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Using our time, talents and treasure to bring glory to God by doing good, making beauty and sharing truth.

Toward the end of Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable of The Bags of Gold, as the NIV titles it. Jesus follows this up with a description of what it will be like when he returns to earth, sits on his glorious throne, and separates the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. I’m sure you know these stories, and have probably heard sermons on both these texts. I certainly have. But I have never heard a sermon that connects these two passages. This is unfortunate because they are clearly connected in Matthews gospel and surely in the mind of Jesus. I don’t think we can really understand one, without connecting it to the other.

The parable of the Bags of Gold, found in Matthew 25:14, tells of a master going away on a long journey. Before he leaves he calls three of his servants and gives them bags of gold to invest for him while he is gone. The amount he gives to each one is according to his ability. When he returns he is delighted to discover that two of his servants have doubled the amount of gold he gave them, and proclaims to each of them, “Enter into your masters joy.” The master is disappointed that the third servant hid the money in the ground, and there was no increase. The master rebukes the man, calling him wicked, lazy and worthless, and has him tossed out into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

After this parable, Jesus proceeds to tell the disciples that when he returns, he will judge humanity according to what they did and did not do. To those who helped people by feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, taking strangers in, ministering to the sick and visiting those in prison, he invites them to take their inheritance and enter into the kingdom of eternal life, because when they did good to those in need, they were doing good to him.

To those who did not help the needy, who did not do good to the “least of these”, he proclaims ” Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!”

I think God gives everyone three symbolic bags of gold, those being time, talent and treasure. To those who invest their bags of gold in doing good, making beauty and sharing truth for the glory of God, they will one day hear those delightful words, “Enter into your Masters happiness. Come into eternal life.”

Unfortunately, it seems most people use their bags of time, talent and treasure towards selfish ends. To advance their careers, improve their lifestyle and up their prestige. Sadly, one day they too will hear from the Master, King and Judge, but they will hear words of condemnation and enter eternal fire.

I love living in Oaxaca, Mexico, working at FFHM’s Home For Needy Children and working alongside so many brothers and sisters in Christ who have dedicated their time, talents and treasure to helping the least of these, the poorest of the poor. In our own ways we are doing good things for the kids (great meals, warm clothes, lots of play) making beautiful surroundings and beautiful lives (gardens and art work) and sharing the truth of the Gospel (as well as the truth of math, science and history at our elementary school).

I hope and pray that all Christians can find that happy niche in life where they joyfully give of their time, talents and treasure to do good, make beauty and share the truth of God’s love, all to God’s glory.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

I recently read Genesis 3 – The Fall. Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit. They disobey God’s one command. The results? Shame. They realize they are naked (7). Fear. “I was afraid, so I hid” (10).

God asks Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Adam replies, “The Woman YOU put here with me me-she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Adam moves from shame to blame. “Not my fault!” That’s what Adam is telling God, except he is also telling God that it is His fault. “YOU gave me that woman. If you wouldn’t have given me that woman, this wouldn’t have happened. How could you do such a terrible thing?”

I imagine Adam continuing. “And that tree. Why did you have to put that stupid tree here in the first place? We have this beautiful, perfectly nice garden here, and you have to go and ruin it with that tree. Oh yeah, we really needed a tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil!”

The rant goes on. “Maybe the tree isn’t what is so bad. What is bad is your rule. What were you thinking? Was that really necessary? Thou shalt not eat from that tree! If there was no rule there would be no disobedience. Did you ever think of that?”

Adam just can’t shut up. “And what’s up with this Free Will? If we didn’t have Free Will, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Couldn’t you have created us with a little less Free Will, or better yet, no Free Will? You could have tweaked that whole ‘made in the image of God’ thing so that we wouldn’t even give taking a bite from the forbidden fruit a second thought.”

Our family is going through a devotional called Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The author, Starr Meade, focuses on one question and answer for a week. This week is question 18, “What is sinful about Man’s sinful condition?”

The answer is, “The sinfulness of that fallen condition is twofold. First, in what is commonly called original sin, there is the guilt of Adam’s first sin with its lack of original righteousness and the corruption of his whole nature. Second are all the specific acts of disobedience that come from original sin.”

Meade writes, “We are guilty before God because of what we do and we are guilty before God because of what we are. We are human beings. Adam acted as the representative of all human beings when he rebelled against God, so all human beings became guilty. Adam passed on his guilt to all who came from him. We are all born guilty because of Adam.”

When God confronts us with our disobedience, we tend to follow Adam’s lead with blame and protests. God asks us, “Did you disobey my commands?”

We reply:

“Not my fault. I’m a descendant of Adam and Eve. Remember those two jokers who blew it for everyone in the Garden of Eden?”

“Not my fault. Original sin.”

“Not my fault. Corrupt nature”

“Not my fault. Imputed guilt.”

“Not my fault. Inherited bent toward sin.”

“Not my fault. The Devil made me do it.”

“Not my fault. I’m ignorant. I know not what I do.”

“Not my fault. I’m powerless to change my fallen state.”

In the 1993 comedy movie, Life With Mikey, starring Michael J. Fox, a young girl is caught pick pocketing. She is surrounded by a small crowd on the street with a policeman who finds two or three wallets in her possession. Michael J. Fox (Mikey) comes to her aid, pretending to be her father. Helpless, with no where to turn, she begins to cry and exclaims, “I’m bad. I know it daddy. I need help.”

When we are confronted with our sinfulness, lack of obedience, and rebellion, perhaps, instead of making excuses, blaming others or protesting, we too should just confess, “I’m bad. I know it Father. I need help.”

What’s going on inside of me?

I despise my own behavior

This only serves to confirm my suspicions

That I’m still a man in need of a savior

by Charlie Peacock

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