2thingstoteach_blog

2 Things to Teach your Church from the Parable of the Talents

Have you heard a sermon on the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? Odds are that you have. Or, if you’re a pastor reading this right now, maybe you’ve even preached on this several times!

This popular parable is packed with valuable principles and lessons for each of us! At the core of it all, we learn what it means to be obedient and faithful. And while it’s a great one to teach to your congregation, it’s often sugarcoated in churches. Here are two examples of what I mean:

Example 1:We place emphasis on the master’s response to the obedient servants (“Well done good and faithful servant, enter into your master’s happiness!”) and avoid the master’s response to the disobedient servant (“You wicked and lazy servant, depart from me where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”)

Example 2: We focus on what the servants did with the coins (investing them vs. burying them) rather than focusing on the servants’ heart and beliefs about their master (trustworthy and faithful vs. harsh and fearful).

It’s not wrong to celebrate faithfulness and encourage good financial practices like investing. But we lose the power of this parable when we avoid addressing the consequences of disobedience and a heart paralyzed by fear.

Don’t water down the sobering realities revealed in the parable of the talents. After all, the Truth has the power to transform hearts through the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Instead, like a velvet hammer, bring the Truth in love. Just like the age old saying goes, “truth without love is harsh, but love without truth is a lie.”

You don’t have to sugarcoat this parable, just rethink your approach to teaching on obedience as it is revealed in the parable of the talents. With that, here are 2 fresh ideas to consider sharing in your congregations:

Point 1. Focus on what’s in your hands.

In Matthew 25:14, the Master gives His servants varying amounts of coins. What’s important to note here is that the servant who received 2 talents didn’t go and try to invest 5 talents. And the servant who received 5 talents didn’t go and try to invest anymore than he had. The one with 2 invested and multiplied his 2, and the one with 5 invested and multiplied his 5.

God wants us to understand that as the Master, He is the Owner. Like the servants in this story, we are His managers. God decides what is placed in our hands. Therefore, we should not look at what we don’t have.

God wants us to understand that as the Master, He is the Owner. Like the servants in this story, we are His managers. God decides what is placed in our hands. Therefore, we should not look at what we don’t have.

If we have 2 coins but we try to live like we’re ready to invest 5, we’re in big trouble. This breeds a lack of contentment and impatience. It can also breed self sufficiency, trying to multiply things in our own way, apart from the Master. Not only that, if we look at what we don’t have, we are tempted to look at what our brothers and sisters in Christ are holding in their hands over our own. We compare our 2 coins to some else’s 5. Warn your congregation that this only leads us down a path of disobedience and destruction. Warn them that the instruction is clear. Each of us is entrusted uniquely with a specific amount. And the Lord does this on purpose. He can only trust us with a small amount until we prove faithful. He wants to see what you will do with what He has given you before He gives you more. We must prove to be trustworthy with what treasure God has entrusted us with. Therefore, faithfulness indicates obedience vs. disobedience.

Point 2. Examine your root system.

It’s important that we multiply and invest God’s treasure accordingly, just like we see in the parable of the talents. After all, the difference between multiplying and investing coins and burying coins is huge. But rather than focusing on the behaviors/practices of each servant represented in this story, we must look at the deeper underlying root issues and see the call to examine our own hearts.

I think we forget that the servant who disobeyed knew deep down that the right thing to do was to multiply and invest the coins that he was given. This reveals to us that our heart posture and what we believe about the Master deeply affects our ability to obey God or disobey God.

This reveals to us that our heart posture and what we believe about the Master deeply affects our ability to obey God or disobey God.

The servant who buried the coins says that he believed the master to be a harsh man, and he feared him. So he took matters into his own hands, and out of a heart filled with fear, he went and hid the treasure. His actions reflect a deeper sentiment, one that I believe (in my own creative license) sounds like this — “God, I don’t believe you are a trustworthy master. I don’t believe you are faithful. I don’t believe you will provide. So I’m becoming the owner now. I’m taking matters into my own hands. My survival depends on it.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We don’t want to admit it, but there are days and months in our lives where our hearts towards God look more like the disobedient servant than we desire to admit.

We don’t want to admit it, but there are days and months in our lives where our hearts towards God look more like the disobedient servant than we desire to admit.

If our heart is filled with fear, we will live from a scarcity mindset. And if we live from a scarcity mindset, we will grip tightly the coins that God’s placed in our hands. And we will bury them.

This can lead us down a path of disobedience and destruction. A path that is filled with lies. Lies that tell us we can only trust in ourselves, and that the master is not trustworthy. That He will not provide, or even worse, that God does not care because He is a “harsh” master. This is where fear can get a grip on our hearts. And the consequences are devastating. They lead toward death and despair. They lead us away from Christ.

 

Let’s not sugarcoat these important concepts. Instead, let’s bring them to people in a real, authentic way. Focusing on what we have been given by God protects us from envy and greed. Examining our root system and checking our hearts protects us from false views of God and taking ownership of His treasure. Teach your congregation to focus on what is in their hands and help your congregation examine their root system. Go beyond the behaviors and deal with the heart issues that keep us from faithfulness.

Lauren France
Director of Stewardship at | lauren@securegive.com

In her role overseeing stewardship at SecureGive, Lauren equips local churches to effectively communicate generosity and grow giving through discipleship. She coaches ministry staff, writes content, and develops resources that help churches create a culture of generosity for sustainable and lasting financial health. Prior to SecureGive, Lauren served within a multisite church stewardship ministry engaging 10,000+ people and worked 5+ years in nonprofit development.

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