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WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH THE THINGS THE LORD ENTRUSTED TO US?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

14 NOVEMBER 1993

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 123:1-4
Matthew 25:14-30
Romans 10:9

Today we are going to talk about the workplace, and the responsibilities we have in connection with our various jobs.

Suppose there was a person who came looking for a job, and this person had been praying for help from the Lord and expressed this hope to their future employer.

So they got hired, and were given extensive training at considerable expense to the employer.

But when they actually started work, they produced very little, and used other people to cover for their own laziness; thus the over-all productivity of the company was less after they were hired than before.

And that person got fired!

Did they deserve it?

Obviously!

But that person went away and complained to the Lord, saying that the Lord had gone back on the prayer He had previously answered.

Furthermore, this person was a bad witness for the Lord.

Does this sound familiar?

It should, for many people act this way in our society; and many, many more act this way with their job with the Lord our God.

Let's begin by looking again at our Scripture reading for this morning, Psalm 123:1-4.

And as we read these verses, listen to the prayer of the people seeking the Lord's help as if it were a prayer from this very congregation.

1. To Thee I lift up my eyes,
O Thou who art enthroned in the heavens!

2. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress;
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Until He shall be gracious to us.

The opening verse of praise and acknowledgement of God is most certainly true; but we must ask ourselves, "Do I and everyone else in the congregation behave and live our lives as if we are always looking upon the Lord?"

If we are really honest with ourselves, we must answer "No!" because we have all done something against the Lord's will from time to time. We are not always looking upon the Lord.

Now, with this in mind look at verse 2.

Consider our attitude toward those we work for, or toward those to whom we are responsible.

Do we have the same attitude toward them as we do toward the Lord?

Here, I believe our answer is really closer to a "Yes!"

If we looked upon others as we should look upon the Lord, we would look beyond our differences to see the Lord's desire in their lives as we desire it in ours.

But, unfortunately, we in our society are so used to finding fault with everything and with everyone in authority, that we come to look upon the Lord in the same manner.

This is why we are constantly seeking the Lord's grace.

Listen to the remaining verses of this Psalm, and note the inner conflict of what we should be like as opposed to the way the world is like around us.

3. Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us;
For we are greatly filled with contempt.

4. Our soul is greatly filled
With the scoffing of those who are at ease,
And with the contempt of the proud.

Now, if we were to put on a huge free dinner to attract all the people of the community, and as a prayer before dinner, we would give a copy of this Psalm to everyone to read, wouldn't most of the people read it aloud?

And wouldn't it be true in the lives of most of them, for to the degree that we look upon the Lord and others, so is the response to our prayer.

As we love, so we receive the fullness of God's grace.

God's grace is always around us, but it is our true love that is the receptor of that grace, for without love we cannot live in a state of grace.

The kind of love we're talking about is an unconditional love that extends to the whole of God's creation; to every other person, to every animal, and to the environment.

And believe it or not, our attitude concerning our various jobs is directly related to this love/grace relationship.

Have you ever seen the sign that says, "My Boss is a Jewish carpenter"?

If we say we are Christians, then we are working for the Lord in addition to anyone else for whom we may be working.

In Matthew 25:14-30, we are told a parable about a man and his servants, so that we would relate it to our own working relationship with the Lord.

Listen to what Jesus said.

14. "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves [or servants], and entrusted his possessions to them.

15. "And to one he gave five talents [each talent being equivalent to $6,300 in silver, or $525,000 in gold; of which we are not told, but a lot of money in either case], to another, two [talents], and to another, one [talent], each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

So that we really get the feeling of the magnitude of this trust, let's imagine that we were entrusted with gold; so that the very least that any of us would be entrusted with is over one half million dollars.

Consider how we would react, as we look at the actions of the servants of this master.

16. "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.

If we still equate this to gold, he now has $5,000,000.00, and has made his boss a $2,500,000.00 profit.

17. "In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.

He now has $2,000,000.00, and earned his boss a $1,000,000.00 profit.

18. "But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground, and hid his master's money.

Well, he didn't earn anything additional, but he protected that which was entrusted to him.

When the boss returns, what do you think his attitude will be about what has taken place?

19. "Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

20. "And 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.'

If the master considered the five talents to be but a few things, think of all the wealth he must really have had.

22. "The one also who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted to me two talents; 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.’

Both are being rewarded for their diligence and responsibility.

Obviously they did what was pleasing to their boss.

But what about the last servant?

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.

Even with the low interest rates we have today, the master could have earned between $40-45,000.00 per year on his money.

Because of the slave's mismanagement, he deprived his master of that money, while in the meantime the master had provided for him.

Thus the master in essence lost twice.

So, what does he do?

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 shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.

30. "And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Obviously, we are not talking about actual slaves and their master, but of the Lord and those who claim to serve Him.

Now consider what we are told in Romans 10:9.

9. that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;

Our salvation is a very precious “commodity” that has been entrusted to us.

So is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

In reality, all of us who are gathered here today work for the Lord, just as the slaves in our parable worked for their master.

And all of us have received our share of the wealth, just as the slaves received their master's talents.

What are we really producing with our talents?

How much of a difference have we made in this world?

How much love and compassion have we spread around?

Are we living as peacemaking children of God who are working to free the whole of creation from it's present corruption?

What kind of an example have we set in our "business transactions" so that others would want to invest with us in the Lord's work, in order that the Lord would make a profit – a real profit?

Not a profit in dollars and cents, but a profit in souls.

The Lord gave us back our own life!

How many lives have we given back to Him as a profit?

Perhaps our problem is that we don't really consider what the Lord desires of us.

To receive God's gift of eternal life and then do nothing with it, is, as the example tells us, enough to make us unworthy of heaven; and even worse, worthy of hell.

Truly, deeply, and with absolute sincerity, look into the depths of your own being, and consider for your self: "What am I doing with the things the Lord has entrusted to me and what am I going to do from this day forward?"

As each of us contemplates this question in our hearts and minds, remember that the Lord loves each of us very much and desires only good for us.

Remember that He also loves every other human being and animal, and wants only good for them, too.

And with just a little effort on our part, He will multiply what we have, including what we gain.

If we bring joy and peace to other humans, animals, and the environment, are we not multiplying part of what God has entrusted to us?

Work diligently for the Lord.

He is more worthy than anyone else, but what we do for others is the same as doing it for the Lord our God.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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