As our parable continues, we find that as our character is being developed while all along God isn’t focusing on the content of our bank account, but the…
CONTENT of our hearts. The prime biblical example I always think of is when Samuel was sent to crown a king after King Saul failed—Saul had every external quality—but lacked the right content of heart—it was in David, the youngest, smallest, and most overlooked that God choose to work. Let’s pick up in Matthew 25: 22-23— 22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, 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!’
Now think about this in comparison to the 1st servant that we were introduced to with servant #2. The second servant in line provides 60% less overall. 4 bags in comparison to 10 bags leaves a little to be desired if we are judging based on the bottom line alone. Yet this exercise was never about net worth, but about highlighting worthiness. He is trying to see the content of his heart, rather than just the content of his bank account. In fact, there is a magnification that sets in, that what happens in the small and seemingly insignificant has ramifications in the eternal and absolutely significant. You may never have a million dollars, or have a black American express card, but God reminds us that you have the choice daily to be faithful with what you have been given.It is the very thing that happened as Jesus watched a women with almost nothing walk into the temple—despite all that she didn’t have, God was watching how faithful she would be with what she did have—As she dropped her two copper coins into the treasury he said, “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
You can never out give God, you are never giving God something that isn’t already his, but each time your behavior reflects your beliefs, each time you faithfully give, serve, and support it is barometer of your heart. Eric Johnson, a filmmaker, put the entire idea of stewardship into focus: “It is when someone gives you something you don’t deserve and can’t afford that things come with an incredible amount of responsibility. You could lock it away in a closet, and say, ‘Okay, I’m going to just use it up until it is irrelevant, but then what?’”
The Bible helps us see the contrast between what we deserve and can afford versus what we have been given. (1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. Wages is an economic/employment term we are used to—your work and my work through sin comes with no benefits or vacation time—only death—when what we have been gifted through Christ’s death on the cross is eternal life. The GREAT EXCHANGE is totally out of balance. If we’ve been given more than you deserve, more than you can earn, how can we not become greater stewards in response.
Don Carson, the great New Testament scholar from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, tells the story of one of his colleagues who was a foster parent. He and his wife would take children into their home and keep them until they could be placed permanently in other loving homes. And one day he received a call from the agency. And the agency said, “We want you to keep two twin boys.” And he and his wife said, “We’ve never kept twins before. How old are they, and how long are we going to keep them?” “Well, they’re 18 months old. And we’d like for you to keep them for just 6 weeks. “OK. As long as it’s just for six weeks, send them on over.” It turned out that those little boys had been in 9 different homes in their first 18 months. And they had been severely abused in most of them. The first night they put the little boys down, they didn’t make a sound. Perry and his wife were curious. They went into the room and they found the boys in the bed weeping uncontrollably but muffling the sound of their cries into the pillow, because in some of the previous homes where they had stayed, they had been beaten when they cried. The psychologist told them that these children would never, ever be psychologically and emotionally normal and whole. They were forever affected by this experience. Two years later a home was found for those twins. And the social worker who provided the psychological analysis before the boys were sent on to their new home said that, “Inexplicably and miraculously those boys were now normal, having experienced the love of a family that cared.” It was a 2 year investment, but it was stewardship at it’s best!
For those foster parents—saying yes to God and DCSF was an intentional choice—just like each Sunday we face a choice about how we will approach God. I remember the first time I got a “big boy job” out of college—Sunday morning would roll around and I’d go through a little act with God—I’d be sitting there during the service when—suddenly out of the blue—(as marked in the bulletin, on the overhead, and as preempted by a prayer, like every Sunday before) the offering plate would come around. They had given me a chance to express my thankfulness…I’d fumble for my wallet, and throw in a few bills as if I was propping up God, forgetting that he daily propped up my sinful and deflated self. It hit me this week as I was herding Samuel to the lady at the bank who always so thoughtfully gives him a sucker to say Thank-you—that I haven’t always put in the same effort to say Thank-you to the one who gave me a new life. Doesn’t that seem crazy? Don’t allow your opportunity to express gratitude be a grab and go surprise. This week, why not pray through your giving—a giving of your time, talent, and treasures. Some of you are gifted at giving money—others maybe your gift is opening your home—maybe you’re blessed with the ability to build others up—each area is an opportunity to give in gratitude of the God of generosity.