s resources can be a frightening enterprise. Our doubting and sinful hearts cause us to view our Lord as demanding, harsh, stern, and one who exacts more than he has a right to exact. Do you struggle with a similar view of God? Where are you right now opting for safety rather than risk in serving Him? Where are you burying the Master’s resources in the ground? Ask the Lord to renew your courage to step out and take a risk in serving as His steward.
What motivation is given us so that we live as trusted stewards? We have a generous and good heavenly Master who longs for us to share and experience His joy. Think about what will surely be the most exhilarating moment of your life. To enter into the Kingdom that Jesus has prepared for you from the foundation of the world and to experience His unending joy and to hear your heavenly Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master!” (Verses 21, 23) There is NO GREATER THING!
So, what is the Lord calling you to do? No doubt our Lord has various callings for all of us, but let me give you three broad categories to consider: As His trusted steward, seek a place of active service in your church. Secondly, give sacrificially to God’s work realizing that He calls us to give generously, proportionally, and sacrificially. Thirdly, endeavor by prayer and proclamation to lead others to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Until Christ returns, we are His trusted stewards who possess His talents to invest them in causes that He values to further His fame and glory in the world. May the Lord renew our resolve to heed the counsel of William James: “The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”