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Kingdom Stewardship




November 19, 2023 |Kingdom StewardshipMatthew 25:1-13

JD Cutler


For the sermon audio, click here 


We are going to pick up immediately from where we left off last week. You can go ahead and turn to Matthew 25 if you have your bibles this morning. 

As a way of a reminder or in case you were not here last week, let’s get our bearings in the gospel of Matthew where we will be this morning. 

We are in the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry before the cross. He has been teaching in the temple, he has been challenged by the religious leaders, he has given parables condemning them and then he has pronounced 7 woes on them calling out their hypocrisy. Upon leaving the temple with his disciples, one of them calls his attention to the beauty of the temple mount. Surprisingly, Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple and the abandonment of Jerusalem.

As soon as they get to the mount of Olives and Jesus sits down, the disciples come to him privately to ask him when. When will these things happen and what will be the signs of your coming and the end of the age?


We noted last week that Jesus answers two questions in response to their inquiries. One, about the destruction of the temple and the abandonment of Jerusalem. He tells them what things to look for and what to do in response when they see them, flee! Because of this, in AD70 when Rome completely leveled the temple and slaughtered a large number of Jews, many Christians, remembering Jesus’ words, fled, and were preserved. 


Then he transitions to talking about the day, or his second coming, answering not when but rather what it looks like to be prepared when he does return. 

To do this, Jesus uses many different teaching methods, he uses the example of Noah and the days before the flood as illustrative of the second coming. He uses the picture of a faithful servant vs an evil one. He uses a parable of a group of ladies invited to accompany the bridegroom to the wedding feast, a parable of a master distributing talents to be used while he is away, and finally he uses a picture of a shepherd separating sheeps from goats as a picture of the final judgment that accompanies his second coming. 


Last week we looked at his first parable of the ten virgins where Jesus illustrates what being actually prepared for his coming vs merely seeming prepared for his coming looks like. From that we saw three reasons a disciple must be prepared, his return will be unexpected, it will be too late to prepare when he comes, and if we are unprepared to meet him, we will not enter into his rest with him.

This morning, we will pick up the second parable and next week we will look at the final one description he gives of his judgment.  

If the first parable ultimately dealt with being spiritually prepared to meet him, then the second parable addresses what we should be doing while we wait for his return. 


Jesus connects this parable to the previous one with the words, For it will be like? What will ‘be like’?

Verse 1 of chapter 25 says, (ESV) “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like…and goes on to use the unexpected arrival of an expected bridegroom as what his second coming will look like. Now, he moves into a more specific example of his return. “For it will be like…


Jesus is going to illustrate a concept for us this morning that we are going to call Kingdom Stewardship. 


As one Pastor and Theologian I listen to said as he began his message on this passage, I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is that I am preaching about money this morning. The good news is that I’m not preaching on tithing!

Jesus uses money here to illustrate what faithful stewardship in the kingdom looks like. This morning I want to give you three statements, that my prayer is, will help you understand what Kingdom Stewardship is, as well as what that means for you today. 


The first statement is that…


God makes every servant a steward.

Steward and stewardship are not words that we use much anymore, so I want to take a minute and define some terms. If you were to search for the word steward in your bible, you would find this word in various old testament passages, as well as one new testament passage where Paul writing to his protege Titus, concerning his calling as an overseer or Pastor or Elder, calls him God’s steward. 

The Greek word  there brings two words together: the Greek word for house and the Greek word for law. Literally translated house-law. It is the position of someone carrying out the law of the house on behalf of the owner. Essentially we might call him the house manager, but the word describes anyone equipped and authorized to act on the behalf of another in their affairs. 

There is a sense that every servant is a steward already. They are tasked with various jobs or duties in which they use their time and talents to care for, manage, or produce from what their master owns. 

But often a servant is not free to fulfill his duties any way he wants, rather he or she is given strict instructions in the carrying out of their duties. A steward is someone given freedom to use the available resources in a way they see fit on behalf of their master. 


We can see in the opening statement of the parable the establishment of these stewards. How they are moved from servants to stewards by the action of the master. Let’s look there now, verses 14 and 15. 


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


The servants are called before the master, he entrusts to them his property, according to each’s ability and then he goes away. They have all been tasked with the management of a portion of the master’s property. 

By the way, before studying this passage, I was unimpressed by the numbers here, which is one of the things we have to be aware of when we read the Bible. Because I am so separated from the culture in which Jesus speaks, I always imagined a talent to be a relatively small amount. 

He gave one five dollars, one two dollars, and one a singular dollar. I don’t know why I thought that, but I did. 

This is not the way Jesus’ disciples would have heard it though. A talent is a weight measurement, most often used for gold, silver, or bronze. This is most likely either silver or gold. 

Let’s walk through the math real quick.  A talent is worth about 6,000 denarii. And if you do not remember from a previous parable we studied, a Denarius is about a day’s wages. 

So in all likelihood, we are talking about roughly 20 years wages, 40 years wages, and 100 years of wages. 

In today’s labor rates, calculating a six day work week, we are talking about on the low end $780,000 and on the high end of the five talents around 3.9 million. 

According to this, the master hands these servants somewhere around 6 million dollars to be stewarded while he is away. With that understanding, we can begin to see the gravity of what it means to be a steward in the kingdom.


Have you ever thought about yourself as a steward in the kingdom of God?

The Bible impresses on us over and over again this idea of stewarding. 

We really do not need to look beyond the Great Commission to see this principle. 

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


They were going to receive power from God that would enable them to be witnesses, they were then to steward that gift well in order that Jesus' name might be proclaimed throughout the world.

 

Acts 1:6-8 (ESV) 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”


Again in 1 Timothy, Paul says it this way to his spiritual son. 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (ESV) 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

What is the good deposit? The sound words of truth filled, doctrine.Twice, in each of the two letters we have from Paul to Timothy he tells him the same thing.

1 Timothy 6:20-21 (ESV) 20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.


Again, we are reminded in 1 Corinthians. 

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (ESV) 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

1 Corinthians 14:12 (ESV) 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.


Yes, stewardship involves what we do with our money, obviously. It is not less than money, but it is certainly more than it. 

In the preceding passages, we are commanded to steward the gift of the Holy Spirit well, we are commanded to steward the gift of the Holy Scriptures well, we are commanded to steward our individual spiritual gifting well. 


If you are a blood bought, Christ confessing, son or daughter of the kingdom, you are a steward, who has been entrusted with the most precious gift that God could give. Himself. Through the presence of his spirit and through the inspiration of that same spirit, his word. In giving you these things, he has entrusted you with the message of the kingdom, that God has made salvation available to whoever will call on his name in faith. 


The question Jesus would have us ask ourselves in light of this parable, seems to be to me, how are you doing as a steward for the kingdom? 


In the kingdom of God, every servant is a steward, the second statement is that…


God expects every steward to be faithful. 

Now I know that isn’t an incredibly insightful statement, of course the master desires for his stewards to be faithful. 

But I say that to highlight what the master did not expect. 

The master did not expect every steward to be equal in their labors. 

How do we know that? Because he did not treat them equally. 

This contradicts our modern sensibilities, doesn’t it? I mean aren’t we supposed to treat everyone equally? Shouldn’t everyone get the same treatment, the same opportunities, the same resources?


According to Jesus, in the kingdom of God, not everyone is given equal gifts/resources to steward. The master gave one servant 5, one servant 2, and one servant a single talent. Even when we understand the amount this represents, there is clearly a vast difference between 20 years wages and a 100 years of wages, right?

Having given them unequal resources, he does not expect everyone to labor or produce the same amount. 

How does the Lord decide in the parable how much to give each steward?

The Bible says, according to his ability. Or each pertaining to his own ability. 

The word ability here is dynamis, which is where we get our word dynamite from. The idea is the inherent power contained within something, or in this case, someone. 

The master divided his property among them according to what he knew they could manage, and surprise, he was a pretty good judge of what they could handle. Let’s pick up in verse 16. 


16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 


Each steward had the same opportunity before him. He had been given as much as he could manage, he had the same amount of time as the other two, but we see very different results, don’t we?


Let’s jump ahead for a moment and look at the Master’s reaction to these results by his entrusted servants, (stewards)

20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘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.’ 

Exact same praise and reward for the one with two. 

26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents…30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness…

The master gave the exact same praise and reward for the one who gained 5 talents as the one who gained two. It sounds like he was even prepared to accept the interest on the one talent, if the steward had even bothered depositing the master’s money in the bank. 


It has been noted by another scholar that, according to the master, “this is the very least the slave could have done, [as] to make money in this way required no personal exertion or intelligence" Another notes that “the labor of digging a hole and burying the talent was greater than the labor involved in going to the bankers.”


This adds even more weight to our statement that God expects faithfulness above all else from hsi stewards. He seems to imply that even if the steward had been faithful enough to deposit his money, he would have accepted it. 

What was the standard of judgment? Not amounts of return, but faithfulness towards the master.


Here is what I have found in my life to be generally true. Too often we focus on comparing ourselves to others and their impact for the kingdom that we neglect what we have been entrusted with ourselves. We think if I had that talent, or if I had that gifting, or if I had that resource, I would _________.


Here is the truth, if you are not using the resources you have now for the kingdom, you wouldn’t use anymore, any better. If you are not giving to the kingdom on $50,000 a year, you wouldn’t give on $500,000 a year. 

If you are not using the abilities God has you where you are now, you wouldn’t use them if he called you to Pastor or Lead his church in some capacity. 


God does not expect you to produce what someone else does, but rather that you be faithful with what you have. So the question before you this morning is not what would you do if you had more resources, it is what are you doing with what you DO have?


So far we have seen that In the kingdom of God, every servant is a steward,  that God expects every steward to be faithful, and lastly this morning, we see that…


God evaluates every steward in the end. 

Let’s back up and pick up verse 19 now. 

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


Now after a long time- repeated phrasing and emphasis in these parables. 

The delay in the flood during Noah’s day, the delay in the master’s coming, the delay in the bridegroom’s arrival, the long time the master is gone. 


I believe we are to see this as the time during his ascension and his second coming.

Just because you have gotten away so far mismanaging God’s resources, does not mean that you will forever. 

The flood comes, the master returns, the bridegroom arrives, there is an inevitably in each parable or example Jesus uses to illustrate his second coming. Jesus compares it to settling accounts. 

Literally, the language here is to ‘speak together on a matter’ or ‘to take up a matter together with words’. The master brings his servants to him in order that they may speak together about what they have done in his absence with his resources. 


The situation for our parable is this. By entrusting his resources to his stewards and leaving, the implication was that he would return and would call them to account. The reality is that every servant knew the day was coming, but only two actually lived like it mattered. 

Let’s go back and look at how this conversation went between the three stewards and their master. 

 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘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.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘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.’

Two of the servants come before their master and say Look, you gave me some of your resources, and I have made more from them. 

What is the master’s response to both? 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. 

How would you like to work for someone who thought a couple of million was being set over a little!?

So they settle accounts, the master is pleased, the servants are rewarded, and together they go into the celebration feast at his return. 

But one settling went much differently, didn’t it?


24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.

Similar to Adam in the garden, this man blames the master for his rebellion. 

I was afraid that if I lost it, you would be mad, and if I earned more, you would take it, either way, it is unfair, so I just hid it. ‘Here, take what is yours and leave me alone’.

I didn’t want it, I didn’t use it, and you can have it back. 

What is the implication? ‘I don’t want anything to do with you or anything you own.’

Not only has this servant proved that he is not a steward, but he’s not even a servant. He is a rebel.  


Don’t miss this. The servant's refusal to steward what was given to him by the master is evaluated by the master as wickedness and grievousness. The word slothful here can mean slacking, but it is also used by Paul to mean grievous. I think it would be wise to think in both terms. 

If good is contrasted with wicked, then faithful is contrasted with slothful. One pleased the master by showing that he was faithful or diligent to use what he had entrusted to him. 

The other grieved the master by showing that he was slothful or too lazy to use what he had entrusted to him. 

His answer also reveals what he thinks about the master. 

In the parable so far, we see a generous, trusting master, willing to put his resources in the hands of his servants, according to their ability, literally setting them up for success. 

Neither of the other servants imply anything other than they are happy to have benefited such a benevolent and good master. 

But this third one, he views the master as hard, harsh or rough, and that he was generally unfair by profiting off the labors of others. Nevermind the fact that it was the master’s resources in the first place. He has a distorted view of the master and it leads to a failure to steward the resources entrusted to him. Ultimately, for the master, this proves that this servant is no servant to him and he has him stripped of the singular talent he has received and has this worthless servant  cast out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

He is shut out of the ark, he is put to death by the returning master of the house, he is excluded from the wedding feast, he is put out of the presence of the master. 

This is undoubtedly and unequivocally a reference to the eternal judgment of those who reject Christ. 


With that, Jesus draws our attention shockingly to the reality that if we do not and will not live in obedience to his commands, in this case by stewarding what has been provided for the kingdom, we prove that we are not one of his. 


It has often been said that you inspect what you expect. 

According to scripture, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 

Romans 14:10-12 (ESV) For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Matthew 12:36-37 (ESV) 6 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 16:27 (ESV) 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

1 Peter 4:4-5 (ESV) 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.


God expects his people, who have been given the gift of his spirit, his power, to be people who use their words for him, who use what they do for him, who spend their lives for him and his kingdom.  We know this is what he expects, because Jesus says it will be what he inspects. 


According to scripture, every person on earth is a steward of God’s resources, because he owns it all and he will one day call every man and woman to give an account of what they did with it, how they spent their lives.


Now, I must say this to make sure that no one misunderstands me. In no way, through any effort of our own, do we ever earn our way into heaven. On that the Bible is clear. 

But in the same way, again and again, the Scriptures seem to imply that salvation changes us and those that are changed, live differently. One of the evidences of that transformation is our kingdom stewardship. What we do with the time, talents, and treasures God has given us on this side of heaven. What I believe Jesus shows us here in this parable, is what we do with them reveals what we truly think about God. 

Either we believe him to be a good and loving master, who we gladly serve, whose resources we wisely spend for his kingdom, or we believe him to be a harsh and rough master, who we reject, whose resources we either bury or worse, we spend on ourselves. 


Here is where I want to land. 

If you knew that the master, Jesus, was coming back this evening, would you live differently today?

If it changes anything in how you would spend your time, how you would spend your money, how you would use your resources, you might need to reevaluate the way you are living. 


There is coming a day when we will all have to stand before God.

As stewards, who have been entrusted with what is the masters, according to our ability. 

Who will be found either good and faithful, or as wicked and slothful.

Either welcomed into his joy or cast out of his presence. 


Let us pray. 






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