Unpacking the Mission

What can we learn from messages about stewardship found in the bible?

George Wright
Feb 9, 2020    39m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright teaches us from messages of stewardship found in the bible. He uses these passages of scripture to help us look inside ourselves and ask, are we being good stewards of the gift of the gospel? Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Let me encourage you now to grab your Bible, and we are going to start in First Corinthians chapter 4, and then very quickly turn our attention to Matthew chapter 25. So if you have your Bible, you might want to mark those two places, that's where we're going to be today. If you don't have a Bible with you, we'd love for you to grab one of the Bibles in the pews, they're all around the room. And we would strongly encourage you to go ahead and grab one, so that you can see for yourself what the Word of God is saying. Don't take our word for it, read for yourself what the scripture says, as we walk through this time together.

George Wright: 00:32 We're continuing in our series that has really been focused on the heart of why we do what we do as a church. This is all about our mission. February is what we call Live Sent month around here, where we're reminded of the ways God is at work among us, to take the message of the gospel beyond the walls of the church. And we're so thankful for our ministry partners, and those who are involved in sharing the love of God beyond the walls. Today is we turn our attention to the scripture. We are seeing that this mission that God has called us to, really is an issue of stewardship. Will we be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us?

George Wright: 01:23 And so we start with First Corinthians 4 I'd like to invite you, if you're willing and able, to stand with me. So that we can be reminded as we stand all around the room, that the Word of God is the foundation under our feet as a people of God. It's the authority that we come under when we gather in the name of Jesus Christ. And it is the Word of God that reveals to us what is right and good and true. So this is the word of the Lord. First Corinthians 4, it says this, "This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy." Turn to your neighbor on your right and your left, and ask them this question. Are you trustworthy? Do that now. Are you trustworthy? And you can go ahead and be seated, thank you for standing.

George Wright: 02:35 Are you trustworthy? Are we trustworthy? God has entrusted to us a tremendous treasure for the people of God, for those who are followers of Jesus Christ. We talked about this last week, we have been given this gift that we call the gospel. The gospel is the good news of what God has done for us, that we could never do for ourselves. The gospel is the message of what Christ has done, that Jesus lived a perfect life in the flesh on earth, a life without sin, that he gave that life as the perfect sacrifice for our sin at the cross. And then through his resurrection, he defeated sin and death once and for all, inviting us into the gift of new life that is found in Christ alone. The good news of the gospel, this treasure that has been entrusted to the people of God, to the church of Jesus Christ. Will we be found trustworthy? Are we faithful stewards of what God has entrusted to us?

George Wright: 04:04 Really, this is what our mission statement is all about as a church. I'm going to put this on the screen again, we've been talking about this a lot. Our mission here at Shandon is to Live Sent, to leverage who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us. This is an issue of stewardship. When we think about what God has entrusted to us, will we be faithful stewards, trustworthy stewards, of this beautiful treasure? Stewardship is an issue of honoring the one who has given a gift. Stewardship is all about honoring the one who has entrusted to us something that we never could have earned, achieved, or deserved on our own. The dictionary, Webster's Dictionary defines stewardship this way; the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. So here's the question, how do we steward the gospel? How do we steward this mission that God has entrusted to us as his church?

George Wright: 05:40 When you think about stewarding the mission, I would say it starts with a reorientation of our perspective. For a steward must first recognize that all that he or she has is a gift, it is not a gift to hide or to hoard, it is a gift to share, a gift that demands a return on investment. It's a gift to be used for the glory of the giver. A steward of the mysteries of God looks at their life through the lens of what I would call gospel opportunity. They look at where they live, they look at what they've been given, they look at their talents and abilities and resources through the lens of gospel opportunity. And they ask the question, how can I use who I am, and use what has been given specifically to me for the sake of the gospel, right where I am right now and wherever God takes me as his follower? Will we be stewards of the mysteries of God? Your gifts, your talents, your opportunities, your relationships, your resources have all been entrusted to you by God, by the giver of good gifts, so that you can actively be engaged in the mission. So that you can actively leverage who you are and what you've been given for the sake of the gospel.

George Wright: 07:16 But please don't miss this, we're going to see this as we turn our attention to Matthew 25, our stewardship is not the same. The opportunity to be a faithful steward is the same for all who are in Christ, but the way we carefully and responsibly manage what has been entrusted to us is different. You have gifts that I don't have. You have resources that others don't have. You have abilities that your neighbor may not have. Leverage who you are, and what you've been given, will look different for each individual follower of Christ. But the call to stewardship is the same, all followers of Jesus have been called to live a life of trustworthy stewardship, that points to the mysteries of God revealed in this beautiful gospel.

George Wright: 08:17 With this in mind, I want us to turn now to Matthew 25. Because Matthew 25 is a beautiful parable of Jesus that speaks to this idea of stewardship specifically as it relates to the mission of God for his people. Those of you who are not familiar with the parables of Jesus, parables of Jesus are stories that Jesus told to communicate a deep theological truth in a way that the listener can understand. The way I like to view the parables is this is Jesus putting the cookies on the bottom shelf. Okay? We've got a tall pantry in our kitchen. And Megan and I have learned that if there is a good dessert, or a good cookie, or something covered in chocolate, it better go on the top shelf where it's really hard for our kids to reach. Because they're always trying to steal it, right? But Jesus in his love and in his grace towards you and me, speaks in such a way as the master storyteller to reveal deep theological truths in a way that even you and I can understand, he puts the cookies on the bottom shelf. And this parable reveals this beautiful, deep theological truth, but it does so in a way that the parable really preaches itself.

George Wright: 09:47 This story is so clear, and so easy to understand to whoever will listen, he who has ears let him hear. Matthew 25 verse 14, Jesus says, "For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away." I want to stop the story here just for a moment, because there's something that stands out in the setup or the introduction of this parable. What stands out? All these servants are not given the same amount. They all do not have the same size talent. And when we read that, what does that cause us to conclude? Well, this is not fair, right? Parents, if you have more than one child, I know you've heard that statement many times. This is not fair, his ice creams bigger. He got more than I got. Why did they get to do that? And I don't get to do that. Why did they have new shoes and I don't? Why did they get to do this, and I don't get to do that. It's not fair. Here's a statement that we use in our household, I've said it countless times to our children when they start to talk about things that are not fair. The statement is this, fairness ended in the garden. Right guys? Anna Beth's rolling her eyes at me right now. Fairness ended in the garden. Guess what? Since the introduction of sin into the world through Adam and Eve, life has not been fair. But can I just remind us all, you don't want what you deserve. If the Bible tells us anything, the Bible shows us, you do not want what your sin deserves. And we want fairness as it relates to the way other people treat us. But when we view God, what we want, what we desperately need, is grace and mercy. Fairness ended in the garden, but God in his grace, invites us to receive that which we don't deserve.

George Wright: 12:17 And here in this parable, it may look like things are not fair. It may look like the one who has five, guys, he has so much more opportunity. So of course he can leverage his life, and he can leverage what he's been given for the sake of the mission. But I just have one talent, so I don't know if I can do anything, I don't know if I can make an impact. Please don't miss the point, the point of this parable is not on the distribution of the talent, and how much each one is given. The point of the parable is about what is done with that which is received. Jesus wants us to stop and to consider that stewardship is not just about what's been entrusted to us, stewardship is actually about what we do with what's been entrusted to us. That's important. It's so easy for us to look around at others and go, well, yeah, I mean he's got more opportunity, so of course that's the way he's living. But I don't have that opportunity, I don't have that gift, I don't have that ability. Hold on now, Jesus is asking us to stop and consider what has been entrusted to you. Stewardship is about what we do with what has been entrusted to us.

George Wright: 13:48 There's another parable of Jesus in Luke 12, stay in Matthew 25, I'll just put this on the screen. Luke 12 verse 48, Jesus says this, "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." So Jesus is saying, look, I want you to think about stewardship here in the realm of what has been entrusted to you personally, and recognize that there is accountability when it comes to stewardship. How will you use what has been entrusted to your care?

George Wright: 14:27 We go back to Matthew 25, the parable and pick up in verse 16 where we left off. It says, "He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money." Three servants that receive different amounts, all given the same opportunity to steward what has been entrusted to them, to leverage who they are and what they've been given. Two are seen as stewards, and one is described a very different way.

George Wright: 15:19 To that end. I want to let this parable speak for itself. And so I want to read the remaining bulk of this teaching of Jesus, and listen to how beautifully told this story is. Let the teaching of Jesus teach and instruct our heart. Matthew 25 verse 19 it says, "Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 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.’ 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.’ 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.’ 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.’ 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, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 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? 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."

George Wright: 17:41 We'll stop there, what a powerful, powerful story. The message of this parable is clear, this is a parable about stewardship. Two servants model stewardship, two servants leverage what has been entrusted to them using the gifts and abilities entrusted to them, to make the most of the opportunity that was laid before them. They bring a return on investment to the master. And this is so important, please don't miss this, there is the blessing of God on the life of those who serve him. I don't want to create confusion here, I'm not talking about a prosperity gospel where if you do the right things and say the right things and pray the right prayers, that that God's going to give you everything you want. The front row of the parking spaces will always be open for you, and the new car will just arrive in your driveway. That's not what I'm saying at all, but running all throughout the scripture, please don't miss this, is this principle of God's blessing on the lives of those who serve him. He doesn't want you to miss this. He wants you experience his blessing, he wants you to know that he is with you, that he is at work through you. And there is no greater joy than being in the service of the master, enter into the joy of your master. Well done, good and faithful servant, is a powerful statement. What a great statement to hear. It is my prayer in God's provision, in God's Providence, that there are many years ahead of faithful and fruitful ministry in my life, but I don't know how many years I will be given. It is my prayer that no matter how many years it is, when my time of ministry comes to an end, when my time of stewardship in this life comes to an end, the words that I will hear from God are, well done, good and faithful servant. Is that a prayer of your heart? Is that a statement that you long to hear?

George Wright: 20:35 Because you see, there is a third servant in this story who is very different. A servant who was also given an opportunity, but instead of responding in faith, how does he respond? He responds in fear. He does nothing with what has been laid before him, he does nothing with the opportunity that has been placed in his hands. And what does the master say? You wicked and slothful servant. And that's hard to hear, but don't we understand that? I mean after all aren't the stories of wasted opportunity, the most frustrating stories to hear? You know, the college recruit that comes in as a five star to save the program, and he's the best player that the nation's ever seen. And he's coming to the school, and he's going to step up and change the whole culture. And then something happens and he fizzles out and nothing really comes of all that potential. The number one draft pick, who is the best player that anyone has ever seen, who gets this crazy signing bonus and is making millions of dollars. And the millions of dollars go to his head before he ever sees the field, and what was this promising career opportunity becomes comes a story of shipwreck. The young rock star or actor who takes the world by storm, and seems to have all that the world offers at their fingertips, and the sky's the limit into all that they can accomplish. But then the trappings of the world get the best of them, and they are brought down in humiliation, and never amount to much of anything at all. The stories of the son or the daughter that inherit great wealth, and instead of leveraging what's been entrusted to them to continue the legacy that was built in their family, they squander what has been entrusted to them in frivolous living and all of those resources just go to waste on foolish things. We hear these stories, and it's frustrating. We hear these stories, and at times they can even be disgusting, or it can make you angry. I mean, how in the world could you waste such a golden opportunity? How in the world could you squander away all that has been entrusted to you, these heartbreaking stories of what could have been and yet never was.

George Wright: 23:24 Please don't miss this, there are stories like this that run rampant all throughout the church. There's stories like this of churches that once were in a heyday, and in fear turn inward and squander away everything that the Lord has provided an opportunity to reach their community, to the points where those churches are no longer relevant at all. There is story after story after story in pretty much every church, of people who have been presented the gospel over and over and over again, who have all the resources that one could desire at their fingertips, every opportunity to leverage who they are and what they've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever they are and wherever God takes them. And yet, there is no fruit to display God at work at all in their life. Stories of wasted opportunity, so much opportunity for kingdom impact. But one gets sidetracked by fear, one gets sidetracked by self-centered motivations, one misses out on the opportunity to steward what God has entrusted to us. So the question this parable raises for all of us, is what will be said of us when it comes to the talent entrusted to us by the master. Will we hear, well done good and faithful servant. Will we hear you have been trustworthy with the mysteries of God, or will we hear you wicked slothful servant, who squandered the opportunity that was entrusted to you.

George Wright: 26:06 We conclude this parable and a very sobering manner. I know, this is a sobering story. Listen to what Jesus says about the one who does nothing with what has been entrusted to them. This just might be the most sobering of all of Jesus' teachings. Matthew 25:28 and following, "So take the talent from him (the one who had one and did nothing with it) and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." And then listen to what Jesus says, "And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Jesus is saying, God's hand of blessing is on those who are faithful stewards, and there will be fruit that reveals their stewardship. Jesus is saying here that those who have no fruit of faithfulness, no fruit of stewardship, will not experience his blessing. His hand, it will be removed from them. Now remember, please, this is not about the amount of talent given, or the size of the opportunity. This is about faithfulness to steward the talent entrusted to us, and to make the most of the opportunity that God has provided. No matter who we are, no matter what we have, everyone has been given an invitation into stewardship. Everyone has been given an opportunity to leverage who we are, and what we've been given. For the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us. Will we make the most of the opportunity. It's heavy. It's meant to be heavy. It's sobering. It's meant to be sobering. What will we do with what God has entrusted to us?

George Wright: 28:55 As I close this morning, I want to pose a little different question, a question that I feel I come straight out of this parable. It's a question that we should rustle with. And the question is this, what do you do if you stop and honestly look at your life and realize there's no fruit? What do you do if you are living in such a way that you are wasting the opportunity that has been given to you in the good news of the gospel? To answer that question. I want to turn to another one of Jesus' parables very quickly. This is my favorite personal parable, or personally my favorite parable, let me say that, that Jesus tells, This is a parable you may be familiar with. It's the parable of the prodigal son, Luke 15, you may want to turn there. This story is beautiful, it is incredible, but it starts off in a very difficult way. It is a parable of wasted opportunity. A son who has given everything by his father, wastes all that he has been given. He has tremendous opportunity, he squanders it all. And when the money is gone, and his party friends disappear, this son finds himself working and living in a pig farm, which is the lowest of the low in good Jewish culture. His life and his opportunity has been totally and completely wasted, and he has nothing to show for what he has been given. What does he do?

George Wright: 30:59 Jesus says, in Luke 15, he began to come to himself, and when he realized he had wasted everything that he had been given, he said, okay, I'm going to go home. Luke 15:18 he said, "I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father." Don't miss this, "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." This son who has squandered everything, this son who had wasted the opportunity that had been given to him, this son who could not be called trustworthy, this son who could only be called wicked and slothful, this son, is embraced in a hug. And he's given a kiss by a perfect, loving, gracious father that welcomes him home, not based on what he deserves, but based upon the very gift that has been entrusted to him in the love of the father. "The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate."

George Wright: 33:09 What do you do when you look at your life, and realize there is no fruit of faithful stewardship? What do you do when you look at your life, and realize you've been living in such a way that you have wasted the opportunity that has been given to you in the good news of the gospel? When you realize you have wasted an opportunity to be a servant of the most high God, you confess, and you return. You acknowledge your need for the savior, and you return to the savior who welcomes you with open arms. Please hear this, don't waste another moment, God is waiting with open arms to welcome you in in his love and grace. This is what the gospel is all about, and when this grabs a hold of our heart, we begin to live in such a way that we want to leverage all that we are, and leverage all that we've been given for the sake of this gospel that invited us in when we did not deserve a home. And this son, who at best, at best deserves to be called a lowly wicked servant, is instead called a son, because of the grace of God.

George Wright: 34:50 You may be here today feeling totally unworthy or unqualified, there is grace and mercy for all who acknowledge their need for the savior and turn and trust in him. You may be here today having been in church for years, and yet there is no fruit of stewardship in your life. There is grace and mercy for you. Trust in the good news of the gospel, and leverage who you are, and leverage what you've been given, that you certainly don't deserve, for the sake of this gospel wherever you are and wherever God takes you. So the good news that you receive, can be seen and experienced by others who need to experience the grace of God. This is our mission. Are you trustworthy? What will the master say to us, as it relates to stewardship in what he has entrusted to us?

George Wright: 36:11 Let's pray. Heavenly father, I am so very grateful that you do not give us what we deserve in our sin. You do not treat us as our sin deserves, but time after time after time in your patience, in your compassion, in your mercy, in your grace, you offer us this beautiful gift of forgiveness. And say, come on back home, let me remind you of who I am and what I've done, and let that fill you to go into the world with the beautiful, good news of the gospel. I pray, Lord, that that would be true of us. That we would be counted as faithful, that we would be called trustworthy as it relates to the mysteries of God. That we would be a church, and that we would be a people, who are so overwhelmed with that, that we have received that we can't help but live in such a way to leverage our lives for the sake of this gospel. Use us for your glory, this is my prayer. And for those who are with us listening to this message today, who recognize, Lord God, that they have never experienced this beautiful gospel in a personal way. There is no fruit of stewardship in their life, because they have never trusted their life to the savior, to Jesus. I pray that today would be the day where they would receive this invitation, receive this gift of grace, this good news of what Christ has done. I pray, Lord God, they would trust in you in faith, and experience the forgiveness of their sin and the new life that comes in Christ, and Lord, I pray that you would use that new life for your glory. Oh, how we thank you for the gift of salvation. Let us be a people who leverage this gift for your glory, that more and more see and experience the good news of Jesus Christ in us. Thank you for the challenge of your word, and for the grace that comes with the challenge. It's in Christ' name we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206