Sermon for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost
|Text: Matthew 25:14-15
Jesus said, "Once there was a man who was about to leave home on a trip; he called his servants and put them in charge of his property. He gave to each one according to his ability: to one he gave five thousand gold coins, to another he gave two thousand, and to another he gave one thousand. Then he left on his trip”.
Today I would like to start with a deep philosophical and theological question that has been pondered over through the centuries by learned and simple people alike. It’s a question that has caused a lot of head scratching, deep thinking, and answers like “I dunno” as well as complicated answers that fill books. The question goes like this, “Why were you put on this planet at this particular time and in this particular place?” Or to put it simply, “Why are you here?” “What is the purpose of your life?”
Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Nazi Concentration Camps observed how some people were able to survive the terrible conditions and concluded that there was one factor that enabled those people to endure the impossible – it was the driving conviction that there was still some purpose in their lives, that they still had something to live for, some important work yet to do.
“What is the purpose of my life here and now on this planet?”
We also note that when God created the world there was evening and morning, sunrise and sunset. That means God gives us our days. God gives us our time and we are told that he was very pleased with what he had given us. Note also that he gives us days to work and days to rest. So while we carry time around with us, we wear time on our wrists and live as though we own time, time is actually God’s, not ours. He made it. He owns it. He gives it to us as a gift!
When we look at the opening chapters of the
Bible and then follow the message through its pages it’s clear that God puts us
on this earth to look after the gifts he has given us.
This is not just about looking after the
world and not abusing it, exploiting it, destroying it, but also looking after
everything and everyone that God has given to us.
That includes our bodies and our abilities,
the people he has given us in our families, our friends and our brothers and sisters in the church.
God entrusts to us and wants us to look after his world and that includes the physical world and its environment, the people he has placed in our lives – those we know well and those we don’t know personally.
We all know Jesus’ story about the rich farmer who had such fantastic crops that he decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones. “Lucky man!” he said. “You have all you need for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and enjoy yourself”. (Luke 12:16-20). This man’s purpose in life was get from the earth all he could get and keep it all for himself – there is no connection here with God; no thought of relationships and the people around him; no inkling that he has been given so much to serve others. He died a rich man but in God's eyes he was poorer than the poorest.
As I have already said, when I look in my Bible I can’t find anything which says that I am to use my time, my talents, my wealth, the resources available to me through work to advance my own cause, to make myself more comfortable, to get myself respect and become the envy of everyone else – the emphasis being on the ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself’. I don’t see any of that in the Bible but I do see a lot about others. I am here for the other person - to build the other person up, to make them look good and feel good, to ensure that they are well off.
When we answer the question, “what is the purpose of my life” the answer
God is looking for is how our work, our money, our time, our abilities, our
leisure time have actually benefitted the world and the people around us in some
God is looking to see
what legacy we have left behind,
what people we have touched,
in what way is our world a better place because we have lived here for however many years we have in this life.
Some are gifted in such a way that they can be an Albert Schweitzer or a Mother Theresa and leave a legacy that is famous because they touched so many lives and books have been written about them. That’s like the servant who was given 5,000 silver coins and faithfully did great things with that money.
But there was also the servant who was given just a small
amount and with that small amount he was faithful and able to do great things.
Using what we have been given to serve others and honour God, no matter
how humble that might be, we will receive the commendation,
“Well done, you good and faithful servant.
… Come in and share my happiness” (Matthew 25:23).
When we answer the question, “what is the purpose of my life” will we be able to say that we have used the time God has given us to get to know him more, love him more, serve him more, share him more with others?
As a preacher of
the Christian Church every sermon must have some good news in it. The truth is
that there is a lot in this parable that leaves us feeling guilty which really
isn’t good news. The last words of
the parable echo in our ears, “As for this
useless servant – throw him outside in the darkness; there he will cry and gnash
his teeth” (Matt 25:30).
Sometimes we need a challenge, we need to re-think, to re-evaluate. Jesus forces
us to do that, as we listen to this story.
The parable forces us to ask ourselves,
What is the purpose of my life?
Why have I been put here on this earth?
Why has Jesus called me to be his disciple and made me part of the people of God in his church?
How am I using the time, abilities and resources that God has given me to be a blessing to others?
Jesus came to take on the heavy load of guilt that we bear. He came to take on himself our failures, our self-centredness, our selfishness, our inability to use what God has given to benefit the people around us. He died for those moments when we let our sinful nature overwhelm the new life that we have in Christ. He forgives us when we think that our purpose in life is to accumulate as much as we can for ourselves and forget that we have been blessed to be a blessing to others. He gives us the Holy Spirit to renew us and fill our hearts with new desires and new plans and new ways of service to God and the people in our lives.
© Pastor Vince
13th November 2011