In God’s kingdom we must refine and refocus our priorities (Matthew 13:44-46)
Jesus tells several parables (earthly stories with heavenly meanings) about God’s kingdom. The stories relate to circumstances or individuals who act in order to enter or honor God’s kingdom.
The first story is of a man who found treasure hidden in a field. Treasures were often buried for safe keeping. Finding buried treasure would not have been uncommon in a land that was often invaded by surrounding armies. When the man realized what he found, he sold all that he has in order to purchase the field with hidden treasure. The treasure was more than enough to compensate for what he lost. Jesus told this story to inspire people to seek for treasure that is far greater than you could find on earth.
The second story is of a merchant searching for fine pearls. Business owners would hire divers to search for pearls. One merchant made claim to a fine and valuable pearl by selling all that he had to make its purchase. Again, Jesus told this story to help people to see that there are times it is necessary to relinquish one thing in order to gain reward in another area.
As we have seen in this series, God is worth all our risk.
God is unfailing in His purpose and unsparing in His promises & resources to His people. He will triumph and be victorious.
The question is whether you and I will have the privilege and pleasure of joining Him.
In order to enter the Kingdom and to exalt the King we have to eliminate things that distract. We must refine and refocus our priorities.
Refine or Relinquish
- What are the things that you have to relinquish in order to gain reward?
- Surrender to self-directed life in order to trust God with your life plans.
- Upgrade your story from being primary in a never seen show to being secondary in a show for the ages…
- Cease actions and attitudes that are not producing desired rewards. To get different results you must start doing different actions.
- Sin promises to please but always fails to fulfill.
- Refining relationships or relinquishing behaviors can be hard to personally stop and sometimes hurtful to others. But you must choose your priority.
- Surrender to self-directed life in order to trust God with your life plans.
Mark 8:34-38 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Luke 14:26-27, 33 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple… count the cost… if any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
John 12:24 “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Illus: Story of man who asked pastor to pray for him. “Pastor, when I made $30k I gave generously. Now that I make $130K, I seem to need it all and don’t give as much. Pray for me.” Pastor prayed, “Lord, take this man back to earning $30K so he can give generously again.”
Refocus or Renew
- What are the things that you need to refocus your resources or renew you passion?
- Track your last 1-2 weeks for where you felt energized or felt drained.
- Evaluate areas of time wasted…
- pursue wisdom like silver and search for it as hidden treasure (Prov 2:4)
- Pray and ask God to reveal areas that need refined and refocused in your life.
- Simplify: What will matter in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 and 50 years?
In God’s kingdom we must risk the present by investing resources in an unseen future for the Master’s joy (Matthew 25:14-30).
Jesus tells another parable to help us understand God’s future kingdom. This time the story is of an owner – a master – who goes away on a journey but entrusts his servants with his property. One servant receives 5 talents (a years wages was 300 denarri; 6K denarri = 1 talent, so 1 talent was 20 years worth of normal wage. So the sum is vast.). Another servant receives 2 talents. And another receives 1 talent.
Each of the servants received “according to his ability” (25:15). Not everyone has been given equal ability or exactly similar circumstances. Yet, each person is responsible for what they have been given.
- Bill Gates will be responsible for his bank account. Likewise you will be for your account.
- Quote from 19th C Scottish Pastor John Brown “[Young Pastor], I know the vanity of your heart and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough.”
- à What resources and abilities will you have to give an account to the Lord Jesus?
The servants with 5 and 2 talents went and multiplied their talents. The servant with only 1 talent hid the money under ground. The difference between these servants is the difference between stewardship and ownership. Owners own – they are sovereign in respect to their resources or property. Stewards steward – they are subject to the owner’s instructions on managing their resources or property. Further, stewards must give an account, whereas owners demand an account of others.
- à We can get deluded thinking we are owners.
- My library book
- Christian steward may pray for those who read or will read the book.
- My exercise machine at the gym
- A Christian steward sees others who use their machine as those to witness to
- My parking space at work
- A Christian steward sees parking lots as opportunities to witness
- My pew seat at church
- A Christian steward seeks to fill their pew up with those they’ve invited to hear gospel.
- My ministry
- A Christian steward seeks to recruit and equip others in their ministry
- My church
- A Christian steward seeks to teach their church to reach others and grow & multiply their church.
- My library book
25:19 “After a long time” the master returned to “settle accounts”. There was understood expectation between the master and the servants to have a ROI (return on investment).
The servants who had 5 and 2 talents doubled the investment to 10 and 4, returning them to the master. They seem to have expected their master’s return and were excited to share the news of their fruit. As a result, the master is pleased saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Greater responsibility was given and so was greater relationship – enter into the joy of your master.
Yet, the servant who had 1 talent did not invest or multiply the master’s return. He knew the master was a “hard man” (hard, strict, exacting). He knew the master expected to reap in a broad manner. Essentially, the servant was condemned for not risking. The talent he was given was removed and then he is described as a “worthless servant” and to be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (25:30).
There are at least 2 applications for this last servant:
- A true servant is one in deed not just words. It is true that no one can judge another’s heart. However, one can be judged based upon the fruit of their words. An appropriate confrontation would be, “I want to believe your words – i.e. that you are a Christian. However, your actions are not reflecting this statement, so help me understand your Christianity and reasoning for your actions.”
- A true servant risks. To not risk was to not give effort. Many view sin as something that we commit against God. Sin goes deeper in not just acts we commit but acts we should commit and do not. The servant committed the sin of omission.
Risk in the present.
You do not know whether your heart will stop before the end of my sermon. You do not know if when you turn onto Benfield Road that an oncoming driver will swerve out of his lane and hit you head on leaving you in a coma the rest of your life. You cannot be certain that you do not contract Ebola from someone at a restaurant or doctors office. You could be at the grocery store or mall and be shot by a wild-man sniper. You could never leave your house and stay under the covers of your bed and but still be taking a risk because a tree could fall to crush the roof of your house with you underneath.
Ultimate security is a myth and a safe life is a mirage. It does not exist; every direction you turn there are a thousand unknowns and circumstances beyond your control. Risk is woven into the fabric of our finite everyday life because we are not God. We do not know what today or tomorrow holds.
Therefore, we are called to live every moment with faithfulness and risk to the glory of God.
This series has challenged us to see the worth of God. He did not sacrifice His Son for our comfort.
- Can we honestly say, “The manner of my living is reflective of the seriousness and sacrificial nature of what Christ did on the cross”? This is not to say that we live to earn our salvation but rather that we live for the joy of the Master. Grace is opposed to earning but not effort.
- Does the way you cultivate and interact in relationships reflect the nature of eternity?
- Do the choices you as teens – and parents – make regarding sports involvement, educational growth, family priorities, point to the greatness of God’s fame or your own?
- Does the effort you put into your spiritual growth and serving God show the serious nature of Christ’s sacrifice?
- Is your retirement being leveraged with maximum seriousness and sacrifice for the joy of your Master?
- Practical application for this series on risk: most Christians tend to over-think and under-act. Those who profess Christ are not overtly sinning against God, but they are too frequently not acting in the areas they know or believe God has called them to act.
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 Donald Carson, Matthew, Expositors Bible Commentary. Note on 25:15.
 Adapted from: Risk is Right by John Piper, 19-20.
 Statement adapted from Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something, p.41 where he says, “Some Christians need encouragement to think before they act. Others need encouragement to act after they think.”