May 2018  
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Matthew 25: 14-30                     “Worthless & Tossed Out”          

11/19/2017                                                       Rev. Jerry W. Krueger                      Boardman UMC

Slacker, goldbrick, loafer, slouch, deadbeat, goof off, or as my kids would say, “Lazoid.”.  Ever worked with anyone that fit that description? I have, and it is unpleasant.

In the text today we hear of 4 participants. The master, and three servants.  This morning we’ll start at the conclusion of the story and work our way back.  The conclusion of the text plainly and pointedly states what many DO NOT want to hear. Listen again with new ears from Matthew 25: 28-30. (Read now)

One of my sons had a part time job at Discount Tire while in college. It was hard, grueling work, but high paying for a college student. My son Mike repaired, rotated and installed tires for 8 months, when a position in sales came available. He applied for and got the job which paid significantly less, but had a lucrative incentive commission component, making it attractive for someone who would work hard.

Mike was doing well and in anticipation of his first check in the new job, he’d calculated the revenue he believed he had earned. However, Michael received a check with less than the anticipated amount. When he investigated, he found that a slacker, a LAZOID, as Mike called him, would enter his own employee code after a sale, to most everyone else’s sales sheet.

Complaints to the store manager, to the employee himself, or the regional office seemed to have any effect. But two weeks later, a new manger appears, she meets with the employees, and lays out the ground rules for receiving credit for sales.  Five days later, the slacker was fired for violation of company rules, and for not pulling his fair share at the store.

The slacker left with threats, weeping, gnashing of teeth, and bemoaned the fact that this manager, had just “ruined his life,” and that any financial issues suffered by the slacker, or the slackers family, was managements fault, not the slackers fault. Sure, blame someone else. The slacker did not want accountability, and he had no love for his work. He had the same opportunities as all of the workers. The distress the man felt and encountered, was of his own making. This is accountability language that does not sit well with some.

In our Matthew text today, the Master is going out of town, and leaves significant finances with his three servants to look after the Master’s enterprise in his absence.  He trusts the three to do the right thing.

The Master leaves various amounts of talents with the servants. A talent as noted in the Bible, is a laborers wages for 15 years. In today’s dollars it equates to $10 an hour, X 40 hrs. X 52 weeks, X 15 years, one talent equates to $312,000.  None of the servants are given more than they can handle by the generous master.  The master leaves, later returns and queries the servants about the use of the talents he left with them. The first servant doubles the money from $1,500,000 to $3 million. The second servant doubles the talents from $625,000 to $1,200,000.

“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.”  What a great affirmation of a job well done, and good stewardship by the two servants. These servants had great joy in pleasing the master, using the talents they were given for his glory and benefit.

There is a reward for them, not in proportion to what they had been given, but a reward from the Master for their successful use of the gifts left in their care.

So now we come to the 3rd servant, who could have been in the group with the two other servants, if he’d used the single talent for some kind of return for the master. Instead, he thought of all the reasons why there should be no risk on his part. He thought it was better to not use the talent, because if not used right, he’d be scolded. So the servant hid the talent, and failed to use it.

Similar to the church with a big, fat, mission budget, that is more concerned about accumulating a hefty bank balance, not wanting to turn loose of the money, which is NOT theirs anyway. It belongs to God for mission purpose. It’s meant to be sowed in the mission field, not locked up in a checking account.

The 3rd servant said of the master, “You are hard and harsh, and don’t care for me, love me, or respect me. If I just dig a hole and put the money in it, I won’t lose anything at all. You’re out nothing.”  The servant feels as if he’s being put upon by the Master. So he misses opportunity to put resources to work.

The Master hears the complaint from the servant, and like the new manager at Discount Tire, tells the 3rd servant essentially, “You’ve have had the same opportunity as all others. You’re blaming me, for your failure, to take advantage of the opportunity presented to you. You’re lazy. There is no place for you here. You need to leave. NOW.”

The 3rd servant only sees the Master as mistrustful, and the servant lives in fear, and his own sloth. If he’d truly loved the Master, he would not have attempted to blame Him, he would have operated out of love and respect for the Master.

This is a text about accountability that should cause each of us to examine our lives in relationship to the Christ.  I read this text and ask myself, “With what Christ has given me, am I using my gifts, my talents to the fullest for God’s glory?”   Daily we encounter Christian’s who use their gifts for God, and we also  encounter those who are gifted, but do nothing with the talents or gifts God has bestowed upon them. Much like the 3rd servant.

We are not to cruise through life just as surface dwellers. My boys and I were on vacation years ago and took a snorkeling dive off of a reef.  While underwater we encountered beautiful tropical fish, Moray eels, and saw 10 or 12 huge rays that glided gracefully near us. After we docked, the boys were excitedly talking about ALL the life that had been seen under the water. “Dad, it’s like a hidden world, but we don’t see it, because we are on a boat sailing over the surface of the water.”

That is how many people live their lives. They have this resource of strength and wisdom, opportunity, talents and gifts just under the surface, waiting to be harnessed, utilized for the Kingdom of God.  But they are unwilling to invest in their faith life for Christ, the Master, and they skim over the surface of life, not seeing anything but what is right in front of them.

In this Matthew text, Christ is challenging his listeners, his followers with words of admonition and encouragement.

Jesus proclaims in a clear voice, “I have given you each varying talents. I want you to use them for me. But if you don’t, if you squander these gifts, then you have no part of me, no place with me. I have given to you, don’t fail because of your laziness or sloth, and fail to reflect back my love.”

People of God, Christ bestows opportunity on each of you, with unique gifts that only you may possess, and there is an expectation and an obligation that you will use these gifts for Christ. That you will not bury them away, like some dusty old, discarded, pair of shoes in the back of the closet.

Opportunity exists for you to ring Salvation Army bells, collect PJ’s for the Beatitude house, to contribute toiletries, clothing or funds to Veteran’s Outreach. You have opportunity to share in a POTLUCK time of fellowship in community TODAY in Fellowship Hall. You can help put up decoration in the church for Hanging of the Greens on the weekend after Thanksgiving. 

We have a choice here of what we hear from Jesus. We may only hear, “throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Or, do we desire to hear, “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!”

Jesus is calling to you. What will you hear—today?

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.