We are Entrusted – Healthy Stewardship
By Shawn Kennedy
The truth is everyone has been entrusted to be responsible with something. Some of us have been entrusted with a little and some of us have been entrusted with a lot.
From the beginning of humanity, God has always entrusted people to care, manage and steward for Him. Before sin ever entered the human race, God created a garden and entrusted two people with the responsibility to care for it.
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
You could say we are hard wired and designed to be responsible for something.
In Matthew 25, we find Jesus alone with His twelve disciples and He gives them a profound and practical parable. It is called the parable of the talents or the parable of the bags of gold. It is a story that highlights and helps us understand the importance of stewardship and responsibility.
Lets pick up where Jesus begins in Matthew 25:14-15.
“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 talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
The man in the story has incredible wealth. He gives his wealth to his three servants. He give one man five talents, one man two talents and one man one talent.
I used to think that the last person in many ways was slighted or cheated. He only received one talent, while everyone else received more. Then I came to understand the worth of one talent. Scholars estimate that one talent would be equivalent to twenty years of income for a day laborer. In other words, this man was given somewhere around $300,000 to $400,000 dollars from a modern perspective. He wasn’t slighted or cheated. He was blessed to care for something of great value!
Now all throughout this parable, we find some very specific principles that I think guide us to have a healthy Kingdom response to what we have been entrusted.
Let me draw your attention to three of them.
PRINCIPLE #1: EVERYTHING BELONGS TO GOD
The wealth was the masters! In the same way, everything we have been given is not ours, it is a gift from God. Our money, our opportunities, our spiritual gifts and more are all a gift from God and ultimately belong to God.
We really don’t own anything. We didn’t come into this world with anything and we are not going to take anything out of this world. All that we have is a gift.
This is extremely important! We will never honor and glorify God until we settle this truth into our hearts and minds.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…”
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine, declares the LORD Almighty.”
“But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
The dutch theologian Abraham B. Kuyper says,
“There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!”
PRINCIPLE #2: EVERYONE IS ENTRUSTED WITH SOMETHING
All three servants were given something to be responsible for based on their abilities. The master gave them what he felt they could handle, nothing more, nothing less. The same is true for our life.
Unfortunately, we spend most of our time trying to get something we don’t have instead of embracing, managing and stewarding what we do have! Our tendency is to try and live someone else’s life, instead of living our own life. The issue isn’t how do we make life fair, because life is not fair. The issue is what are we going to do with what God has entrusted to us.
1 Peter 4:10
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
PRINCIPLE #3: EVERYONE IS EXPECTED TO BE RESPONSIBLE
The amount that is given to each of these people are uneven, but the expectation is the same. The expectation is that they will be responsible for what they have been entrusted.
And so here is what happens…
“The man who had received five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five talents more. So also, the one with two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”
When the master comes back, he responds to the man with five talents and the man with two talents in the exact same way in verse 23
“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!”
And then there is the man with one talent. Look at response of the man and the master in verse 24-27.
“Then the man who had received one talent 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 talent 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.”
In this short parable, we are given a clear picture of healthy stewardship contrasted with unhealthy stewardship.
HEALTHY STEWARDSHIP that leads toward multiplying what we have can be summed up with these three words; HARD WORK, WISE INVESTMENT and FAITHFULNESS
We are often so consumed with success, while God wants us to be consumed with faithfulness and let Him take of our success.
“A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.”
1 Corinthians 4:2
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
In contrast, UNHEALTHY STEWARDSHIP that leads toward losing what we have can be summed up in these three words; LAZY, SELFISH and FEARFUL.
The third man who was entrusted with one talent wasted his opportunity by being lazy, selfish and fearful.
To feel the true weight of what is going on in the story imagine for a moment that you worked for twenty years and managed to save all of your income. At the end of those twenty years, you felt God was prompting you to do full time missions work. You decided to follow those promptings and make preparations to leave. You gathered a friend you trusted and loved and left them in charge of your finances. You literally signed a check and handed it over.
After twenty five years you returned. One of the first things you did when you came home was to visit your friend. After a small conversation of pleasantries, he shares with you that the stock market has been a roller coaster and the rental market has been abysmal for the past twenty five years. He then goes on to say, “I was fearful and I didn’t even cash check.”
For many of us the sad truth is God has entrusted us with money, spiritual gifts, influence and opportunities and we haven’t even cashed the check.
We are holding back in apathy, selfishness and fear and God is prompting us to do something! The opportunity is different for everyone, but the expectation is the same.
There is someone who needs to hear your story, someone who needs to experience your gifts and someone who needs to be blessed by your influence. Someone needs you to care for what God has entrusted to you.
The great tragedy in life is not that we didn’t receive more, but rather that we didn’t do more with what we have been given.
We are entrusted! I encourage you and challenge you to work hard, invest wisely and be faithful.
Shawn Kennedy is a part of the Lead Pastoral Team at Existence Church and is the Director of Kingdom Come Discipleship. He is the co-author of Kingdom Come: A Gospel-Centered Guide to Discipleship. Shawn has a passion for helping others become gospel-centered, Kingdom-driven, disciple-making followers of Jesus. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.