The Joy of Increasing

Steve Viars November 13, 2016 Matthew 25:14-30

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True/False – God has designed many aspects of His creation with the delightful potential to grow and increase?

1. In the creation mandate

Genesis 1:28 - God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

2. In the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant

Exodus 1:7 - But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.

3. In the way we think about God’s name

Psalm 72:17 - May His name endure forever; may His name increase as long as the sun shines; and let men bless themselves by Him; let all nations call Him blessed.

4. In the way we think about learning

Proverbs 1:5 - A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel. 

Proverbs 9:9 - Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.

5. As a description of our generosity

Proverbs 11:24 - There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

6. Can possibly occur even in our joy

Isaiah 9:3 - You shall multiply the nation, you shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

Luke 2:10 - But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people…”

7. In your strength

Isaiah 40:29 - He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.

  • Acts 6:7 - The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
  • Acts 16:5 - So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 - Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
  • Colossians 1:5-6 - …the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth…
  • Colossians 1:10 - …so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12 - …and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you…
  • 2 Peter 1:8 - For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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.

4 principles to help us grow what God has entrusted to us

I. Evaluate Your Rate of Increase Based on What Was Entrusted to You, Not Someone Else

A. The master purposely entrusted different servants with different levels of gifts and responsibilities

2 Corinthians 10:12 - For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

B. The potential reward is the same

Matthew 25:15 - 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.

C. This truth cuts both ways

1. If you’re a “2 talent into 4 talent person,” don’t diminish what God is doing in and through you by comparing yourself to a “5 talent into 10 talent person”

2. If you’re a “5 talent into 5.5 talent person,” don’t become overconfident because you’re accomplishing more than the “2 talent into 4 talent person”

1 Corinthians 4:2-5 - In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

II. Live With a Sense of Urgency

A. Note the word “immediately”

Matthew 25:16-17 - 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 gained two more.

D.A. Carson, “The point is that the good servants felt the responsibility of their assignment and went to work without delay.”

B. Not out of a sense of guilt or raw duty but of anticipation of the joy that comes from increasing

III. Understand that Advancement Comes to Those Willing to Work and Risk

A. Meaning of the word “traded”

ergazomai – engage in activity that involves effort, work

D.A. Carson - “NIVs ‘put his money to work’ does not mean the servant invested the money in some lending agency. Rather he set up some business and worked with the capital to make it grow.”

B. How long they were willing to do this

Matthew 25:19 - Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

IV. Anticipate the Joy the Comes from Returning the Increase to the Master

Outlined Manuscript

- This morning I’d like to begin our time with a True/False question – are you up for that?

- True/False – God has designed many aspects of His creation with the delightful potential to grow and increase?...

- there’s no question about that – creating things that grow and increase is part and parcel of the character of God…

1. In the creation mandate - Genesis 1:28 - God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

- the previous verse explains that God created humans to be male and female on purpose – so there would be the delightful potential to increase…

- And look on FB on any given day and what are some of the happiest pictures about…someone who by God’s grace was able to be fruitful and multiply…that joy comes from the very heart and creative power of God…

2. In the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant – many here could stand to their feet and quickly list the three-fold provision of the Abrahamic covenant – land, seed, and blessing…given to an elderly man and his wife who up to that time had not been able to have children…which is why is it so thrilling to read at the beginning of the book of Exodus - Exodus 1:7 - But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.

- can you imagine the smile of the face of God – if we want to say it that way – at the way His people increased?...

3. In the way we think about God’s name – because humans are made in God’s image – they too would delight when good things increase -- Psalm 72:17 - May his name endure forever; may his name increase as long as the sun shines; and let men bless themselves by him; let all nations call him blessed.

- what a great prayer to guide our task here on earth – “may His name increase…as long as the sun shines…”

4. In the way we think about learning - Proverbs 1:5 - A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel. 

- Proverbs 9:9 - Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.

- one of the characteristics of wisdom and righteousness is a person constantly seeking to increase his knowledge…that’s a life-long pursuit…

5. As a description of our generosity - Proverbs 11:24 - There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.

- many of us can think back to times when there was some sort of financial need and by His grace we sacrificed and gave…and then in ways we weren’t even expecting, it was made up and more…it’s very counter-intuitive, but there it is…

6. Can possibly occur even in our joy - Isaiah 9:3 - You shall multiply the nation, you shall increase their gladness; they will be glad in Your presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

- that’s a beautiful passage about the Messiah…where a few verses later we read about Him being called the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace…now wonder our joy could increase…

- and is it any surprise that when Jesus is born, Luke 2:10 - But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

- please think about that for a minute – God makes it possible that your joy could increase…

7. In your strength - Isaiah 40:29 - He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.

- are you weary this am – do you “lack might” – this passage holds out the wonderful possibility of God increases your power…

- we could trace this exact same theme throughout the NT…we don’t have the time to do it as thoroughly as we might like and accomplish everything else we’d like to do today…but I would encourage you to chase the theme around your Bible this week…

- you’ll read about:

  • Jesus increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
  • John the Baptist saying of Christ – He must increase, but I must decrease

- you’ll read delightful verses like…

  • Acts 6:7 - The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
  • Acts 16:5 - So the churches were being strengthened in the faith, and were increasing in number daily.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:10–11 - Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
  • Colossians 1:5–6 - …the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;
  • Colossians 1:10 - so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:12 -            and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;
  • 2 Peter 1:8 - For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

- the point is – it’s not hard at all to make the argument that God has designed many aspects of His creation with the potential to grow and increase…

- and when that is happening in your life – it’s an honor to Him and a delight to you…

- which ought to be a great motivator to our stewardship…

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

- as we’ve been explaining, 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.

- this month, we decided to focus specifically on those four principles…

- last week we talked about how God entrusts you with everything you have, and we even gave you two homework assignments…

1. List 50 things God has entrusted to you

2. Look for specific ways to apply these principles each and every day…

- we had a great time around our house this week – it was amazing how often our sin the Bear brought this subject into everyday conversation…

- [insert pic from my FB page of Bear winterizing his bear]

- this am, we’re going to return to Matthew 25 – and one of the key steps in understanding and interpreting God’s Word is to read and re-read the text, to meditate on it, and make as many observations as you possible can about what God has said in each passage…

- so last week we thought about the significance of a man like Matthew, a former tax-collector being the One chosen to record this great parable…

- and then we thought about what this teaches us about the character of the master making the trust, and of you and I who are receiving the trust as his privileged servants…

- this morning we want to think about The Delightful Possibility of Increasing What God Has Given

- read Matthew 25:14-30

- so we’re talking about The Delightful Possibility of Increasing What God Has Given, and with the time we have remaining, let’s consider Four principles to help us grow what God has entrusted to us.

I. Evaluate Your Rate of Increase Based on What Was Entrusted to You, Not Someone Else.

- this passage is given with the intent that each of us would ask – which of the three servants am I like?...

- I want to hear the words “well done” from Jesus at the end of my life…certainly not – “you wicked lazy slave”…

- so this parable leads to self-evaluation…but we have to be very careful how we do that…

A. The master purposely entrusted different servants with different levels of gifts and responsibilities.

- if we slow down to think about this even for a minute, that principle stands out…

- and why is that important?...we can’t compare ourselves to someone else and make a determination about how well we’re doing…because everyone of us is different…

- that’s why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:12 - For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

- that idea is intensified when we realize…

B. The potential reward is the same.

- that too stands out in the passage…

- what is the difference between the commendation that the “2 talents into 4 talents person” received compared to the “5 talents into 10 talents person” received from the master?...

- on purpose, the answer is – absolutely nothing…

- they weren’t compared to one another – they were evaluated on their faithfulness to what had been entrusted to them as individuals…

- and did you see – even in the way in the talents were initially distributed…it was based on what according to verse 15?...

- Matthew 25:15 - 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.

- so the point is – as you think about this third principle of stewardship – you can either increase or diminish what God has given you – He wants you to increase it…

- don’t evaluate how you’re doing by looking at some one else…

- now, I’d like to suggest to you…

C. This truth cuts both ways.

- doesn’t it?...how so?...

1. If you’re a “2 talent into 4 talent person,” don’t diminish what God is doing in and through you by comparing yourself to a “5 talent into 10 talent person.”

- does that make sense or did I lose you in the math?...

- there are all kinds of us who are just simple people…God may not have entrusted us with outstanding intellect, or outstanding skill sets, or outstanding anything…but I’ll tell you this as a pastor – I’d rather have a humble, faithful 2 talent person trying to turn his/her 2 into 4 over a 5 talent proud person who thinks he/she is all that and a bag of chips any old day of the week…

2. If you’re a “5 talent into 5.5 talent person,” don’t become overconfident because you’re accomplishing more than the “2 talent into 4 talent person.”

- that’s why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:12 that comparing ourselves with others is unwise…

- he even went so far to say this in another one of our key stewardship passages… 1 Corinthians 4:2–5 - In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

- that’s not to suggest that we shouldn’t try to evaluate ourselves now…but that we shouldn’t put too much stock in that because we tend to get that evaluation skewed…

- but the overall point is – compare yourself to what God has entrusted to you – not to someone else…

- now let me ask you to pause and look at your stewardship commitment card…on the inside where it says “personal growth”…what about the areas that are listed there, what about the issue of giving…what about the areas of service on the back page…

- are you evaluating yourself and whether there has been an appropriate rate of increase not by looking at someone else – but honestly on the basis of all that God has given to you?...

- now, what’s the second principle we can see here?...

II. Live With a Sense of Urgency

- another clear observation here is to…

A. Note the word “immediately.”

- Matthew 25:16–17 - 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 gained two more.

- D.A. Carson wrote, “The point is that the good servants felt the responsibility of their assignment and went to work without delay.”

B. Not out of a sense of guilt or raw duty but of anticipation of the joy that comes from increasing.

- that’s why the verses we looked at in the introduction were so important this am…

- these faithful stewards were simply functioning in a way that is consistent with the character of the God in whose image we’re made…

- if you’re a long term member of this church, you know I’m a creature of habit…or that I keep a rather regimented schedule – there are other ways of describing that, but let’s just go with “creature of habit”…

- so on Monday I have the joy of serving in our church’s counseling center and then on Tuesday I prepare the message for the following Sunday…

- so as I preparing this message I received an e-mail from Edris Olson our Director of Counseling with a report we often hear on Tuesdays…

- that Susan Blake, one of our faithful lay counselors – had the privilege of leading her counselee from our community to Christ the night before…

- and that Dr. Charlie Hodges, another one of our faithful lay-counselors, had the same privilege with  man and wife a couple of weeks ago…

- well, they would each tell you that it takes a lot of work to receive all the training necessary to serve in that ministry…and to go through the certification process with an outside accrediting agency…

- and there’s all sorts of reasons/excuses to never getting around to actually doing that…

- but when you think about the possibility of increasing what God has given – in this case seeing increases to the family of God – how could you not go after those kinds of stewardship opportunities with a sense of urgency?...

- we’re going to develop this further next week because this passage is infused with all sorts of allusions to the end times…which increases the sense of urgency for sure…

- but let me ask you to look at your stewardship commitment brochure again…and think seriously about where you are – and then considering – what would “increasing” look like for you?...

- next week we’ll have our deacons’ election…so you have a brochure in your bulletin today with the men who have been willing to be considered for that important responsibility…

- what they are saying is – I’m willing to accept greater responsibility because there is a sense of urgency to what God wants to accomplish in/through our church family…

- I commend every one of them and their families for being willing to do so…

- now, what is one of the primary responsibilities of our deacons?...they provide a level of oversight for our church members…

- so when you become a member here – you’re placed on a deacons’ care group…[if for some reason you don’t know who your deacon is – contact our church office and we’ll make the connection]…

- but part of that deacons’ role is to help you grow in your service…

- and I would encourage you to either reach out to your deacon, or your ABF/small group leader, or your service pastor and ask him to help guide you into greater stewardship this coming year…

- there’s also a serving catalog that Janet Aucoin has prepared for us…

- the bulletin gives information on how to obtain it electronically…or you can pick up a hard copy at the welcome centers at both campuses…

- for some – that means taking the next step of accepting ministry responsibility…

- one of many examples I could give is how Bryce and Heather Hufford [insert pic] have overseen CFE for many years…they are incredibly passionate and incredibly organized…

- well, Matt and Nadia Bechler have stepped up to assist in that leadership responsibility…[insert pic]…

- that’s great for a dozen reasons…[develop]…

- and please don’t say – well, I’ll do that if somebody asks me…where’s the urgency in that?...let’s ask the Lord to help us be “immediately” kind of people…

III. Understand that Advancement Comes to Those Willing to Work and Risk.

- a third observation we could make here is…

A. Meaning of the word “traded.”

- ergazomai – engage in activity that involves effort, work

- D.A. Carson - “NIVs ‘put his money to work’ does not mean the servant invested the money in some lending agency. Rather he set up some business and worked with the capital to make it grow.”…and notice also…

B. How long they were willing to do this.

- it started with immediately…and went till when?...

- Matthew 25:19 - Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

- again, we’ll say a lot more about that next week too – but there is no question about the fact that God has designed stewardship to involve extended effort on the part of the people of God for a long, long, time

- you know, it’s not easy to take ministry risks…and it’s not easy to do it over and over…but that’s exactly what the Lord calls upon us to do…

- [insert picture of Ben Zobrist]…

- many of us enjoyed watching the Cubs win the World Series…one of the delightful stories to come out of that is the life and testimony of Ben Zobrist…[develop his willingness to take risks – but he’s not going to waste the platform God has given him…]

- [select a general picture of the Mexico BCTC from the album posted on my FB page]…

- one of the participants in our Biblical Counseling Training Conference in Mexico posted several dozen pictures of the conference on FB this week…and it just reminded me of the great privilege it was to serve there…

- [insert pic of Newton and Jadir – either from the album of just a general one]

- humanly speaking, much of this is coming to pass because of the ministry of Newton and Jadir Pena…

- and think about how that illustrates what we’re talking about multiple perspectives…

- Newton and Jadir have committed this portion of their lives to share the good news of the life-changing gospel with men and women in Latin America…

- which meant after they received some of this training – and saw the impact it had on their lives…

- they had the opportunity to move here and attend our three year seminary program…which was quite a risk on their part…

- and also on the part of the men and women giving financially to make the seminary possible…

- then after graduation, they were asked to stay here for a period of time and help us build out our Latin America strategy…and they were willing to take that risk too…

- [could talk about the video made by Jeremy, Sacha, Isaac Rivera and Alba Arroyo…]

- [insert pic from my FB album that includes Sam Hornbrook]

- another great aspect of this story is how our long-time missionary Sam Hornbrook fits into this…

- [insert pic of the group of people with the bright yellow soccer jerseys – Newton can help you identify them – the group from Columbia]…

- [if time, develop the contact with the group from Columbia…by the way, all these people are coming to Lafayette this Feb]…

- [if time – could also talk about all the financial risk involved with all of this – and the urban legend about Faith checking tax returns and sending monthly statements telling people how much to give…]

- [develop – what risks are you taking as a faithful steward…

- go back to commitment brochure – I dare you…

- BCTC vol/housing, start coming to CFN, Stew Celebration, etc]…

IV. Anticipate the Joy the Comes from Returning the Increase to the Master.

- Stewardship is a mentality that delights in increase – not for one’s own benefit, but for the advancement of the purposes of the master…

- [develop asking the owner of the pool place – did this work out well for you?]

- [could talk about CFN – all the different ministries, people being baptized from different countries…] – the delight of increase

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 have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. 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 the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, 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