When We Steal From God Without Knowing It

by | October 9, 2017

Stewardship may be about much more than you think. The Parable of the Talents is a great lesson in what it really means to be a steward.

Here’s how the story starts:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents and to another one talent, each according to ability.  Then he went on his journey.” – Matthew 25:14-15 (NIV)

In reading these verses, some important themes pop up right away:

  1. The master owns the money. “Talent” is used as a currency term. The story is about money. Everyone knows the master owns it.
  2. Each servant has the trust of the master. The master’s business depends on the servant’s productiveness in his absence.
  3. Each servant has freedom to manage their money. With it, the have an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities.
  4. The master chooses the unequal distribution of talents. Not equal gifts, but equal opportunity.

 

We are Stewards of the Master’s Resources

The story continues:

“…the man who received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.

The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master, he said. “ you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, “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’s happiness!’ The man with the two talents also came. ‘ Master,’ he said, ‘ you entrusted me with two talents; see I have gained two more.’ His master replied, 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’s happiness!” – Matthew 25: 16-23 (NIV)

 

Each steward had the potential for equal reward.  The master gave the first two identical commendations, even though they didn’t have equal amounts. They learned that is was not the amount of resources in their possession that determined their reward, but rather how they used the resources. Such great news for us:

We can be successful stewards even without great wealth.

What we do with what we have been given? This is the focus of God in our lives. We are not only responsible for the use of money given but also for the use of all gifts given to us (Body, Mind, Spirit, Time, Talent).

 

Stewardship is About God Using Money to Partner With Us

What about the one who hid the talent?

“Then the man who had received this one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and I went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sewn and gathered where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Take the talent from him and give it to the one that has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” –  Matthew 25:24-30 (NIV)

Each steward had a personal responsibility and a partnership with the master. We face the same question: “What did you do with what you were given?”  The third steward knew that all he had belonged to the master, but he made a choice to accomplish nothing. This action was a disappointment to the master. How do we feel about the master’s response? Was the response fair?

This story teaches us that God shares wealth with us so we can participate in a partnership—an important relationship.  Consider the actions of the steward who hid the talent.  He had not wasted the master’s resources on wrong things, yet the master was angry. The steward had not done much wrong; he just had not done anything.  Would the master have been less angry at a bad investment?

 

Doing Nothing Makes the Master Angry

It seems there was something in the attitude of the steward that brought on the condemnation. Could it have been the disregard for his master’s business?  The steward knew the master’s business interests yet disregarded them. He had the ability to do the job but lacked the willingness.  He simply made no effort to participate in the partnership. The story suggests to do nothing is worse than to do the wrong thing! In doing nothing, he became a thief.

When do we become thieves?  When we as stewards assume the rights and privileges that belong to the master.

The Old Testament Malachi proclaimed, “You have robbed God.” The people denied it, asking, “how have we robbed God?”  They were acting as if their possessions were their own property. There is a significant distinction between possession and ownership. It is the difference between stewardship and ownership. This is a serious and subtle danger to which every steward is subject.

 

Just Being a Steward Isn’t Enough

Can I be trusted? God has called us into partnership. How are we doing in such relationship?  It can never be enough to simply believe we are stewards of God’s resources. We are to live out our belief in a trustworthy relationship as stewards working to be productive partners with God in this journey of life. Our behavior must reflect our belief.

We’re more than stewards; we’re partners.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Everything you need to inspire generosity.

RECENT Posts

How to Make the Offering About Love (An Offering Talk for Sunday)

Instead of simply calling the ushers forward, help your congregation understand deeper meaning and connection inherent in the offering time of worship. Use what I call an Offering Talk to connect the offering to the giver’s relationship to God.

An Offering Talk can help your congregation understand the deep meaning and connection inherent in the offertory. It is an ideal stewardship teaching moment.

 

Here’s a sample Offering Talk to use Sunday.

Every night a father tucked his daughter into bed and they would repeat their familiar routine. The little girl would say, “I love you” and her dad would say, “I love you first.” One night, however, the little girl interjected a change. After hearing her father say, “I love you first,” she proclaimed, “I love you always!” And that became their new routine. The little girl has grown and is now a young wife and mother, but daughter and father continue to share these words. The exchange continues to affirm their love and connection. One will say, “I love you first” and then wait to hear the response, “I love you always.”

I love you first, and I love you always.

As wonderful a gift as the love between a parent and child, how much greater and more perfect is the love between God the Creator and those claimed as God’s children? This is the image of the God we have come to worship today. A God whose love reaches back into all our yesterdays and stretches into all our tomorrows. A God who always loves and forgives, who is always there to guide us when we are lost, to strengthen us when we are tired, and who overwhelms our hearts with love and grace. We come today to both acknowledge and praise the One who loves us first and who will love us always.

The motivation for giving is love.

Years ago a widow gave her last two coins as an offering to God. Many still wonder what motivated such a sacrificial gift. Surely she did not expect to have her name engraved on a wall or have the street in front of the Temple named in her honor. She clearly did not anticipate her gift would be lifted up as an example for others to follow centuries later. So what motivated her gift? Maybe she was motivated by a heart-felt desire to declare her life had been blessed by a God who had always met her needs. Blessed by a God who loved her first and always. The widow’s sacrificial offering was the very best way she knew to express that she loved God first. She would love God always.

Too often the offering is viewed as a time to pay the bills.

Today, many see the offering as a way for the church to collect money to pay bills and fund ministries. Yet at its very core, the offering is so much more. The offering is the time we are invited to proclaim, through faith, that we love God first. We love Him more than our jobs, our assets, our possessions, our hobbies, and even our families.

The offering is the time we proclaim our trust in God, above all else, as we move into an unknown future.

It is in giving we stay connected to what is really important in life and not allow materialism to define who we are; and it is in giving that we gain a deeper understanding of the depth of sacrificial love God has for us. It is in giving that we grow in our own personal journey as a follower of Jesus. It is in giving we say to God and to the world those simple, yet life-defining words: “I love you first, and I will love you always.”

 

An Offering Talk connects the act of giving to a higher purpose.

The offering is not a time to pay bills as mentioned above. The act of giving is at the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Consider using this talk in your next worship service, or write your own. In either case, help your congregation see the higher purpose of giving in worship.

 

 To learn more about Dustin Cooper, please click here.

 

 

Giving365 is a free subscription from Horizons Stewardship including blogs, ebooks, webinars and more! Subscribers receive bi-monthly blogs including information on best practices, the latest trends in giving, and helpful tools to use immediately to grow giving. In addition, Horizons’ team of Ministry Strategists will share their insights and expertise through a series of webinars. To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

The blog was updated from the original published 2/20/2018.

 

 

“Giving” Has to Be One of Your Church’s Key Words

“Giving” as one of the Key Words in Core Strategy

Len Wilson, Horizons’ Communications Strategist, discusses the importance of including “giving” in the key words that define your core strategy. This next video in Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series will help your church grow in giving and move to the next level of generosity.

When “giving” is included in your core strategies, it conveys the importance of generosity as a part of the discipleship journey and what it means to be a devoted Christ follower.

 

 

If you missed other installments of the Giving Intelligence Series, then click the titles below. Also, sign up for Giving365 in order to access these and other helpful videos as well as more free stewardship resources including insightful eBooks!

Three Reasons Americans Choose to Give

The Power of Thanks: Four Practical Ministry Funding Impact Strategies

Who Should Have Access to the Giving Records

Three Pockets of Giving

Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign

 

To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign?

How do you know if you are ready to launch a capital campaign?  

 

Kristine Miller, CFRE, Horizons’ Senior Partner, discusses the five important steps you should take prior to launching a capital campaign to ensure successful results.

 

In this latest video from Horizons’ Giving Intelligence Series, Kristine discusses five actions to take prior to launching a campaign for any project such as building, restoration, debt, missions, endowment, or any other capital needs. Has your church leadership wondered whether or not you’re ready to go? If so, this brief video will provide the insights and answers you are looking for.

 

If you missed other installments of the Giving Intelligence Series, click the titles below. Also, sign up for Giving365 in order to access these and other helpful videos as well as more free stewardship resources including insightful eBooks!

Three Reasons Americans Choose to Give

The Power of Thanks: Four Practical Ministry Funding Impact Strategies

Who Should Have Access to the Giving Records

Three Pockets of Giving

 

To access more of Horizons’ free stewardship resources, click the Giving365 logo below.
Giving365 - Blog - Horizons - church stewardship resource

OUR NETWORK

Follow Us

PO Box 627
Cabot, Arkansas 72023

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This