Talents & Fear...Fear & Talents
1 Peter 4:7-11
2 Timothy 2:8-13
A bit of review is in order at the beginning of today’s sermon
Last week, I gave a message on stewardship
“the job of supervising or taking care of something, such as an organization or property”
stewardship involves more than money
Our being God’s stewards is BIBLICAL
servant was responsible for the master’s property…and the servant was accountable to the master
Our gifts: The time, talents and treasure he gifts us with on a daily basis
Stewards are called to renew and transform as guided by the Holy Spirit
We have open spots on our Administrative Board
We need to give our current leaders a break
Before they leave their posts…and this church…as broken people
“Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.” -Luke 12:48b (CEB)
This week, the theme is Talents…giving of our talents to be better stewards of God’s church
And I begin by asking you to leave your preconceived notions at the door
You say that you have none? I say that you do, we all do…else we would agree on everything
Of course, you could be the one who is always right…but I digress…
I ask you to rid yourself of any preconceived notions you might have about other people
Let’s take a moment to silently pray together for this…
Now I ask you to rid yourself of any preconceived notions you might have about yourself
Like how you are not good enough…or maybe too good
Like your faith is not strong enough…or is stronger than anyone else you know
The only perception of yourself that matters is God’s…and you will learn what it is one day
Let’s take a moment to silently pray together for this…
Now that our perception plates are clear, let’s talk about God!
The stereotypical perception of God is two-fold
The God of the Old Testament is harsh and exacting…His way or the highway…old covenant
While the God of the New Testament…Jesus…is somewhat less than harsh and exacting
In fact, his New Covenant begins with his taking the penalty for all of us sinful stewards
He freed us from the bondage of sin, and fully forgave us…complete redemption
Love is all that matters…even when things get messy and gray…love wins!
Let’s look at the third servant in today’s Gospel story…the one who buried his talent
By burying his talent, he missed an opportunity to help build the kingdom
Why did he bury is talent? The answer is quite interesting and gives us some insight…
He buried his talent because he was afraid of failing…he feared judgement of his failing
My friends, the fear of failure prevents progress
God did not give us these gifts we call talents to keep them wrapped up for safe keeping
God gave many of us spouses as gifts…would you wrap up or bury a spouse for safe keeping?
God gave us these gifts to be used…to multiply what we have so that we have more to share
That whole love one another thing!
God is not going to judge us harshly for an honest attempt…for trying something for a noble cause
We can now see that the third servant was not judged for his failure
He he was judged for his fear
There is a lesson here, my friends
Judgement for fear will be much more harsh than judgement for failure
How many times are we told in the Bible not to fear…365!
God is not pleased when we do not try to do what we can
When we do not use our talents, we missed an opportunity to make a difference
What then are these gifts and talents of which we speak?
Clearly, there are many gifts needed to get through life…to make progress for God’s kingdom
Combinations of gifts are needed to make progress toward communal perfection
After all…can you successfully build a house with only a screwdriver? Not so much…
You also cannot build a church with only a pastor and a couple of congregants
It’s the combination of all of our gifts that bring us those times we all crave
The gifts of the Spirit, as defined by the United Methodist Church are as follows:
ADMINISTRATION, APOSTLESHIP, COMPASSION, DISCERNMENT, EVANGELISM, EXHORTATION, FAITH, GIVING,
HEALING, HELPING, INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES, KNOWLEDGE, LEADERSHIP, MIRACLES, PROPHECY, SERVANTHOOD, SHEPHERDING, TEACHING, TONGUES, and WISDOM
Some of these gifts, you know you have
Others…not so much
If you are so moved to determine your gifts, please use the website on the handout
One hint if you find yourself about to take the assessment…Be yourself, without preconceived notions
Answer the questions QUICKLY…try not to think about them
Answer the way you want to…not the way your life would have you dictate
You will get a truer picture of your gifts if you do
We are told to be generous with what God has given you…passing it around so that all will see your light
That way, God’s bright presence will be evident to all you encounter
You couldn’t do nearly as much without God’s help!
God will receive all the credit, justly, as he supplied the gifts
Your light will be shining brightly!
And God will perform encores through you…until the end of time
If we all share of our gifts freely, we will see the synergistic effects upon the world we live in
The net effect will be more than a simple sum of the part that we each contribute
It will be a light that will be undeniable in its power to attract others to the kingdom of God
Because, in reality, God is the only one who can do it all by himself
As I wind down this morning, I want to get back to fear and the fear of using our gifts
There are only two possible outcomes from using these gifts from God…success or failure
If we allow fear to control us, we know the outcome…failure, due to buried gifts
Again, God gave you these gifts…God wants you to use these gifts…they are the key to loving one another
A different perspective on gifts…The issue is not how much of which gift we might have been given, the issue is how well we use what we have been given
Hiding your gifts because it is lesser than another is a sin
We all know how to sing…We all don’t know how to sing like Pavarotti …but we can all sing!
And when we all sing together, it sounds pretty good…better than any one of us!
1 Peter 4:10 tells us “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”
Said another way…Love one another as if your life depended on it…because it does…on Judgement day!
How will you answer God when he asks what you did with your talents…did you invest them in life…or did you bury them out of fear?
Paul’s life is an example of using your gifts to the fullest
2 Timothy 2:10 reads: “Therefore, I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”
It is possible that no one person ever put themselves out there as fully as did Paul
He used all of his gifts, and all of his strength, for the sake of the Good News of Jesus Christ
Paul feared nothing more than God’s judgement that he had not done all that he could for the Kingdom…for the winning of souls to the cause of Jesus Christ
And he remained faithful to the cause of the Gospel until the end of his life
Writer Bill Peel puts it this way about the steward we know as Jesus of Nazareth: “Jesus was the ultimate steward. He did not accumulate power or gifts or talents for himself, but gave it all to us by dying on the cross. He gave us this power and told us to use this power to share the Good News, one loving act at a time, without fear, until all people of the Earth were won to the Gospel.”
My friends, the next move is yours!
If you love God, if you love Jesus, if you love one another, you must use your gifts for the benefit of His Kingdom on Earth and to fulfill Jesus’ prophecy…Love always wins!
Have no fear! God is with you always! Be brave! AMEN