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Learning To Be Faithful Matthew 25:14-30 by Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery

Learning To Be Faithful
Matthew 25:14-30
by
Dr. Richard Lee Montgomery
     
Text: 14"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15"To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16"Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17"In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18"But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. 19"Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20"The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' 21"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' 22"Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' 23"His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.' 24"And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25'And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' 26"But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 27'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 28'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' 29"For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30"Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus Christ calls for faithfulness as we daily prepare for the day of His return. Just as the disposition of readiness must mark His disciples for His eventual return, faithfulness in whatever He has entrusted to us, must mark our actions until He comes. Faithfulness is not just for the difficult times when believers face persecution. Christ calls for faithfulness in the little things, doing all that He has entrusted to us, to glorify Him. With that said does faithfulness mark you as a genuine believer?

A. Everything Belongs To The Lord.

Like the Parable of the Ten Virgins of last time, this parable teaches us about kingdom life as we prepare for the return of our Lord. Last time we became familiar with John Charles (J. C.) Ryle, a man who became renowned – for his powerful preaching in England says this of these two parables, "Vigilance is the keynote of the first parable, diligence that of the second." 1   

And that, is an appropriate description of faithfulness – diligence. Ryle goes on to broaden this understanding of “diligence” by saying, "a solemn determination by God's grace, never to be content with a profession of Christianity without practice." 2 There are two things concerning the relationship between the Master and His slave.

First – the Master entrusts. Verse 14 says,"For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them." This emphasizes possessions belonged to the master. The Master is the owner and the slaves were stewards or managers of whatever the master entrusted.

The Psalmist declares, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it" (Psalms 24:1). This all-inclusive statement places everything within the pall of divine ownership and sovereign rule. Now, putting things in perspective with emphasize – everything belongs to the Lord yet He is pleased to entrust the stewardship of responsibility for lesser creatures and the world about us – to man. God is the owner – we are the managers entrusted with particular responsibilities.

Second – the Master personalizes. Verse 15 says, "To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey." This master was no egalitarian who divided everything equally. Instead the master measured the ability of each particular slave and entrusted him with a portion suitable to his own abilities. The master knew how much each could handle and gave expectations based on each one's personal abilities. The "talents" that he gave are not individual abilities for music or athletics or poetry. Instead, the term was used as a measurement of weight in the ancient world and also as a type of coinage. In the case of the parable, the slaves were entrusted with silver or gold in sizeable amounts but as we apply this story, we properly see it as inclusive of all that Christ entrusts to us. Listen to J. C. Ryle once again, “Anything whereby we may glorify God is a talent, Our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ's Church, our advantages as possessors of the Bible,—all, all are talents.” 3

Here we find the sovereign design of the Lord who entrusts each of us with various resources, abilities, and gifts so that we might use – all to His glory. All of God’s redeemed are therefore responsible to make the most of whatever the Lord has entrusted to us, as wise stewards.

We notice that of the three servants, different measures of "talents" were entrusted to them, "each according to his own ability." Point is, the Lord does not entrust you with what he entrusts me and vice versa. Nor does He require an accounting from me for the way you discharge what has been entrusted to you but He will require that from you. Are you doing with what God has given to you?

B. Everyone Is Accountable To The Lord.

So, the master "went on his journey" and "after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them." Again, Jesus gives some implication to His disciples that His return would not be immediate. Important here while He delays we are to be diligent with those things entrusted to us. Three things here.

First – there is to be diligence in your sphere. In this parable Jesus emphasizes how two servants  went into immediate action. Look at verses 16-17, "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents had gained two more." Here we see the picture of faithfulness. These two servants immediately went into action to put what the master had entrusted to them into use. There was no procrastination in mind or delaying until it appeared to be a convenient time. Faithfulness moves into action, loyally seeking to honor the Lord with whatever one has and with whatever one can do. Diligence in your sphere means that you do not need to compare yourself to your brother on the right or the left to see what they are doing and how they are serving. Whether you have "five talents" or "two talents" or "one talent," you are to serve Christ by His grace with all of the energy and strength and ability you have. The Master knows precisely what to entrust to each of us. He will change that according to His good purposes. Meanwhile, be content with faithfulness in what has been entrusted to you.

In verse 21-23 both of the faithful servants found great joy in diligent service to the master. We cannot miss this because it demonstrates the heart of one that knows Christ. The believer finds deep satisfaction and delight in pleasing the Lord. To hear the words, 'Well done, good and faithful slave'  amounts to far more worth in the Christian's ears than all of the accolades of the world.

Second – faithfulness is praised. Here the master responds to the two slaves who have faithfully labored with what was entrusted to them. It says in verse 23, "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." With great emphasis, this is the attitude this is the practice that must carry us along while we wait to stand before our Lord – faithfulness. Notice that even though one of the slaves netted three talents more in his gain than the other there was no difference in the master's response. To both he declared, "Well done, good and faithful slave." We are exhorted to be faithful with what the Lord has given each one of us. Whatever gifts, whatever abilities, resources, talents, strengths, time and mind He has given to you – exhaust it all for the glory of your Lord.

Third – there is divine delight. Notice how the master's delight is expressed by rewarding more responsibility: "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." The master did not call for a retirement party for the two faithful slaves. Instead to the great delight of these slaves the master entrusted more responsibility to them for His honor and glory. The great satisfaction was not in basking in honor but in continuing to serve the one whom they loved with tireless devotion. That’s the picture before us. The reward of faithfulness is that the Lord entrusts us with more of that which belongs to Him and which we are to use for His glory.

C. Every Judgment Will Be Just.

The day of reckoning comes when Christ returns. Look at verse 19 again, "Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them." Three things.

First – heart attitudes. As the third slave gave his accounting he immediately exposed the attitude of his heart. That is what judgment does – nothing is hidden that we've kept hidden through life. Look at verses 24-25, "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours." This slave immediately begins to find fault with his master and place the blame on him, "it's not my fault that I did nothing with what you entrusted to me! It's your fault. It's because you are a stern man and because you expect others to work for your gain. I took no chances on losing your talent. You can have it back – it's yours." Is that the way it works? I mean  – a slave telling his master that he had no right to make demands of him or to profit from his labor. This slave had no scruples about blaming his master for his own failure. Now – this is what needs to be said, the one who gives no risks for the sake of the master dare not claim love for him or loyalty to him. 

Second – divine assessment. Could it be that the slave was just having a bad day? I mean – could there have been just a little misunderstanding? Not in the mind of the master who assessed his slave in verses 26-27, "You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest." The slave's character is described as "wicked" – meaning base, worthless, inherently evil, and degenerated. It showed up by his placing blame on the master. His disposition is called "lazy" – one who shrinks from responsibility or work or demands one who has no ambition to pursue excellence and fulfill his responsibilities. At the very minimum, this slave could have at least put the master's money to work in the bank. Even minimal faithfulness would find commendation from the master. But no faithfulness calls for complete loss. Look at verse 28 and verse 30, 28'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.'... 30"Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

We must realize that substance goes along with truly being Christian. His saving work in us affects the whole disposition of our lives. He affects the way we live and what we live for. Unfaithfulness – that spirit that will give nothing for Christ and will risk nothing for the sake of His name is not prepared to meet the Lord and King.

Third – the principle of faithfulness. We need to understand – foundational to the Christian life is that Christ operates on the principle of faithfulness. Christ is faithful even when we falter and fail. So He calls for faithfulness in us promising that faithfulness meets with His pleasure. Again, this is all about Him – not us. If this disposition is absent in your life – well – just know everything that you think is gain for you personally will be eternally lost. But if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you cannot live that way. His faithful life in you motivates you to higher pursuits for His glory. Hold back nothing. With all that He has entrusted to you magnify His name with faithful service.

Endnotes:

1  J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts On The Gospels: Matthew (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), 337.

2  Ibid., 339-340. 

3  Ibid., 336-337.

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