The Potential Principle

November 24, 2007 John 14:21

Today’s Lesson

  • We have just finished stewardship month.
  • We have been challenged week by week to invest our time, talents and treasure in ways that further God’s kingdom.
  • This week in our ABF lesson we are going to challenge our students to be obedient to God’s call to faithfulness.
  • We will ask each student if they are being obedient to
  • First you will establish that our love for God is demonstrated through obedience.
  • John 14:21 clearly instructs us that this is true.
  • You can’t say you love God and be disobeying His clear teaching in the Word.
  • To see if you truly love God all you need to do is look at yourself, examine you past week / year of life. If you see habitual obedience in your life then you “scream out” that you do love God.
  • However, if you life is marked by habitual disobedience the Word says you don’t love God.

The Potential Principle

Matthew 25:21 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'shappiness !

Today we will look at what obedience means to the Christian the benefits of obedience, and the heartache of disobedience. We as Christians have the responsibility to be found faithful where God has placed us and for responding to Him in a positive way. How does God measure us? To see how God operates we will look at the “Potential Principle.” This stimulating study will set you free to see that God can use you just as He’s made you!

  • Key Principle: Obedience is Love
  • The key here is not whether I ever sin, we all do. When we do we confess it before the Lord and repent.
  • The key is habitual patterns of sin, no confession and a commitment to living in ways that are not in keeping with the scripture.
  • This kind of life style is not in keeping with a truly born again person.
  • Ask you students “Do you love God?” If you do then you life will be marked by obedience and you will be growing more and more towards Christlikeness

What is Obedience?

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

______Obedience__________ is _________Love_____________

  • Some of the benefits and losses of obedience are listed in the Duty, Benefits and Blessing of Obedience.
  • You can expand and develop these points as you feel necessary.
  • I personally will pass over them rather quickly.

The Dutyof Obedience:

Deuteronomy 26:16 This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all you heart and with all you soul.

The Blessings of Obedience:

Proverbs 16:7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

The Penalty of Disobedience:

I Samuel 12:15 But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.


  • I love this point.
  • It helps everyone understand that no matter what kind of talents, abilities and gifts one may have, whether well endowed or minimally equipped, God expects us to be faithful with what we have.
  • It is God who makes us and endows us with talents, abilities and gifts.
  • Physically: God puts us together in our mother’s womb. See Ps139.13-16.
  • You should develop this point: How God choose your nose, He knit together you IQ, your athletic prowess, your genetics ETC. God was intimately involved in forming you, He gave you what you got.
  • Spiritually:
  • See 1Pet. 4.10 Each of us receives a spiritual gift
  • Of Gods choosing: 1Cor12.11
  • Once again God gives you what you got!
  • Now because it is God who makes you it would be unfair for Him to judge your regarding your potential.
  • The world judges you via your potential. For example:
  • Put up or shut up
  • The best 11 will play in today’s game.
  • When applying for the new job only the most productive will make the team
  • ETC
  • God however would be unfair to judge us based on our potential seeing He is the one who gave us our potential, both physically and spiritually.
  • So how does He judge us?
  • By our Faithfulness. That is how faithful we are with what God has given us.
  1. God does not judge your potentialbut what you do withyour potential.
  2. Let’s illustrate:
  3. God does not judge your potential but what you do with your potential.
  4. Let’s assume Mr. Potential has got it all. On a relative scale he has a potential of 100.
  5. Mr. Potential stands in contrast to Joe Average, he has a potential of 75 on our scale
  6. Both Mr. Potential and Joe Average have been given there physical endowments and spiritual gifts from God.
  7. Mr. Potential knows he is better than most, he can put a minimal effort into life and still be “better” or more productive than most. Let’s say he works at level or 80 on our scale.
  8. Mr. Average is committed to being the best he can be before God. He works hard, even though he only has a potential of 75 he works at a level of 70.
  9. Mr. Potential breezes through life at a level of 80 while Joe Average works diligently, yet only at a level of 70.
  10. Mr. Potential is far more productive Joe Average ( 80 versus 70)
  11. In the worlds eyes it wouldn’t matter how you did it, the only thing that matters is your production.
  12. But God’s economy is different
  13. He does not look at production but faithfulness (we will see this in Mt 25)
  14. Mr. Potential is working at 80% of his potential.
  15. Joe Average is working at 93.3% of his potential.
  16. Even though Mr. Potential is “out producing” Joe Average he is NOT being as faithful with what has been entrusted to him.
  17. The key question is
  18. How faithful are you being?
  19. Remember the Key Stewardship Principles
  20. 2nd factor of stewardship: God Entrusts Me with Everything I Have.
  21. 3rd factor of stewardship: I Am Responsible to Increase What God Has Given to Me. I May Increase It or Diminish It.
  22. 4th factor of stewardship: I God can call me into Account any time
  23. If God were to call you into account today, how faithful would he find you?
  24. STOP and have you class answer this question right now, silently, in their mind.
  25. Ask couples to make a point of discussing this question this week.
  26. A day is coming when you will be called to answer before God even if it is not today.
  27. ARE YOU FAITHFUL do you love God .

II. A grasp of the potential principle allows you to realize

  1. God can use me
  2. Now I don't have to live up to anyone's expectations. I only have to be faithful with what God has given me.

THE Parable of the Talents

Read Matthew 25:14 - 30

The purpose or this parable (according to Ryrie) is to contrast between those who make use of God’s gifts and those who do not.

I am going to give you:

  1. The major goals of what we are hoping to emphasize.
  2. A few personal keys to the parable
  3. MacArthur’s commentary on these verses for your personal study and implementation as time permits. This is a lot of information, more than you need but you will benefit greatly from it. I suggest at least reading JM. This will be attached as a separate file.
  4. Major goals.
  5. God gives each person a stewardship according to “his own ability”. V15
  6. God rewards based on faithfulness, not production. See the reward for the man entrusted with 5 talents in v 21. Now compare the reward of the man entrusted with 2 talents in v23.
  7. The reward is word for word the same based on equal faithfulness.
  8. You will give an account. Your obedience to the command and expectation of being a faithful steward is an indicator of your love of God.
  9. Remember John 14.21
  10. Boldly encourage your students to live in such a way to hear one day “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.

Verses 14 & 15: Introduction of key people and elements of the parable

  1. Remember the key of a parable: It is a figure of speech in which a moral or spiritual truth is illustrated by analogy drawn from everyday experiences.
  1. The man = God
  2. Slaves = Followers of God.
  3. The meaning of slave: is one who gives himself up to another’s will. Devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interest.
  4. Possessions = 1st factor of stewardship: God owns everything I own nothing
  5. Talents = What each believer is entrusted with (time, talents, gifts, abilities and treasure)
  6. Ability = The power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature.Remember Ps139.14 and 1Cor. 12.11. God gives you everything.

Verses 16 & 17: Faithful stewards investing; unfaithful stewards squandering

Verses 16-20: Faithful stewards investing; unfaithful stewards squandering

  1. Look at Matt 3.8 and John 15.1-8.
  2. Unfaithful stewards squander opportunities.
    1. What does a squandered opportunity look like?

Verses 20 – 23: Rewards to faithful stewards

Verses 20 – 23: Rewards to faithful stewards

  1. Verses 20 – 21 describe the slave entrusted with 5 talents
  2. Verses 22 – 22 describe the slave entrusted with 2 talents.
  3. Both slaves were equally faithful, doubling their stewardship v 20 & 22
  4. The rewards given to each slave were word for word exactly the same. V 21 & 23.
  5. The Man’s (God’s) reward was not based on the amount of return but the percentage (faithfulness) of the return

Verses 19 - 25 Punishment of the Unfaithful servant

Verses 19 - 25 Punishment of the Unfaithful servant

  1. Minimize this section for time’s sake
  2. Emphasize true and faithful servants produce fruit. Mt3.8

The great tenet here is that you will have to stand in the presence of God and give an account of how we have used what He has given to us. The Lord is not going to ask how much we have done or Him but how faithful we have been to that which He wanted us to do.

Benefits of Obeying

Romans 8:29 ....For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.....

Romans 12:2 ....Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is --his good, pleasing and perfect will.


The way you walk the Christian walk is your choice. Will you walk obediently or to your own drummer? The potential principle frees you to be you. No longer do you to be like anyone else, you must be faithful with your potential. You are responsible to Christ our master to be a good and faithful steward of what God has entrusted you with.

What areas of your life are you responsible for?

Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it.

Respond in a Christ-like manner.