There is an ethos woven into the American holiday season that seems to be optimally designed to pull us towards the black hole of material consumption. We just seem to notice all of the stuff we NEED this time of year. New clothes, electronics, the new car in the driveway with a bow on the hood, it’s everywhere around us and will be for another 6 weeks. It’s hard to argue that something in our hearts responds to material goods and money. While none of those things are inherently evil, if we don’t keep a close watch on the hold they have over our hearts, they can be toxic to our soul.
When we look at God’s word, there isn’t necessarily a prohibition on wealth or material gain, there is an absolute, clear attitude we are to hold towards money and material goods as Christ followers. Everyone who follows Christ is called to be audaciously generous. Everything we are given has been given with a purpose. When we aren’t open handed and generous, that purposes isn’t fulfilled and has the potential to be devoured by our impulses, desires and even sometimes greed. One of the most effective ways we can battle the soul decaying sin of greed is to be generous with what we have been given. Do we see what we have as ours to enjoy, or as a gift to steward for the glory of God and the joy of those around us?
Over the next 4 weeks, we are going to look at four different aspects of generosity, why they are important and how we can implement practical changes in those areas within our day to day lives. Let’s begin to prepare our hearts and ask God to help us open our hands and experience a new level of generosity in our lives.
This is one of the more complex parables found in the teachings of Jesus. It seems like there are some themes and messages that could contradict other teachings of Jesus, so what is going on here? This passage does not teach that we are saved or justified by works, but rather our works reveal the state of our hearts. Grace comes before works, but without grace and faith, our works will be less than their full potential. The ultimate sin of servant, one talent was still a significant amount of money, was that he hid it. What we’ve been given is not to be buried. We aren’t simply waiting for Jesus to come back in a bunker, there is work to do while we are here! What do you have that you could be using for the good of the kingdom?
The Church is a place of trade, the noblest and the richest.—The principles of commerce with spiritual gifts: 1. As regards God: giving up all, to gain all. 2. As it respects our neighbor: to give is more blessed than to receive. 3. As it respects ourselves: to gain the one thing needful in exchange for many things. 4. As it respects the world: to give up the visible for the invisible.—Trading with spiritual gifts the most perilous and yet the safest commerce.—The praise and the reward of the faithful servants of Christ in the hour of reckoning: 1. The praise, of having been faithful over a little; 2. the reward, of being set over much, and of entering into the joy of the Lord.—The end of our spiritual work a divine rest forever, a Sabbath of God.—The wicked servant; or, let no man undervalue the gift which God has entrusted to him.
Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Matthew (p. 445). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
But "safe" as this conduct may be, there is a lack of adventure in it, an unwillingness ness to take risks, a preoccupation with one's own security, which Jesus clearly dislikes. likes. This piety is too unworldly, too withdrawn, too removed from the secular to please the earthly Jesus who sends disciples into the world to disciple it (28:19), puts salt into the meat to season it (523), and brings light into the room to give light to all who are in it (5:14-16; cf. Mark 4:21). Talents mean mission.
Frederick Dale Bruner. Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28 (Kindle Locations 10397-10400). Kindle Edition.
Shane Doan 5 minutes
In our current cultural moment, talking about money and the church is awkward at best. There is a well founded concern that the church is only about money, and sadly, there have been a few public examples of churches not handling money well. However, the mistakes of a few do not override the commands of scripture. Giving to the church is one of the primary ways we can regularly fulfill the scripture we examined in week 1. It’s also one of the best practices of generosity we can engage in. God has chosen the church to be his instrument in the world. When we give regularly to the church, we come alongside God’s mission in the world through our generosity.
6:19 “Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 6:20 But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 6:23 But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Biblical Studies Press. (2005). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Mt 6:19–24). Biblical Studies Press.
Chrysostom, 81:4:489, saw that the covetous do not really enjoy what they have for two reasons: sons: "by reason of not feeling confident about the security of them, and because with their whole mind they are [still] intent upon what they have not yet seized." Ezekiel saw this even earlier (Ezek 7:19). Schlatter, Das Evangelium, 99-loo, comments: We want treasures because cause they give us security. But because of decay (moth, rust, thieves, etc.), treasures lead us to security's opposite, anxiety. Because our riches bring us into a constant war with decay, they do not bring us rest. It is a great service of Jesus, therefore, to liberate us here from anxiety about gain. Jesus' ethic is the true liberation theology. Jesus' teaching on money has cultural and proverbial parallels: "Money is round and rolls away." "With the great part of rich people, the chief employment of riches consists in the parading of riches" (Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations). "To be clever enough to get all that money, one must be stupid enough to want it" (G.K.Chesterton, The Innocence of Father ther Brown). "There are two ways to have enough money: one is to acquire more; the other is to desire less" (Chesterton).
Frederick Dale Bruner. Matthew: A Commentary. Volume 1: The Christbook, Matthew 1-12 (Kindle Locations 6436-6440). Kindle Edition.
We aren’t called to just be generous with the concrete, tangible possessions we are given. We are called to be generous relationally as well. One of the most overlooked (and most difficult) asset under our control to be generous with is our forgiveness. When we dig into scripture this week, we will be confronted with an uncomfortable reality-forgiveness isn’t an optional activity for Christ followers. In multiple places the bible clearly teaches that our love for the people around us is directly connected to our love for God and our understanding of forgiveness is closely linked to our understanding of how we have been forgiven by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. How generous are you with your forgiveness?
18:26 "So the servant fell on his face, revered him, and said, `Please be patient with me, and I will pay back everything!"' The servant would need countless lives to pay back everything. The debt is so immense that it is humanly unpayable. But the servant's plea and his "everything" may indicate either contrition (Bengel, 1:230) or that he still doesn't "get it." If the man's contrition is genuine, then brokenheartedness heartedness is promised the kingdom earlier in the Gospel (B 2, Matt 5:4), not, as we saw, as a matter of course but as a matter of grace. If the man is simply callously uncomprehending, the case is less hopeful. Henry, 264, thinks that the man, though guilty, was suspiciously unconcerned about the immensity of his guilt "till he was [just now] called to account. Sinners," Henry concludes, "are commonly careless about the pardon of their sins till they come under the arrests of some awaking word, some startling providence, or approaching death" We see the connection tion with the preceding Confrontation Story and are reminded again of David's need for Nathan's confrontation in order to "get it"
Frederick Dale Bruner. Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28 (Kindle Locations 4714-4716). Kindle Edition.
18:28 "Now when that servant got outside, he found one particular fellow-servant servant who owed him several hundred dollars, grabbed him by the neck, was choking him, and said, `You pay back everything you owe me!"' This behavior is as incomprehensible prehensible as everything else in the story. A king's zillion-dollar forgiveness would surely produce a zillion-dollar patience in the forgiven one with all future petty debtors, would it not? Jesus' choice of a "several-hundred dollar" debt says exactly how Peter can forgive seventy-seven times: in the light of an immense forgiveness giveness a human being should be able to put up with almost anything. "Our guilt before God is unendingly greater than any other person's guilt can be before us" (Schniewind) 202). "He who considers his own sins is more indulgent to his fellow-servant" (Chrysostom) 61:5:380). But the less we appreciate the king's forgiveness - and appreciate is an almost most exact synonym for believe - the less we will forgive. "He who is forgiven little tle loves little" (Luke 7:47 RSV). And though this servant has been forgiven much, when this much is not much appreciated there is danger ahead. This parable is trying ing to teach us to be amazed by grace and so to be different people - seventy-seveners. seveners. "Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity" (Ps 103:2-3 RSV).
Frederick Dale Bruner. Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28 (Kindle Locations 4728-4733). Kindle Edition.
Mark Bailey 40 minutes
Scripture is clear that generosity is rewarded by God….that does not mean that if we do good things, God gives us money. A misunderstood interpretation of this scripture is the root of one of the vilest evils that has wrapped it’s tendrils around the church-the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel teaches that Jesus died so God could bless you materially with your “Best life now”. That’s simply not what this verse is talking about. When we are obedient, it pleases God and he blesses us. We should seek God’s blessing because it is a good thing. We get into trouble when we begin to try and dictate what God’s blessing means and what it should look like. We must seek to balance a proper understanding and expectation of what the bible says about how God blesses us with a discernment to beware of the false teaching that God’s ultimate goal is to give us health and wealth. Let us seek and enjoy the blessings of God in our lives as we are audaciously generous!
37-38 The economy asserted in v 35 is now fleshed out with reference to three parties–two explicit, one implicit. Jesus followers are to behave in certain ways toward others, and God will behave in seemingly symmetrical ways toward Jesus: followers. The symmetry is only apparent, since v 38b borrows imagery from the marketplace to show the extravagant generosity of God, now compared to a merchant who is neither stingy nor fair to himself but excessively fills the measuring vessel. the practices Jesus outlines follow immediately and grow out of the practices of God (vv 35d-36). Just as the merciful God does not predetermine who will or will not be the recipients of his kindness, so Jesus’ followers must refuse to “judge”–that is, to prejudge, to predetermine who might be the reipients of their graciousness. This is nothing but the command to love one’s enemies restated negatively. In an important sense, Jesus’ instructions are to refuse to act as those scribes and Pharisees had done in 5:27-32, as they calculated beforehand the status of those toll collectors and sinners and thereby excluded them from their circles of social interaction. By “forgive,” Jesus means “release” 63_that is, “release from obligations,” or “give, without expectation of return”; again, and throughout these two verses, Jesus stat3es negatively what has been assert4ed previously. The one difference is that the reciprocity denied in vv 32-35a has been restored, with one telling exception. Jesus’ followers give freely, without dragging others and especially those in need into the quagmire of never-ending cycles of repayment and liability. And God will lavishly repay them.
Joel B Green, The Gospel of Luke, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI
Francis Chan 2 Minutes