Sermon session

Working While Waiting

Session #146 Working While Waiting

Scripture Matthew 25:14-30

Summary We know we have to wait for Jesus’ return. But what do we do while waiting? Through the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus provides what might be the clearest directions on how to be ready and prepared. Let those who have ears hear what Jesus is looking for when He returns to settle accounts. May we be found not just desiring but truly deserving of the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”.

Introduction

 14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. 16 Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. 17 And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. 18 But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ 21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 22 He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ 23 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ 24 “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ 26 “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. 29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30

 In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; 25), many have focused on the first portion of Matthew 24 and are caught up with prophetic speculations about the end times. However, since all that has been prophesied will come to pass (Matthew 24:35), we believe more attention should be directed at Jesus’ repeated directions in the latter portion of Matthew 24 and 25. Our part is not to predict or speculate. Instead, against what has been provided to us by the Lord, our part is to respond correctly, that we may be ready and prepared when Jesus returns for His kingdom people.

 The eschatological backdrop that Jesus presented to His disciples is meant to give us context not concern. It is to help us focus not fear. We are not expected to be wondering about the unexpectedness of Jesus’ return while waiting. Instead, as we shall see in this teaching, we should be working while waiting. 

 From the previous verses, we know that we do not know the exact time of Jesus’ return but we need to be ready and prepared; that readiness and preparedness is characterised by watchfulness that leads to faithfulness.

 Based on what we know, do we know then what we are to do in the meantime?

What are we to do while waiting for Jesus’ return? Through this next parable-the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), we will learn and know that we have to be working while waiting.

Parable of the Talents – Key Points

 This parable involves a master and his servants (more accurately slaves -’doulos’). Slaves were legal property of the master and they were there to serve the master’s agenda or will. Clearly, Jesus is the master and we are the servants. But are we as clear about what Jesus requires of us? Let us learn together by exploring the key points in this Parable:

 Allocation of Assets (Matthew 25:14-15a)

The word ‘talent’ (talanton in Greek) does not refer to skills, giftings, strengths or abilities but simply kingdom assets, resources and capital at our disposal – not just financial resources but also human resources, as well as every spiritual blessing in Christ. Out of the master’s possessions, he allocates his assets to the servants.

The key thing to note is that everything we have belongs to God. Every asset allocated is to be used for His purposes.

According to Abilities (Matthew 25:15b)

These are all given according to our abilities, what we are able to do. There is no need to compare, compete or complain. God knows exactly what we are able to achieve in Christ, empowered by His Spirit. It is not how much we have but what we do with what we have.

Alignment and Assignment (Matthew 25:16-18)

What do we do with both the assets and abilities that we have? When we are aligned with the agenda of the kingdom, we will be clear with the assignment of the kingdom. We will know what to do and we will be busy and occupied with kingdom business, working while waiting for Jesus’ return.

Accountability and Assessment (Matthew 25:19)

We are waiting for the King’s return. When Jesus returns, He will settle accounts (Matthew 18:23, Luke 16:2) When He comes, we give account (Romans 14:10,        2 Corinthians 5:10) and await His assessment.

Affirmation and Approval (Matthew 25:21-27)

Looking forward to His affirmation and approval, we must discern the difference between desiring and deserving to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Jesus’ reminders and instructions are extremely clear. There is a conditional promise and also a consequential warning. Our King and Master expects faithfulness and fruitfulness. There will be absolutely no place for excuses, so do not have the wrong focus, wrong fear and even wrong faithfulness.

Access and Abundance (Matthew 25:21,23,29a,30)

May we be those who do not presume upon His grace but are profitable by His grace, gaining entry into the joy of our Lord, access into the messianic kingdom and messianic abundance. What is the opposite of access? ‘Weeping and gnashing of teeth’? This is covered in the previous teaching and four other places in Matthew where the same phrase is used (Matthew 8:12; 13:42; 13:50; 24:51; 25:30). The phrase refers to a level of intense regret, pain, frustration and loss. We need a Return Mindset that takes Jesus at His Word, to love the blessings but also heed the warnings.

Conclusion

While waiting for Jesus’ return, do not end up distracted and drawn away from what or who we are waiting for. We must know what we are to be doing while waiting. Jesus does not just tell us to be ready and prepared. He tells how we are to be ready and prepared. The main point of this parable is that we are to be working while waiting for Jesus’ Return, not to be inactive or occupied with aimless activities but to know and fulfil our kingdom assignments.