Thursday, February 9, 2012

Money Can't Buy Everything - Part 3

Just some questions or thoughts about one more statement made during the message.

Around the 13:20 mark, referring to the parable of the talents, he says, "And the moral of that parable is to make the most of what you have and you will be rewarded for it."

Read the parable here. Please read from verse 14 all the way to verse 46 to get the full message.

Now, I suppose one way to read this parable is to look for a moral lesson. Some "thing" that I can do to make me a better person. And there are many people who believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher. But I don't believe that Jesus came to give us moral lessons about being better people. He came to transform us, from the sinners we are to lovers of God we should be. He came to reveal God's presence and glory to us. So in this story, we have two men who respected and obeyed their master. One received five talents and the other two. These two men took their talents and honored their master with them. He gave them a task and they performed it to the best of their ability. And they were successful. But the third man, who only received one talent, did not honor his master. All he thought of was himself. He thought about how his master was cruel, how he would not benefit from his own labors, maybe he was even jealous that he had not been given more responsibility, so he took the talent and buried it. It sounds as if he hated his master!

It is in verses 31-46 where I believe we find the application to this parable. Jesus tells us that on judgement day, the sheep will be separated from the goats. The sheep are those who feed Christ, who give Him drink, who go out of their way to care for Him. And all the while, they don't even look at it as serving Him!


Because it is a natural part of who they are! They love and respect their master and their lives have been changed. They are not trying to live up to a moral code, but are responding to Christ without thinking about what they are doing. So when He says "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me," they respond by saying, when did we do this for you? They were not trying to earn his favor or live better and more moral lives, they were just living a life that reflected the love of their master, a most natural thing for them to do!

But the goats, they hate the master. Not outwardly. Outwardly I believe even they think they love Him. Outwardly they do what they believe is right things for right reasons. Outwardly, they are very clean dishes and whitewashed tombs. Yet they too did not even realize what their actions revealed. But their selfish burying of their resources, their refusal to reach outside themselves, their inward focus blinded them not only to how they should live, but how they should love. Look at the third man's response. "Here is the talent you gave me." Perhaps he is saying, "Look, this is all that you should expect from me, just what you gave me and nothing more. Take this, it is yours. Now give me what is mine." But that is a very sad and inappropriate response.

Look at it this way. Say my wife is going to be gone on a Saturday, laundry day. She asks me if I can help her out. I say yes. So after she leaves I put a load of laundry in the washer and turn it on. There, I have helped her out. And that was tough, because I hate doing laundry. Or, do I wash, dry, fold and put away the laundry, do the dishes, tidy things around the house, get dinner ready, and even get the lawn mowed and the driveway swept. Both choices reveal my heart. Which response do you think is going to get her to say, "Well done?" Sure, I could justify the first response, because I have my "man" things to do. But when love rules, there is a strange joy that is found, even in doing the laundry. (Please note: It is not the deeds that matter, but the heart behind the deeds. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command," not "If you obey what I command, you love me." Both may look the same, but the difference is huge.)

So in a sense, yes, this parable reveals a message that says, "Make the most of what you have and you will be rewarded." But that is so simplistic and misses teaching the point. The real message here is one of a deep and abiding trust and love for the Master, living a life that honors Him and lives according to the law without the weight of the law crushing us. And I am afraid that a life that does not honor God is this manner, a life that does not see Him as beautiful and wonderful, is a life that just might be damned.

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