The Amazing Privilege of Being Trusted

Steve Viars November 6, 2016 Matthew 25:14-30

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Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything; you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you; He wants you to increase it.

4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.

3 lessons from Jesus' teaching about stewardship

I. A Lesson from the One Writing the Book - Be Amazed that God Entrusts Imperfect People with Marvelous Truths and Responsibilities

A. An important principle of hermeneutics (Bible study) - who is the author?

B. Matthew was in a despised profession

Matthew 9:9 - As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.

Matthew 9:10 - Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, any tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.

C. This may explain Matthew's humility

D. This may explain Matthew's sense of urgency

The Olivet Discourse - Matthew 24-25

E. This may explain Matthew's focus on the cross

Matthew 26:1-2 - When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

II. A Lesson from the Person Making the Trust - Be Attuned to the Good Character of Our Sovereign Master

A. This parable is given to help each of us examine what God has entrusted to us

Matthew 25:15 - ...each according to his own ability…

Matthew 25:37-40 - Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” The King will answer and say to them, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

B. The way you respond to the trust reveals much about the true nature of your relationship with the master

Matthew 25:21 - 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.”

Matthew 25:21 - 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…

1 Thessalonians 2:4 - …but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

1 Timothy 1:11 - …according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Luke 16:11 - Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?

III. A Lesson from Those Being Trusted - Be Assured that the Position of "Slave of God" is a Delightful Place to Be

2 Timothy 1:14 - Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Outlined Manuscript

- when I was in high school, I was struggling as many people that age do with what I really believed, and what direction I wanted my life to take…

- my parents had moved our family from Gary out to Merrillville when I was in sixth grade so I had to make a new batch of friends and that was fine…

- but I was also attending church in Gary -- primarily because my mom made my sisters and I do that…

- what I saw as I progressed through those years was that there was a marked difference between my friends who didn't know the Lord and those who did…

- and I don't say that judgmentally…but as I look back I am amazed at the impact the way other Christian teenagers lived had on me…

- one group came from this small Christian school in Gary called Calumet Baptist School…

- if I showed you a picture of their building -- you would just shake your head because although they tried to keep it clean and neat -- it was a strong wind away from being condemned…

- by that time I was attending Merrillville High School -- which if you've ever noticed when driving north on I65 on your way to Chicago -- has incredible facilities…

- but these kids from the Christian school stood out…and I was often around them when their parents or other adults weren't…and they were the real thing…

- not because they sat around reading the Bible and praying every minute of the day--but because their Christianity affected the way they had fun…the way they treated one another…they were just the real thing…

- so much so that in the middle of my sophomore year…I asked my father if I could transfer mid-year to that little Christian school…

- his response was -- my tax dollars are already paying for a colossal school building in Merrillville you can attend for free (I won't go into his view of how those tax dollars were being spent) -- but why would I pay the additional $126 per month to send you to a Christian school…so if you want to do that, fine -- as long as you pay for it…

- it's a long story -- but the Lord provided a part time job a few weeks later and if you worked enough hours, you could save $126 per month.

- so I switched mid-year…and just fell in love with the school…the students…the staff and faculty…everything about it…

- including the fact that you could play any sport you wanted…

- so that spring I played on the baseball team and ran track…not that I was good at either one, but it was a blast being on the teams…

- well that fall of my junior year -- they didn't have football, so all my new friends were going to play on the soccer team…so I did too.

- as far as I know, I had never touched a soccer ball -- I knew nothing about the game -- but that didn't matter because I'd just practice with them and then when the games started, watch from the bench and figure things out…

- so we had the initial practices…went through the conditioning…started to do some of the drills and all of that…again just a lot of fun…

- then after the practice before our first game…the coach ended things a bit early…and huddled us up to talk about the game plan the next day…

- so he had this little portable white board set up like the field with the names of all the guys who were going to start in our first game…

- and like a lot of white boards -- the marker he had used wasn't very good…and I was sitting in the back anyway -- sort of half paying attention because I didn't really need to know much to sit on the bench…

- but as he was talking, I noticed that one of the names on the board started with a V…and so I'm squinting my eyes…but the rest of the writing kind-of trailed off…

- so I'm looking around at the other team members saying…who else on the team has a last name that starts with "V"…Stewart, no…Cooper, no…

- and then I thought -- no way -- is this like a joke…I've never seen a soccer game…I don't know any of the rules…this can't be…

- well -- it could be, and it was…the first soccer game I ever saw…was one in which I played…

- and all they explained to me was -- you're the right fullback…and if a player on the opposing team crosses the center line with the ball…stop him…that's all I knew…

- which is why by the time I got to college -- my nickname was Carcass Man…it's fair to say that finesse was never my strong suit…

- but here's the point -- that was almost 40 years ago -- and I can still remember the incredible impact it had on me that my coach and my fellow teammates were going to trust me with that position…

- and what I'd like to suggest to us this morning is -- that's part of the impact the concept of stewardship is intended to have on each and every one of us…

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible this am to Matthew chapter 25…page 21 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- as Pastor Green and Pastor Aucoin explained at their respective campuses last week, every November is Stewardship Month around here…so we take time as individuals and as a church family and consider all that God has entrusted to us and whether we have been faithful and growing in that trust…

- so we enjoy stewardship testimonies together…

- we have a series of Sunday morning messages on some aspect of the topic…which is practically inexhaustible in the Word of God…

- we print a stewardship commitment brochure and encourage all of us to make written commitments about the steps of growth we intend to take in the coming days…

- and then we get together the Sunday night before thanksgiving as a church family and we thank the Lord for what He's done in and through us in the previous year and we commit ourselves to greater stewardship in the coming days in and through His Spirit…

- all of this starts by knowing the Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything - you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given - he wants you to increase it.

4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.

- I would encourage you to determine as a family this month that if you haven't done so already, that you will memorize the principles together…that would be a good mealtime activity…[and if you're single, to do the same with a group of friends…]

- I would also encourage you to look for at least one opportunity every day to apply one or more of these principles to a real life situation…the goal here is not to be a hearer of the Word, but to be a doer…to look for ways to practically apply all of this for God's glory and your benefit…

- this year we've decided to simply work our way through the four principles…so last week Brent and Rob worked on how God owns everything and you own nothing…this morning we're talking about…

- The Amazing Privilege of Being Trusted

- read Matthew 25:14-30

- we're talking this morning about the marvelous privilege of being trusted…and with the time we have remaining, let's think about 3 lessons from Jesus' teaching about stewardship.

I. A Lesson from the One Writing the Book - Be Amazed that God Entrusts Imperfect People with Marvelous Truths and Responsibilities.

A. An important principle of hermeneutics (Bible study) - who is the author?

- I believe that not long after a person comes to know the Lord, you ought to learn some of the basic principles of Bible study, or hermeneutics…

- if you need help with that, your service pastor can give you direction and guidance…

- but the Bible isn't some mysterious book with hidden meanings that can only be unlocked by a select few…

- it is the Word of God given to every follower of Jesus Christ who also possesses the Holy Spirit who guides us as we study…

- but we use principles of interpretation like -- what do we know about the writer, humanly speaking?...

- well, in this case, think about Matthew recording a parable Jesus gave about servants being entrusted with something…how could Matthew not first and foremost think about how that was true of him?...

- so what do we know about Matthew?...when Jesus called him, was he living a godly life and working in an honorable profession?...

B. Matthew was in a despised profession.

- Matthew 9:9 - As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.

- now I realize that we read that and other than a snarky comment about the IRS (which we would never make because our own Rose King used to work for the IRS), it's hard for us to understand the context (which by the way is another principle of hermeneutics)…

- but tax collectors were hated by their fellow citizens, especially Jewish fellow citizens because they were considered traitors because Israel was under Roman dominion and the tax system was overbearing and corrupt…so when a Jewish man collected taxes on behalf of Rome…that's about as low on the totem pole of society as you could get…

- which is why, by the way…in the very next verse in Matthew 9 we read…Matthew 9:10 - Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, any tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.

- do you see the juxtaposition? -- tax collectors and sinners -- that was like repeating yourself…

- and yet now what?...God is using a man like this to humanly speaking, write one of the 4 gospels…

- and while I'm not suggesting that Matthew would have known at that moment that his book would be included in our Bible of 66 books…he was clearly being used to chronicle the life and ministry of Jesus Christ for the church as it was known at the time…

- and when you think about the life and occupation from which he came -- to clearly being a steward who was given a marvelous trust from the Lord -- it's amazing that God trusts people like that…people like us…

- he's not just writing about stewardship -- he's illustrating it -- he's a living example of the very truth in this text…

- the reason that's important is because -- if we're not careful -- stewardship can become very man-centered…we have to do this, this, this and this…

- it can become performance based -- legalistic -- and oppressive…

- but friends, if we're thinking correctly and biblically -- we'll always remember that stewardship from beginning to end is all about God's grace…

- we look up on the white board of God's game plan to accomplish his will on His earth -- and we faintly see our name…and we think -- no way…

- the God of heaven and earth would entrust me with some skill or resource or opportunity that could make an eternal difference in the accomplishment of His plan?...

- I get to play on that team…

- and our stewardship flows out of hearts that can hardly believe what we're hearing…

C. This may explain Matthew's humility.

- as you read this gospel, Matthew usually speaks of himself in the third person…

- there's no self-promotion…which is generally a sign of a person who can't get over the thrill of being included…

D. This may explain Matthew's sense of urgency.

- yet another principle of hermeneutics (apparently this is hermeneutics Sunday) is to look at the context -- the verses before and after…

- these verses are part of….

- The Olivet discourse - Matthew 24-25

- and if you just glance your eyes over the content of the chapter, you see that this is a discussion of the end times…and it's no accident that embedded in the conversation is the behavior of faithful stewards…

- that may be why the first two men took the five talents and the two talents they had been given respectively and began trading them immediately…

- when you are still in awe that God could and would use you…even in light of all your past failures and sins…you cannot wait to spread that good news far and wide…you can go from being a tax collector to someone God trusts with a position on the team…

E. This may explain Matthew's focus on the cross.

- see, what comes after the Olivet discourse?...

- Matthew 26:1-2 - When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

- is there any surprise there?...Matthew knew all too well the price that had to be paid on the cross of Calvary for his life to be transformed…for him to ever be in a position to faithful to any kind of trust…

- why does this matter?...because one of the many lies of the devil is that because you haven’t always done it just right -- there's no place for you on the team and there's no use in even trying out for the team…

- and that is such a man-centered, grace-less way to think about stewardship…

- picture it like this -- there will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 people hearing this message today at our 5 services…

- let's say we had a big pot -- and we could put all the composite failures of every person's past…or every person's present…or every person's future in the pot…

- for one thing -- how big would it have to be?...

- and another -- what would it smell like if you took a sniff while stirring it…

- and ultimately -- how much of the game plan would you entrust to us?...

- if that wouldn’t be a hot mess, I don't know what would be…

- if Matthew's life wasn't a hot mess, I don't know what would have been…

- friend -- God has entrusted you/us with all sorts of gifts, all sorts of resources, and all sorts of opportunities -- but not because any of us are inherently worthy of the trust…

- please don't allow your failures to keep you out of the game…

- [develop - the gospel]…

- now, we can also learn…

II. A Lesson from the Person Making the Trust - Be Attuned to the Good Character of Our Sovereign Master.

- one question we could ask of all of this is -- what was Matthew hoping his original readers would do with this story -- and how is it intended to impact us?...

- [or we could ask the same from the perspective of Jesus since He originally gave the parable]…

- but what was the intent?...certainly not to memorize the details of the story and file it away with other tales you've heard…

A. This parable is given to help each of us examine what God has entrusted to us.

- I hope already this morning that you've been doing that…

- if God entrusts you with everything you have, then what falls on the "you've been entrusted with that" list for you…

- in fact, here's a little homework assignment…

- I would encourage you to take some time and turn off the games and the election results and all of that…and meditate on these truths…

- do you know what meditate means?...

- and this next thought make some break out in a cold sweat…turn off all your electronic devices…and actually get at least 10 feet away from all of them…

- and then seek to make a list of at least 50 things God has entrusted to you…

- maybe you're a 2 talent person, maybe you're a 5…that's not really the point…because the text is clear…

- Matthew 25:15 - "each according to his own ability"…

- but what has God entrusted to you?...

- now you might say -- there's no way I could get to 50…I think you could get there pretty quickly…but let me try to prime the pump…here are a few categories…

- you could start with what God has entrusted to you as a person…

- like -- God has made me in his image -- therefore I have opportunities to reflect Him each and every day -- that's a trust I've been given…

- God has given me a heart -- a part of me that no one else knows -- and I can fill it with truth and worship and adoration for Christ -- God trusted me to direct my heart well…

- God has given me a mind -- and I can choose to think thoughts that are true and lovely and honoring to Him…

- God has given me a tongue -- in a country where there is freedom of speech -- I can say anything to anyone at anytime -- God has trusted me with that…

- it wouldn’t be long before you could have dozens of statements like that about what God has entrusted to you as an individual made in His image…

- then you could move to the people around you…

- your parents if they are still living -- God entrusted those persons to you…

- if you're married -- obviously your spouse -- and before you say -- but he's imperfect -- don't forget -- God trusted you with that too…

- your children…or your inability to have children…

- your neighbors…

- your co-workers…

- the clerk at the grocery store…every one of those relationships is part of a trust…

- then you could start think about your gifts and abilities…

- your organizational skills…

- your musical talent…

- your gift of mercy…

- your ability to teach…

- your love of children…

- then the opportunities all around you…

- it's interesting by the way that this parable is followed by the sheep and goat judgment, which contains the famous verses…

- Matthew 25:37-40 - Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

- every one of those opportunities is a trust…but here's a crucial point…

B. The way you respond to the trust reveals much about the true nature of your relationship with the master.

- we're going to talk more about this passage in subsequent weeks because there is so much here…but I'd like us to see this morning the significant contrast between the way the first two servants related to the master and the way the third did…

- and you could say -- well, the reason the first two took what they had been given and immediately started trading with them [and again, we'll discuss those words on another Sunday] - but you could say that they did that out of a sense of cowering fear…

- you know, there's no indication of that in the text…in fact, it's the opposite…the most information we have about the entire interaction is the way the master spoke to them at the end…Matthew 25:21 - 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.’

- how would you summarize that relationship?...intimate, healthy, appreciative, loving, respectful -- on both parts…

- but what about the third slave?... Matthew 25:21 - 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

- what's wrong with that?

- it certainly doesn't match the facts…he had given each of these servants a trust…he didn't have to do that…

- his interaction with the other two doesn't have a hint of that…

- but to show how illogical the third servant's position was - he said, even if that was the case, you should have at least put what you had been given in the bank and earned some interest…

- the principle is -- people who have a wrong view of the master will never be motivated to practice faithful stewardship from an amazed and thankful heart…

- that's why it's so delightful to see evidence of faithful stewardship in so many directions around here because of men and women who have a right view of our God…and therefore view each and every trust as a gift from His sovereign hand…

- for example, we have some people who have cared for their aging parents who have slipped into eternity this year…

- we've had some people do that for their spouses…

- and the faithful stewardship -- even when it was hard and heartbreaking -- flowed out of heart that truly believes our sovereign master is good…and He won't give us more than we can bear…and often it's in the midst of suffering that He can be especially glorified…

- here's another example -- the passion with which men and women in our congregation live and share the gospel…

- you know, often when you read the word entrust in the Bible -- it has to do with us being entrusted with good news of Jesus Christ…

- 1 Thessalonians 2:4 - but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.

- 1 Timothy 1:11 - according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

- [-- insert 2 pics of the HH]…

- I'm happy to tell you that last week, 2 young people accepted Christ as Savior and Lord at the HH…Joey Wright told me the story like this…Levi Starrett and his fiancé (Courtney Wall) come every week to Bible Study on Tuesday nights at the Hub, and they also lead the volunteers on Friday nights. This past Tuesday night, Levi and I were leading the kids memorize Acts 4:12. In the middle of explaining how Jesus is the only name in which we can be saved and how that was the case, a 6 year old boy raised his hand and said, “I wanna do that right now!” Bible study ended a few minutes later, and both he and a 12 year old girl-who has been coming to church with us every week for a couple months  wanted to accept Christ. I sent them with Levi, and they talked through the commitment. Levi then had the opportunity to lead them both to Christ.

 

- I love that story for about a zillion reasons but let me mention a couple for sake of time…

1. Think of all the teens and young adults and all their leaders who were going down to the north end week after week after week having block parties and building relationships…and if you had asked any of them why they were going -- what would they have said?...

- something along the lines of -- I'm amazed God has allowed a person like me to be on the team and he's entrusted me with this opportunity and I'm thankful He's given it to me…

2. Think about all the people who gave sacrificially to make the HH a reality…

- which often is a first rung on the stewardship ladder?...how so?

- Luke 16:11 - Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?

- but as you think back to the way those funds were raised?...was it through threats and fear and law and duty?...no, people gave because they love a God who has entrusted them with resources to spend and a gospel to proclaim…

3. Think about all the great work Joey and Stefan have been doing…

4. I think what I love about it the most was that the Lord used Levi and Courtney -- a young engaged couple -- Levi who's a software engineer and Cortney who is a sociology major at Purdue

- what in the world are they doing down at the HH?...and why?...

- see, that's stewardship…amazed that God trusts imperfect people and attuned to the gracious character of our God…

- [if time -- could also talk about Trunk or Treats Monday]

- there's one more…

III. A Lesson from Those Being Trusted - Be Assured that the Position of "Slave of God" is a Delightful Place to Be.

- I understand that the image of slavery has powerful implications because everything that has occurred in our culture and others…

- can you stand hearing me say "hermeneutics" one more time this am?...

- in Bible times -- slavery was common and a person could even be a physician or a highly skilled craftsman and still be a slave…

- but even with that in mind…we dare not miss the fact that this passage puts us in our place, and rightly so…

- but here's the corollary…it's far better to be a slave for the right master than a CEO for the wrong one…

- and that's true for all sorts of reasons…but here's one of them…when you joyfully accept the position of "slave of God" -- you have the possibility of the Holy Spirit directing and empowering each of your stewardship choices…

- 2 Timothy 1:14 - Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

- it's amazing how much can be accomplished when you look at the white board of God's game plan…see where your name is on the field…marvel at how God even chose you in the first place…and then look at everything with which you've been entrusted…and then get busy letting the HS help you play your position well…

- [- please insert the 4 Mexico pics from my FB page]…

- develop -- as time allows, what is happening in Mexico

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video