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A matter of trust

Scripture Union http://www.wordlive.org

Text: Prepare

Take some time to count your blessings; to recall or note all the resources, relationships and gifts that God has given to you.

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Bible passage: Bible passage: Matthew 25:14-30

 

The Story of Three Servants

 14  "Again, here is what the kingdom of heaven will be like. A man was going on a journey. He sent for his servants and put them in charge of his property. 15  He gave $10,000 to one. He gave $4,000 to another. And he gave $2,000 to the third. The man gave each servant the amount of money he knew the servant could take care of. Then he went on his journey.

 16  "The servant who had received the $10,000 went at once and put his money to work. He earned $10,000 more. 17  The one with the $4,000 earned $4,000 more. 18  But the man who had received $2,000 went and dug a hole in the ground. He hid his master's money in it.

 19  "After a long time the master of those servants returned. He wanted to collect all the money they had earned. 20  The man who had received $10,000 brought the other $10,000. 'Master,' he said, 'you trusted me with $10,000. See, I have earned $10,000 more.'

 21  "His master replied, 'You have done well, 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!'

 22  "The man with $4,000 also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you trusted me with $4,000. See, I have earned $4,000 more.'

 23  "His master replied, 'You have done well, 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!'

 24  "Then the man who had received $2,000 came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest where you have not planted. You gather crops where you have not scattered seed. 25  So I was afraid. I went out and hid your $2,000 in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

 26  "His master replied, 'You evil, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not planted? You knew that I gather crops where I have not scattered seed? 27  Well then, you should have put my money in the bank. When I returned, I would have received it back with interest.'

 28  "Then his master commanded the other servants, 'Take the $2,000 from him. Give it to the one who has $20,000. 29  Everyone who has will be given more. He will have more than enough. And what about anyone who doesn't have? Even what he has will be taken away from him. 30  Throw that worthless servant outside. There in the darkness, people will sob and grind their teeth.'

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Text: Explore the Bible

 

The gift of life 

We are all to be found somewhere in this parable. We may feel as if we've been entrusted with great material wealth, power and influence: the man with five bags of gold. Or we may feel like the man entrusted with comparatively little. Either way, God has entrusted us with the gift of life and various other resources - it's up to us how we use them. 

The conclusion of this story may seem shocking; after all, the man who buries his talents is trying to preserve what he has been given (vs 18,24,25). Yet in God's eyes, burying the treasure he's entrusted us with is the worst thing we could choose to do with it. 

God believes in us 

Because, of course, God has believed in us. He gives us gifts and resources because he trusts us to try to put them to good use; to bless others and see the kingdom extend. To simply bury our treasure is to betray that trust.  

So whether the parable seems fair or not is irrelevant; the application for us is to work out what treasure God has entrusted us with, and consider how to put it to work for him. He believes and expects that we'll use it well.

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Text: Respond

 

Return to that list of your resources. How could you practically put some of these things to work for God and for the benefit of others? 

Martin Saunders

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Text: Deeper Bible study

 

The actress Helena Bonham Carter has described her attitude to life: 'We're all going to die anyway; so what does it matter so long as you keep a sense of humour and have fun?' That's today's philosophy for many people. Jesus gives a very different perspective: live your life now in his service, responsibly, wholeheartedly, in the expectation that one day he will return. As Matthew 23-25 has reminded us, Christians might face the dangers of persecution, false prophets or international turmoil, but there is another danger that we face - apathy. 

The story of the servants is familiar to us. They are entrusted with responsibilities of varying degrees and they are expected to act as good stewards, investing the resources wisely. When the Master returns, his condemnation is reserved for the servant who failed to understand his Master's character and his purposes. He acted out of fear (v 25). There are those today who claim to be disciples of the Master but who don't know him and who fail to invest their lives in his kingdom.  

The passage is a direct call to wholehearted service. We must use our God-given gifts and opportunities for his purposes and his glory. One day we shall be tested. The quality of our building work will be assessed (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), so we must take care how we build. Jesus' language is heightened as he points to the inevitability of judgement (vs 28-30). He could not be more direct about the consequences of failing to give our lives to him and his cause. Paul reminds us that each of us will give an account to God (Romans 14:12). As Martin Luther put it, 'Work as though he will not be coming for a 1,000 years. Be ready as if he should come today.' 

Jonathan Lamb

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Text: How do you see God?

Why didn't Jesus tell this story with just two servants, one good and one bad? I think it is to show us that it doesn't matter what you start with or how much you actually make. The two good servants both doubled what they had, and were equally commended.

So what are our 'bags of gold'? They are our talents, but also our opportunities, our advantages, our situations. Jesus wants us to work for him, making good use of our time until he comes back.

It's up to each one of us to figure out how best to do that. If we are afraid to step out and take a risk for him, we should perhaps check our idea of what God is like.

A lot of people have distorted ideas about God. They think of him as a harsh judge, as someone who is always commanding us not to do this, not to do that. They see him as a despot. They imagine that he loves exercising his power and sending people to hell.

It is vitally important that we grow in our understanding of what God is really like.

We can do this:

 

. by attending a church where the Bible is faithfully taught

 

. by reading the Bible ourselves

 

. by being in a small group

 

We also learn through our own experience:

 

. We learn of his love and mercy when we confess our sins and experience his tenderness.

 

. We learn the power of the Holy Spirit when we follow his prompting and step out in faith to do something we would not of ourselves have the courage to do.

 

 

Sometimes I am daunted by what God seems to be expecting of me. I am tempted to pull out of something I have agreed to do. But I am learning that he always enables me to do in his strength what I could not do on my own.

Annabel Robinson

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Text: Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year. Today's readings are:

 

Ezekiel 1

 

John 21

 

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Text: podcast

 

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