Why Stewardship

Why Before What

Pastor Jerry Gillis - February 7, 2021

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching. 

  1. What was one thing that God was showing you through this message?   

  1. Read Mark 8:35-37. Talk about how these verses connect to the following idea from Sunday: Stewardship isn’t primarily about managing resources for us to spend, but about managing our lives so God can spend us.  

  1. What are some practical ways that you can demonstrate your identity as a steward (and not owner)?  

  1. What is one action step that you can take in light of Sunday’s message and our conversation today? 


Abide


Sermon Transcript

So it happens to all of us when we're young. We may or may not remember it, but it happens to all of us. Now, if you don't remember it yourself, then maybe if you've had children or grandchildren or nieces or nephews, then you remember it. And it has to do with a response that we have that develops early in life that is a normal response because we're wired that way, but we have to deal with it in interesting ways. For instance, you usually hear it when a child is reasonably young. If you're a parent, you hear it when a child is relatively young, not a baby, they can certainly talk at this point and they've got some teeth. And you say to them, "It's time to go upstairs "and brush our teeth." And they answer by saying, "Why?" Huh, well, you patiently explain to them that, you know, eating is a good thing. It actually keeps us alive. You'll need those teeth to develop well. You'll need good mouth hygiene so that you have good teeth and you can actually eat, and it's kind of important that you do this. They go, "Okay." Then as they get a little bit older, you tell them, "I want you to go upstairs "and make your bed and clean your room." "Why?" You somewhat less patiently explain to them that, you know, this is a good discipline for you to build into your life. Hygiene is good. You don't wanna be that roommate when you get to college or whatever, that's all sloppy and, you know, it feels a little bit selfish. So we're teaching you some good disciplines that'll help you in your life. But then it gets progressively harder, doesn't it? Because eventually when they're teenagers, for instance, and they're about to leave on a Friday night and you tell them, "Be back at 10:00 p.m." And they say, "Why?" At this point, you don't explain anything you just stare at them. And then they leave and they return at 10:00 p.m. hopefully. Or maybe they end up smarting off to you a little bit, being a bit sarcastic, and maybe, you know, saying some things along that line. And you respond back like, "Hey, do not mock me!" And they say, "Why?" Oh no, you did not. And you're ready to go biblical on them, right? I'll tell you why. I will tell you why because Proverbs 30:17 says, "The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother "will be pecked out by the ravens and eaten by vultures. "That's why! Get out of here!" Not suggesting that I've ever done that nor that you've ever done that, I've overdramatized. Some of you are wondering if Proverbs 30:17 actually says that, it does. And I have used it before. Oh man, if Trace and Tenor are watching right now, that's awesome. So I bit overdramatized it a little bit, right? But you get it. We all listen. We all are wondering about the why, because we've been wired that way. It's actually part of the way that our brain functions that we want to know why, that we're asking questions about why. And I think that's important for us to be able to grab a hold of. You know, there was a guy who did a TED Talk. It was a number of years ago and he's written some books. He's a motivational speaker. His name's Simon Sinek. Some of you may have seen that TED Talk before when he talks about, you know, the why, right? He has this thing he calls the golden circle and it just looks like this. It's pretty simple, right? But he actually bases it on brain chemistry because he's talking about motivation and what gets you to be motivated. And, you know, he's a motivational speaker. He's probably talking about motivation. I don't know why that struck me as funny. He's a motivational speaker talking about motivation. That seems to make sense, right? But he's talking about how this functions with brain chemistry. And he talks about the what being the outer ring, right? We know what we do, generally speaking. We know we even can explain how we do it, but sometimes we lose the why we do it, right? So he talks about kind of these move in a particular order. And actually our minds respond in different ways. But this is really the why. That's really what makes us kind of motivated. What's giving us perspective is because we haven't lost sight of the why. Now, I think this happens a little bit in Christian circles around things like the idea of stewardship. Stewardship is kind of a buzzword of sorts. But when we hear it, we often always singularly associate that with money. That's it. That's what we think about. You say, "Stewardship," then I say, "Money." That's kind of what we do. Well, the concept is much bigger than that. And I think that with stewardship, I think in the Christian world, we have a pretty good idea of what it is sort of, even though maybe our understanding of it is a little bit stunted. We even have maybe an idea of how it works generally. But I think it's fair to say that we can easily lose why we should be these things. Why should we participate in stewardship? Why should we be a good steward? Now, when you hear that word steward, some of you, depending on your age, you might think of somebody at a restaurant. You might think of somebody on an airplane, right? Depending on your age. Some of you maybe, depending on your age, are going, "I don't even know what that means. "Is that somebody's name, like Stewart?" Uh, no. What it's talking about is actually talking about being a manager or a trustee, right? That you are kind of managing things that aren't yours, that you're a steward of those things. It's not your stuff, but you're taking care of somebody else's stuff. That's kind of the idea behind the word. But understanding why we have been called to be good stewards as Christians I think is really important. And it's bigger than just money. It certainly applies to that, no question, but it's bigger than that as I think that we're going to see. So what I wanna do is I wanna turn you to a story that Jesus told, and it was a story that some people call The Story of the Bags of Gold. And it's in Matthew 25. And we're gonna look at that story in just a moment. But what I'm going to do is I'm gonna walk through that story that Jesus told, explain it a little bit while I'm reading it, and then we're gonna take some principles from that story that can apply to us. But then following that, we're gonna take the airplane up a little bit higher, and we're gonna get to a little bit of a higher elevation to understand maybe what more is going on in the story than we really understood. See, when Jesus told stories, they had some direct applications, but there was always something richer and deeper going on. Because, you know, it's Jesus and He knows what He's doing and why He's doing it. And so I want us to be able to do that with this story. So Matthew 25 is where we are, beginning in verse 14 and here's how it begins. This is Jesus talking and telling the story. Jesus says, "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey "who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. "To one, he gave five bags of gold "and to another two bags, and to another one bag. "Each according to his ability." And I'll pause right there. It's interesting that what Jesus did is He gave, or He told in the story that He told, He talked about a man who was the master of the place that he lived who was going on a journey. And then he gave bags of gold, cool owner, by the way. Gave bags of gold to some of the people that worked for him. All right, so he gives one, five bags of gold, one, two bags of gold, and one gets one bag of gold. Now he got to determine who gets how many because he owns it, right? It's his stuff. So he gets to determine. He doesn't ask them. He just said, "He gives it to them "according to their ability," whatever all of that means. But he wanted to give it to them and he did. Now, five bags of gold is seemingly a lot, but we have to think about it in the terms that they were thinking about it. Some of your passages in your translation use the word talents. By that, it doesn't mean ♪ Da, da, da, da, da, da ♪ That's not what we're talking about. Did you find that talented? It wasn't, but we're not talking about those kinds of talents. I can yodel. I can juggle. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about a denomination that describes money, right? Talents. And what a talent stood for, or a bag of gold stood for, was about half a year's, I mean, half a lifetime's worth of wages. Like it was a lot. Maybe 20 years worth of wages. Let's say you worked a 40 year career. This bag of gold would represent 20 years of that. So half a lifetime of average earnings. That's significant. So if you got five bags of gold, you got two and a half lifetime's worth of earnings when he gave that to you. This doesn't seem to be insignificant, right? If you got two bags of gold or three bags of gold, right? You get two bags of gold, you're basically getting a lifetime's worth of money given to you, right? You get one bag of gold, it's like half of a lifetime's worth of money. This is pretty significant, right? And he gives each one according to his ability. Well, then it says that, "The man or the owner, the master, "went on his journey "and the man who had received five bags of gold "went at once and put his money to work "and gained five bags more." That's a pretty good return, right? A 100% return. He has five bags. He puts it to work. He has five more bags of gold. "So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more." Exact same, right? "But the man who had received one bag of gold, "went off, dug a hole in the ground, "and hid his master's money." Now, pause there for just a second. You're thinking, "What in the world? "Why would somebody be so silly as to dig a hole "and put their money in it?" I don't know. It'd be stupid. Like, you know, putting money in your dresser or under your mattress, right? I mean, which some people do. But this is what he does. Part of it was because the rabbis would teach about kind of preserving some of this stuff and you're not sure who you could trust, and so they didn't wanna put it with anybody so they dug a hole and they would put their money in it and felt like they could save everything. And they kept the principal, they'd lost nothing. Boom. There you go. So that's what they did, right? Now, after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. "Master," he said, "you entrusted me with five bags of gold. "See, I have gained five more." That's pretty impressive, right? He brought them, brought them back to the master. Why? Because they're his, they're the masters. And he brings the five bags of gold and brings five more back and gives it back to the master. What's the master's response? "Well done, good and faithful servant. "You have been faithful with a few things." A few things? My man had two and a half lifetime's worth of money. He said, "You've been faithful with a few things. "I will put you in charge of many things. "Come and share your master's happiness!" Exclamation point, right? It's awesome. 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." He gives them over, right? His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant. "You've been faithful with a few things. "I'll put you in charge of many things. "Come and share your master's happiness." He answers exactly the same way with the man with five bags as he did the man with two bags. Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. "Master," he said, "I knew that you were a hard man, "harvesting where you have not sown "and gathering where you have not scattered seed. "So I was afraid." That's interesting 'cause the master actually just said to these other people, "Come and share my happiness. That's awesome." This guy is going, "I'm afraid." "So I was afraid and I went out and I hid your gold "in the ground. "See, here's what belongs to you." Master replied, "You wicked, lazy servant. "So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown "and gather where I have not scattered seed?" That could be a little bit sarcastic. "Well then, you should have put my money on deposit "with the bankers." In other words, you could have at least put it in the bank and gotten a little bit of a return so that I would received it back with interest. Then he says, "So take the bag of gold from him "and give it to the one who has 10 bags. "For whoever has, will be given more "and they will have an abundance. "Whoever does not have, even what they have "will be taken from them "and throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness "where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." So Jesus tells a pretty significant story here, right? That we read and go, "Wow." Now, initially, when we read this story on its face, we see Jesus talking about people who've been entrusted with stuff or money and how they handled that. By the way, that application is really good for those of us who live in the context that we live in here in North America. Because the average American household has $8,000 of credit card debt, the average American household. Now, sometimes that may be for certain emergency reasons but most times that is for spending money we don't have to get things we don't need. That's most of the time. But again, I realize there are exceptions to that. But generally speaking, that's where we are in the United States of America. By the way, credit card debt is the most expensive of the debts virtually. And so being in that position is not a great position to be in. Certainly, we understand emergencies and those kinds of things. And particularly, after a year like we've had in 2020 it's all the more reminder that we want to be fiscally responsible, even in our own worlds, because we never know when there's going to be, you know, a global pandemic or something, right? So Jesus tells a story that definitely has some application in those worlds. And what I would tell you is that we could pull out a number of principles from this story that would be good for us as we think about all of these things as well. So let me run through. I'm gonna tick through a couple of them real quickly for us. Here's the first principle from the story that I would tell you to pay attention to. Stewards aren't owners. They manage things for the owner. Some of you are jotting that down. Stewards aren't owners. They manage things for the owner. The reason that I say that is because that's exactly what we read in the story itself. Listen to how Jesus began the story in verse 14. He said, "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey "who called his servants," and listen. "And entrusted his wealth to them." He entrusted his wealth to them. There's an owner and there are stewards or servants. And what we have to remember is that a steward is not an owner, they simply are managing things for the owner. It would be incredible if we understood that principally in our lives and just lived it. That everything that we have is from the owner of everything. That all that we have has been given us by the owner of everything. Some of you in your minds right now are pushing back on that. Listen, I work for a living. I have made my own way. I have made my own money, and I would go . God gave you a life, gave you strength, gave you opportunity to earn wealth. Everything that you have is you have because God has given you the ability to acquire it. It's all God's. It's all His. We are simply managers of what He has entrusted to us. So stewards aren't owners. They manage things for the owner. A second principle that we see is that stewards will be accountable to the master for all they've been entrusted. That's the second principle, right? Stewards are gonna be accountable to the master for everything that he's entrusted to them. The reason I know that is because we read about it in verse 19. Says, "After a long time, "the master of those servants returned "and settled accounts with them." So he gave him stuff that was his and then he left on a journey, and he came back. And you know what he didn't do? He didn't just go, "Ah, yeah, whatever." He didn't do that. He settled accounts with them. Why? It was his stuff. Was his money. And so he wanted to find out, "What did you do with my stuff?" There is going to be an account settlement that we all have to remember, that we're going to experience based upon all that we've been given. A third principle is this that we pull out. The master wants to share his life with faithful stewards. I don't want you to miss this because this actually talks to you about the heart of the owner, the heart of the master. The master actually wants to share his life with those who are faithful stewards. Listen again to what he said in response to when the man with five bags of gold came back with five more. He said, the master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant. "You've been faithful with a few things. "I'll put you in charge of many things." And listen. Listen to what he says. "Come and share your master's happiness." Wow. Come and share your master's happiness. What a brilliant and beautiful reminder for us that the master, his heart, his desire, is actually to share his life with faithful stewards. There's a fourth principle. It's this. The master has plans beyond what the steward may have dreamed. Hmm, the master has plans that are beyond what the steward may have dreamed. Where am I pulling that? Well, from the same statement when the master replied to the man who brought five bags and the man who brought two bags and he doubled the output of those, right? The investment return 100%. Listen to what he says again. 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." Now for one, it's a little mind-numbing that he's talking to this man who brought five bags of gold to, listen. You're talking about a lot. Two and a half lifetime's worth of money. And he saw a return of two and a half more lifetimes of money. And when that guy brings all of that back to the master, the master says, "Well done. "If you can be trusted with just a few things." A few things? That seems to be a whole lot! But he says, "I'm gonna entrust you with many things." What does many things look like if that is just a few things? I don't know but it's beyond what the steward probably had in his mind in his wildest dreams. You know what else blew me away in this story? It's just a little thing, but it was verse 28 and 29. When the master said, "Take the bag of gold "from the one who had one and buried it "and give it to the one who has 10 bags." What? I paused there for a moment. Because I was like, "The one that had five "that made five more "came and brought them back to the master." He gave him back, right? "This is yours. "I'm presenting these back to you." Except when the master finds the one who buried it, he said, "Take that one because he wasn't faithful. "Take that and give it to the one with 10 bags," making it 11 bags. That's like beyond. I'm thinking that this guy, the five guy, he's going, "Poof!" Right? Because this is beyond his wildest imagination. Now, there's certainly other principles we could pull out of this story if we wanted to. And you may be able to come up with some of your own, but those were ones that were staring us right in the face kind of on the face of this. We just kind of went, "Oh yeah, "that makes really good sense." But I wanna say this to you. Those of you that make up The Chapel, what I do know is this, generally speaking. It's not true for every single individual person or family, I realize, but generally speaking, as a congregation we've been pretty faithful with our stewardship. And I wanna commend you for that. Because, if you remember, some of you that were here four years ago in 2017, about this time, maybe in January of 2017, late January, I stood up on this platform here at the Crosspoint Campus and I began to talk about a five-year look ahead. Some of you were here, some of you have come to faith in Christ since that time and have joined our church since that time and we're so glad that you have. But those of you who were here, you remember that I about kind of a five-year look of things that we wanted to do, but it was gonna take us all together to be able to do them. And if you recall, I actually brought out, like, three barrels. Do you remember that, those of you who were here? It looked like this. I brought three barrels out. One said, "Expand." One said, "Partner." And one said, "Release." That's where We were. That's 2017, January of 2017. And I'm standing right over there and bringing these barrels out. And then in this one barrel called expand, I pulled out. The first thing I pulled out was a popcorn bucket. Everybody was looking at me like, "What in the world are you doing with a popcorn bucket?" Well, it was because our Cheektowaga Campus was meeting in a movie theater, but what we wanted to do is we wanted to see them get into their own home so that we could have a beachhead in Cheektowaga for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also pulled out a picture of Niagara Falls and said, "We also feel like God is leading us "to plant another campus in Niagara Falls." Not literally at the base of the falls, it's not like a Maid of the Mist plant. But we wanted to do a plant in Niagara Falls and we were trusting the Lord, we didn't have one. We trusted the Lord for that. Oh, and by the way, during this time, our Lockport Campus, where we were meeting we had already planted our Lockport Campus, but where we were meeting, we were actually leasing that place because we didn't know, you know, if they were ever gonna be able to sell it to us 'cause there was kind of a hangup with the diocese and all that stuff. But then it came open for sale and we were able to purchase it outright. So we not only have a Lockport Campus paid for outright and a beachhead there, we've had a Cheektowaga Campus that we were able to move into its and purchase a facility, renovate that facility, and move them all in and it's completely paid for. And we were able to launch a Niagara Falls Campus that we were able to start paying for rent meeting in a movie theater, but then were able to purchase Niagara Catholic High School and we've done it without acquiring any additional debt. We purchased it outright for cash, and now we're building and we're paying for it as we go. That's in the expand bucket. Everything that we said God has done through the people of God. You are to be commended! Then the partner bucket, what we said. I pulled out an "On Mission" magazine from the partner bucket and I said, "We wanna, we actually, we wanna do all this stuff "but we wanna do it without taking a step backwards "on our Kingdom Come Partnerships. "We actually want to continue to move forward "in our partnerships to reach every man, woman, and child "not only in our region, but also in our nation "and in the world. "We wanna keep planting churches. "We wanna see other churches planted "that aren't even affiliated with The Chapel. "But we wanna still seed the Gospel into this region. "We wanna partner with all of these various ministries, "doing great things." And you know what? We've done that. We've been able to do that. You're to be commended. And then the last one, release. I pulled out some matches and I lit a match. And I said, "We wanna light something on fire "so that we can light something else on fire." What we wanna light on fire was the debt note with all the debt that we had hanging over us so that we could get rid of that and then be in a position where we could basically light on fire our region with generosity such that maybe hasn't been seen in our region before, for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the glory of God. And do you know what's happened? We not only have been able together, by the grace of God, and by the generosity of God's people together, we've been able to purchase the Lockport Campus. They are where they are. We've been able to relocate our Cheektowaga Campus. It's completely paid for. We've been able to launch our Niagara Falls Campus and we haven't taken any debt to be able to do that. We've been able to continue our Kingdom Come Partnerships and not take a step back on them. And we have lowered the debt 44% over that time. To God be the glory. And hear me as your pastor. I thank God for you, because together we are doing this for the glory of God. And we still have some room to go, but God's been gracious to us. God's been faithful to us, and we're gonna continue moving forward.

I tell you all of that because I want us to remember the why behind stewardship. And so I want us to maybe elevate our posture here for just a moment on this story. Because when we look at this story, it not only applies in real ways like the principles that we've already seen, but there's something additional going on in this story. Let me tell you why I know that. I know that because of the way the story that came before it in Matthew 25 is introduced. Notice how it's introduced in Matthew 25:1. Jesus is about to tell a story. He says, "At that time the kingdom of heaven "will be like." And then He tells the story about 10 virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom, right? Jesus says, "I'm telling you a story "about what the kingdom of heaven is like." And then when we read the first verse of the story about the bags of gold, notice what it says. "Again, it will be like." What will be like? The kingdom of heaven. That's what's being talked about here, right? The kingdom of heaven will be like. And then He begins to talk about all of these things. Now, when the original audience would have heard this story, these Jews would have heard this story about a master and servant, their ears probably perked up to think, "Yahweh and Israel." That's more or less what the people that were hearing this story were hearing. Yahweh and Israel. And maybe they were hearing Jesus tell a story about how too many Israelites have been unfaithful with all that they've been entrusted and they've dug a hole and they've hid it in a ground, as a result of sharing it with everybody that it should be shared with. And that ultimately the punishment is going to be that God is going to allow for them to get what they always wanted, kind of being independent from Him. And when 70 AD would roll around and the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed, they would see that they had walked away from the time that God was showing up to them in the person of Jesus Christ. Because in just another chapter or so, Jesus is actually praying over Jerusalem and that's His concern, that you're going to see not one stone left on another. But see, the beautiful thing about Jesus' stories is not only does the original audience hear it for their time, but we know that it's transcendent and we're hearing it for our time. And we're hearing it in such a way to be able to say, "This is teaching us "what our lives should actually look like "as we prepare for the return of Jesus to earth." That said, what we have to remember is that the kingdom of heaven that Jesus speaks of a lot is something that He spoke about already in Matthew's Gospel a number of times. If you were to go back about 12 chapters into Matthew 13, we won't go there, but Jesus tells a number of stories about the kingdom of heaven. And do you know that He uses a bunch of different imagery to portray the kingdom of heaven? Seed, weeds, yeast, nets, treasure, pearls. Here in Matthew 25, 10 virgins with oil lamps. And then in our story, servants with bags of gold. See, these are all pictures that Jesus is painting about the kingdom of heaven, but those pictures are actually reflecting bigger ideas and purposes. You see, what I want us to remember because this is a story about the kingdom of heaven. You need to understand, this is less a story about gold and more a story about grace. It's about a giver and receivers. It's about an owner and managers. It's about a kingdom that is ever-lasting, not just a transient earthly business dealing. This story is bigger because it's a story about what the kingdom of heaven is like. And among many reasons that Jesus told this story, I think we have to remember that Jesus told a story about stewardship related to the kingdom of heaven because, listen. Because stewardship is foundational to life in the kingdom. Why do I say that? Well, if you and I were to go all the way back to the beginning when God created humanity, image bearers after His own likeness, He created those image bearers to be in relationship with Him and to represent Him on the earth. And He gave them a commission. "I want you to exercise dominion over everything. "I want you to be fruitful and multiply." Do you know what He was giving them a commission to be? Stewards. God's the one who made it all. It was all His, but He had placed human beings, made in His image, to represent Him on earth so that they could demonstrate a stewardship over where they were. Why? Because stewardship is foundational to life with God in the kingdom. You see for you and I, what we have to understand is that this has been God's purpose all along and this is God's purpose actually for the coming kingdom as well. That right now, in this present kingdom that we're living in, where the kingdom of God has broken in but has not consummated fully until Jesus returns. But the kingdom of God that has broken in through those of us who know Jesus, we have been called by God to be stewards over everything. Not just our stuff, but everything. Why? Because this is preparing us for life in the consummated kingdom. You see, Jesus said, "If you can be faithful with a few things," and by the way, they seem to be a lot, right? Seemed to be a lot of money. But He said, "If you can be faithful with a few things, "I'm gonna put you in charge of many things." Do you realize, ladies and gentlemen, that those of us who have been entrusted with whatever it is that we've been entrusted with, that we have a responsibility before Jesus to utilize all of those things and all of our life for the sake of the kingdom of God? Because you know what we're being prepared for? Listen. To rule and reign with Jesus. To share in the master's happiness. To join Him in sharing His life. In fact, the New Testament teaches us this in a number of different places. I'll give you a couple. 2 Timothy 2 says, "Here's a trustworthy saying. "If we died with Him, we will also live with Him. "If we endure, we will also reign with Him." Paul says this in Romans 8. He says, "Now, if we are children then we are heirs. "Heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, "if indeed we share in His sufferings "in order that we may also share in His glory." We are joint-heirs with Jesus. In fact, if you go all the way to the end of the revelation of God, in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 5 says, "They sing a new song," and they're singing about Jesus. And they said, "You are worthy to take the scroll "and to open its seals because you were slain. "And with your blood, You purchased for God "persons from every tribe and language "and people and nation. "You have made them to be a kingdom and priest "to serve our God "and they will reign "on the earth." Do you realize that as a child of God, that you have been given a destiny to be a joint-heir with Jesus and to rule and reign with Him, certainly under His Lordship? This is what we have been made for. And that's why, listen to this, stewardship is foundational to life in the kingdom because this is what we're actually moving toward. So if you hear the word stewardship and you only think of money, you're missing it. If you read a story that Jesus tells about the kingdom of heaven and only think about gold, you're missing it. In fact, write this down. Maybe it'll help clarify. Stewardship isn't primarily about managing resources for us to spend, but about managing our lives so God can spend us. I know a bunch of you are writing and this might not get on you like it's getting on me. Stewardship is not primarily about managing our resources for us to spend, it's about managing our lives so that God can spend us. This is what God wants to do. This story is not just about gold. This story is about the servants. It's about their hearts. It's about the generosity of the owner. It's about the grace that he has shown them. And it's about the faithfulness of these servants. You see, we've been made to be spent. You're saying, "Oh, are you sure?" Yeah, I'm sure and here's why. Because the perfect illustration of life in the kingdom among humanity is Jesus. And do you realize Jesus coming to be with us, listen to this. Jesus was both owner of everything and the one who gave it. Jesus was both owner and servant in this picture. The one who owns everything actually spent His life so that every single person who believed in what He had done and what He had taught could be reconciled to the Father. Can you imagine? Listen to this. Can you imagine Jesus, having now spent His life for the glory of the Father? Can you imagine the return on that spend? It is beyond our imagination the return on Jesus' spend of His life. Because now, because He has spent His life on our behalf, shed His blood, died on a cross, risen from the dead, that that investment has yielded every single person who ever lives can turn their eyes in faith toward Him. And when we put our faith in Him, we can have our sins forgiven. We can have life that begins right now. We can have reconciliation with God. We're no longer enemies, but we're now friends. We can be justified standing before a Holy God. We can know that we have eternal life that will last forever. Why? Because Jesus took His life and He spent it for the sake of the glory of the Kingdom of God, and now that return is inestimable and eternal and beyond what we could ever imagine. Now, the beauty of this is that Jesus stewarded His whole life in order to spend it. That's what He did. Stewarded His whole life in order to spend it. So let me ask you a question. What if you're God's bag of gold? What kind of return will your life get? What kind of return? Some of us have been given whatever we've been given, the time we've been given, the talents that we've been given, the resources that we've been given. We've been given some of all of this and you know what we've done? Generally speaking, we have dug a hole and we've hid it away. And we thought, "You know what? "I'll just give back to Him, you know, "what He gave to me." That's not what He's looking for. He's looking for faithful stewards, that's what He's looking for. Faithfulness to take what He's given and invest. Listen. Spend it for the glory of God. Your very life spent for the glory. That's what Jesus did. He stewarded His whole life to spend it. And that's what's being called on for us. Now, I'm not suggesting to you that I'm saying, "You know what? "You gotta quit your job or do any." That's not what I'm saying at all. And I'll get to that actually in a few weeks. I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that we've got work to do, business to do, and it's the Father's business. And that can happen in the way that you allow Him to use you and spend you in your place of work. How He spends you in your home. How He spends you at your school. How He spends you anywhere He wants to because you've said, "I'm yielding everything to His purposes "because my life "is not just about managing resources for me to spend. "It's about managing my life for God to spend me." This is what He's looking to do in our lives. I'll tell you this. I'm not trying to call for people to get burned out. That's not what I'm saying. Because people that get burned out are usually operating in their own energy anyway, instead of the energy of Jesus. But I'll tell you this. I would rather burn out than rust out, hidden in, buried in a hole. I would rather burn out than rust out. Now, I'm not suggesting burnout. I don't think it's a good idea. But rusting out is a worse one. It's a worse one. You see, you are a bag of gold. You are. And your life will have a return. Your life is meant to be spent. Some of us think to ourselves, "Now, I'm just gonna dig a hole "and I'm just gonna put myself in there "and I'm just gonna stay there. "I'm just in my nice little place. "I feel comfortable here." And so here's what you think. "I'm going to keep my life." Do you know what Jesus said about that? "Those who try to keep their lives, lose it. "But those who "lose their life for the sake of the Gospel, "lose their life for the sake "of the Kingdom of God, find it." How do we know? It's what Jesus did! That's what Jesus did! Jesus' whole life He stewarded to be spent for the glory of God. We need less hiders and more spenders. And I'm not just talking about money here. I'm talking about our lives for the sake of the glory of God. You know why? Because the Master has plans beyond your wildest imagination for how He wants to utilize the gift that He has given you of your life and all that that has. He wants to bring from that an inordinate return on your life. We may not always get to see it in this life, right? We may make investments and spend our lives for the sake of the Gospel in a variety of different ways. And we may not be able to see all of the fruit. But there's coming a time where the accounts will get settled. And I promise you, you'll be able to see everything. You're gonna find out some things and you're gonna be like, "Thank God. "I had no idea, but thank God." This is gonna be a beautiful time. Do you know why? Here's why. The Master actually wants you. He wants you to share His life. He wants you to join Him in the joy of what His life is all about. And what do we know His life is all about? Jesus stewarded His whole life to spend it for the sake of the glory of God. That's what He's calling us to. No servant is above their master. This is what He's calling us to. I don't know what that looks like for you, but I do know this. You're a bag of gold that could really end up having a big return if you are willing to surrender yourself to Jesus. Because stewardship isn't primarily about managing our resources for us to spend. It's about managing our lives so that God can spend us. Let's bow together for prayer. We'll be gone in just a moment, but if you're here, either in the room or you're watching us online, maybe you've never come to a place where you have put your faith and your trust in Jesus. I can tell you this, the Master who owns everything also gave everything to be able to save you. He cares. He loves. He's exemplified that. But our sin has separated us from God, but God's made a way that we can be reconciled to Him through what Jesus has done on our part, on our behalf. That He's given His life in our place so that we might now, by His death and His resurrection, be able to be reconciled to the Father. We can never do that on our own merit. It's only by the grace that He's shown us. But if you've never really understood what it means by faith to entrust your life to Jesus, to have your sins forgiven, your life made new, your destiny assured, then my hope is today that you will do just that. And in a moment, you'll hear one of our other pastors be able to share with you how you can follow up on that decision. If you're here at our campus, you can come straight across the atrium to the Fireside Room. We'd love to take a moment and just pray with you and send you home with something that's gonna help you in this new journey of faith. Please do. It's the best decision you could ever make. If you're online, you'll hear about how we can connect with you in your new journey of faith in trusting Jesus. For those of us who do know Christ and who have been walking with Christ there, I'm sure just like, just like all of us, sometimes we forget the why. Sometimes we lose sight of it. Maybe even as it regards stewardship of our very lives. We just forget the why. We know. We know what. Sometimes we even know how. But we forget why. It's because Jesus is worth it. It's because of the promises that He has for us. It's because of what He desires to do in us. And so whatever the Holy Spirit may lead in your life to surrender, to submit, so that you and I both can fully align with the purposes that the Master, the Owner, has for our lives, I pray that we would do that. That may have to do with stuff and possessions. That may have to do with our time or our talents or our service. May have to do with how it impacts relationships. Whatever it may be, I pray that you'll honor the Lord by saying, "Yes," to whatever His Spirit is saying to your heart. Father, how we thank You for the grace that You have given us in Jesus. Jesus, we're so thankful for what You've done, how extraordinarily gracious You have been to us, the life You've given us, the promises You've given us, Your word that You have given us, Your Spirit that You have given us. Whatever tangible resources that You have given us and You've called us no matter what our ability, no matter what You've entrusted to us, You've called us to be faithful. Not to be hiders, but to be spent for Your glory. Because You wanna bring a return on our lives that we could never imagine. Never even remotely conceive of. And I pray that You would find us, as Your people, faithful. Pray You'd find me faithful. 'Cause, Lord, we don't want to just think of stewardship only about monetary possessions, even though there's loads of application for us to embrace. But we need to think about the management of our lives so that You can spend us for Your glory, just as Your Son was spent for Your glory. And may we do it joyfully because just as the Son of Man, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, may we too joyfully embrace whatever You call us to do to spend our lives for the glory of God. Do your work in Your people, for Your name's sake I ask. In Jesus' name, amen.


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