For church this morning, I went to what I call (accurately or inaccurately) the “Word of Faith” church. It had a guest speaker, who is a missionary to Brazil. He was preaching about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. See here to read the parable.
Here are some points that were made at this morning’s service:
A. The missionary said that we have to sow according to the vision that God has given us. He told a story about a Christian man who owned a restaurant. The restaurant became prosperous and employed a lot of young people, but the busy hours kept them away from youth group. The restaurant owner talked to the missionary and said that he would donate a lot of his profits to the missionary’s church, but the missionary gently answered no. That angered the restaurant owner, but the restaurant owner later reflected on what the missionary said and let his employees take time off to go to youth group. The restaurant still thrived.
B. The sermon was primarily about stewardship: how do we manage what God has given us? This includes money, but it also includes our emotions, the words that we say, and our responsibilities towards our loved ones. Do parents blame God for their rebellious teenagers, as the unprofitable servant blamed God in vv 24-25, or do they pray for their teenagers? Money still came up, of course. After the sermon, the pastor talked about giving to a charity that helped Ukrainian widows get houses and jobs. He mentioned others who had vision, such as a couple who started a marriage seminar at the church. He was saying that we can give to God, and stand back and see what God does with what we gave.
C. The missionary highlighted vv 21, 23: the master said that the profitable servants were faithful in a few things. He talked about a time when he only had a few cents in his pocket. I don’t remember how the story ended, but his point was that God can bless the little that we give.
D. A young man got up and gave a testimony. He said that he diligently tithed, but God prompted him to give a little more. He stepped out in obedience, and his income increased the more that he gave. He said that he was not offering this as financial advice, but rather was highlighting God’s faithfulness. It is interesting to note, though, that, as he earned more, he gave more.
In terms of my reactions, the Parable of the Talents is not a beloved parable of mine, since God comes across as harsh in that parable. The missionary actually admitted that a couple of times! Plus, I am in a period of saving: I try to hold on to what I can. I do not plan to change that after writing this post, at least not yet. Still, the service this morning highlighted a compelling theme, about using what God has given us to make a positive difference in the world.