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Your One and Only Life

• Greg Boyd

Everything that we have is a gift from God that we have been entrusted with. But these gifts are meant to be given away.

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We begin today’s sermon by reading Matthew’s parable of the Bags of gold found in Matt 25:14-30. At the end of this parable, the servant who was only given one bag was told that whoever has will have more, and he who does not, whatever they have will be taken from them. At first blush, this master does not sound very Christlike! He sounds more like a ruthless head of a Wall Street investment firm, where insufficient “returns” are punished. Some preachers use this passage to push for evangelism (where each convert is counted). But this reading of this parable is inconsistent with character of God found in Christ. As we have learned before, it is okay to ask questions when we run into a difficult passage. It just means we need to dig a little.

Our culture doesn’t speak in parables much. So they can get misinterpreted, because we don’t always know what to look for. The way Jesus used these is that it is a story based on a situation in the everyday life of his audience. The story’s situation is just used as prop to make a teaching point. Sometimes we the modern listener get caught up in the details that we aren’t supposed to. It’s like a joke, where if you have to ask about the meaningless details, you are missing the joke. The only point is the punchline. The setup is just a prop.

An example of this is found in Luke there is a parable where some guests show up unexpectedly and the host doesn’t have any food to give them. So she asks her neighbor for some bread to give to her guest. The neighbor is cranky and says no but the woman keeps pestering until the neighbor finally breaks down and gives her what she asks for. The point of this parable is not that God is like a cranky neighbor who doesn’t want to be bothered– the point (aka the punchline) is in Luke 11:9 — we should ask persistently. A common practice in Jesus’ day was to lend bags of gold, so that is the setup. He is not commenting on this. The punchline is if you are faithful with a few things, you will be put in charge of many. If we invest with the master’s will that which is entrusted to us, we will receive more. But if we hoard it, we will not.

How do we apply this to our life? Think of the positive things you have. Eyesight, hearing, food, shelter, the breath of life itself. Now ask: did you do something that would explain why you have this gift and others don’t? Since we as Christians do not believe in reincarnation and karma, then for most things the answer is no. It is an unmerited gift! And all good things come from God. (John 3:2, James 1:17) These gifts we possess have been entrusted to us.

//Entrusted: to give a trust or responsibility to; to place in trust for protection, care or handling.//

Every gift comes with a responsibility to give it and use it. It’s not just for us. Gifts are meant to be used and multiplied, to be given to others. We will be most fully alive when we are imitating the self-giving God. This is the whole point of this passage. It is also what is meant when Jesus says “Lose your life and you will find it.” The mantra of our Western culture is individualism –“what’s mine is mine.” “Live your best life now” and “It’s my life I can do what I want” While this is legally true, it is biblically false, it’s actually anti-biblical. In reality, the Master owns our wealth, our gifts, and our life. He has just entrusted us with it. It is a loan, whose purpose is to be given away.

This is all part of becoming like God — because we are made in the image of God. And the fact is that if God wasn’t pouring his goodness into his world, there wouldn’t BE any goodness. Because this world is fallen; People’s will and the will of spiritual entities can and do frequently thwart his will. So it is right to thank God for every good thing. Our goal is to develop the capacity to become more like him by pouring our goodness (which belongs to him) into the world too.

Now, this doesn’t mean your shouldn’t have boundaries. Cherish and take care of yourself. But the purpose of our gifts is to give them away. Only then do we find the joy of the master.

Here is the an exercise to battle depression/anger about life….

(obviously if your doctor prescribes Prozac, take it. But either way, try this…)

1 – Think of every positive thing in your life. Then look around and see all those who have less. Give thanks for those things. They are all gifts given to you. And making a regular practice of giving concrete thanks is powerful.

2 – Get your focus off yourself. Find something to pour yourself into. Think of your gifts and then find a place to give them away to. Watch what that does to you. Joy will start to creep into your life. Because now you’re living in the pattern of the self-giving God. Another way to say this is Use it or lose it. This applies to everything: Use your brain, move your body, exercise empathy, learn a language. Everything is meant to be used.

In summary, you are a gift! And gifts are meant to be given away.

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Topics: Calling, Generosity, Kingdom of God

Sermon Series: Entrusted

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Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 25:14-30

    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, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

    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.’ 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!

    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.” 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!”

    Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” His 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? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten 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.”

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4 thoughts on “Your One and Only Life

  1. Teresa Riley says:

    Thank you.

    SUCH an important message!!!

  2. Peter says:

    Greg covered in his message the reference from James 1:17 with a fuller quote from James 1:16-18 as follows,

    “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”

    From this quote, we see that the Father only gives “good” and “perfect” gifts without deceit and we being “firstfruits” should do likewise…as Greg also brought out that we are created to reflect the Father’s self-giving love.

    However, we know that our giving is not always done with the purest of motives. This brings us to another parable told by Jesus to a man who gave a banquet where an interesting situation can occur when we are giving (Lk 14:12-14),

    “He (Jesus) said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

    In other words, if we give but are repaid by those to whom we give, we are not giving. But if we give to those who are not able to repay; then we will be blessed. Our giving needs to be appropriately targeted.

    A further point here is in Acts 20:35, where Paul quotes Jesus, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” We must ask the question, why is it more blessed to give than to receive? If we are paid back by our giving then there is no giving but, true giving is where (in Paul’s case helping the weak) we are not paid back…with the blessing to be received in the new Kingdom. When you receive a gift there invariably is an immediate blessing but not necessarily of the same order of that just described.

    So true giving really only comes from God out of love…that is no more truly expressed than the Father giving His only Son on the Cross. We then find the outflow of the work of the Cross and salvation as a gift to fallen man,

    Justification – Rom 3:24 “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”

    Repentance and Forgiveness – Acts 5:31 “God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”

    Faith – Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

    Righteousness – Rom 5:17 “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

    Eternal Life – Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    So, from the foregoing, one may perhaps look at all believers having a number of gifts they can share with non-believers, let alone the other gifts of the Holy Spirit (ie the gifts of Christ that He (the Spirit) distributes).

  3. Vanessa/Podrishioner says:

    This was an excellent sermon, Greg, and ever do you preach so well and are the best!. Have listened to you for years and years and you have ever blessed deeply..also with your books. Thank you dear Godly man!!

  4. Mary Reyes says:

    So good–a helpful jump-start as we enter 2017! Thanks, Greg : )

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