LIFE WITHOUT REGRETS Matthew 25:24-28
Theme of the Month Ministry/Service/ Stewardship
Rev. Alfred Kong
Guest Speaker, English Congregation Vancouver Chinese Baptist Church, Vancouver, British Columbia
Sunday Sermon for 12 September 2010
Scripture Passage Matthew 25:24-28
“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. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 24
“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? 27 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. 26
“‘Take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.’”
Introduction: Powerless Over Life Good Morning, dear brothers and sisters of VCBC. God is so good to me and my wife Josephine that we can worship Him with you together here this morning. May God bless every heart that draws near to Him. Recently, there were a lot of natural disasters happened in China, Pakistan, and Thailand. On the TV, we felt sad to witness the flooding destroyed a lot of houses and carried away many lives. Of course, in such an extreme situations, men are powerless and fragile before the gigantic natural forces. However, it’s sorrowful to see that even in daily life, many people seem quite helpless towards their own lives. It’s true that man isn’t powerful to do everything, but anyone can at least do something right with ones own life. Unfortunately, many people are powerless over their own lives not because of their inability, but because of their ignorance about themselves or their wrong mentality toward their own lives.. In the scriptures we just read, it’s about a familiar story of three servants. From the bad experience of the third servant, who received just one talent, Jesus reminded us to be careful about our mentality or attitude toward our lives, with which we may eventually lead ourselves into happiness or misery. According to Jesus, the third servant had three wrong mentalities toward his life and work. THREE WRONG ATTITUDES
I. “Have Nothing At All” Firstly, this servant kept saying that he had nothing at all. In 25:24, this servant protested against his master “you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed”. According to the third servant, it seemed that his master gave nothing to him. However, his complain was not true at all. In fact, these three servants were originally the slaves. During those days, the poor person who could not support himself or his family might “sell” himself or his family members out to a rich family as slaves. Please, note that on those days, slavery system in Palestine run under Mosaic Law was somewhat a social security system, in order for the poor to get means for survival. And those slaves would be set free from slavery after a certain period of time. From the story Jesus told us, the master not only provided these three slaves with daily basic necessities, but also a sum of money for their management. Obviously, their master entrusted each of them with different funds. In other words, this servant complaining he had nothing was not only lying, but also preventing himself from having a good performance with what he was entrusted. India is a country with a belief in Pantheism. You will find temples everywhere worshipping different gods or goddesses. There was a temple of an unknown god. Many worshippers visited there. A young beggar got a good position at the gate of the temple. Of course, he got a lot of money from the visitors of this temple. After a long period of time, this beggar became very old and died eventually. The management committee of the temple would like to bury this beggar on LIFEWITHOUTREGRETS 2
that very spot where he occupied nearly throughout his whole life. Amazingly, during the burial process, the people found that there was a treasure below the ground surface where the beggar once stood on. Can you imagine, what would have happened to the beggar if he could have known that there was a treasure hidden beneath the very ground he was on for such a long time? Brothers and sisters, you know in our world there are many people who keep complaining they have nothing at all. However, they really don’t notice what they already have from God, the generous creator. II. “Unfair to Me” Secondly, according to the story, the servant with one talent buried the fund under the ground. Why? Of course, this servant gave an excuse that he did so because of his fear of any loss. But, to me, this servant might think that the master seemed to play favoritism, so that he was given less. In other words, this servant tried to compare himself with other servants. Frankly speaking, during our childhood, our parents may use to compare us with our relatives or neighbours. So, we get used to comparing ourselves with others throughout our lives. But, comparison always gives birth to insecurity, unhappiness and even jealousy and hatred. Furthermore, comparison may stir up our subjective emotions that may blind our eyes to see what we have already had. A little story tells that a small boy went to buy ice-cream. He got a small one with one scoop of ice-cream. As he began to enjoy his ice-cream, he saw another boy with an ice-cream of bigger size (with two scoops of ice-cream). The first boy stared the bigger size ice-cream with great admiration. After the second boy had finished his ice-cream, the first one stopped staring, came back to himself. As he was about to enjoy his small ice-cream, he was startled to find that his small ice-cream completely disappeared. In fact, while he concentrated his attention on the other’s ice-cream, his own ice-cream was melting away. It’s really a great tragedy in our lives that we sometimes fail to enjoy what we have focusing solely on what others have. So, be careful about our keen sense of comparison. Besides, I also want to point out another blind spot this servant had. That is, he misunderstood the kind consideration that the master had for his servants. The third servant supposed that the master belittled his ability, so gave less to him. However, he didn’t see that the master distributed his funds according to the strength of different servants. If the master gives all three servants the same amount, that is, same responsibility, demand, and pressure, will it be fair to the three of them? Jesus reminds us that everyone gets his own and unique cross to bear on earth. It’s so sad to see that misunderstanding paralyzes our motivation to do good work, like the third servant. III. “Too Insignificant” The third wrong attitude the third servant had was that he felt what he received from the master was too little and too insignificant. Of course, as he tried to compare the amount the master entrusted him with other servants, he might nurture the strong sense of inferiority and unhappiness. He might then tell himself that what he had was too little and insignificant. That means, the amount is too small to make any impact. So, he found a good excuse to put it aside.
In our lives, we must be careful about the “small potato” mentality effect. If we adopt such a mentality, we may become negative and pessimistic towards nearly everything. In fact, “small potato” mentality is not a kind of humility, but a kind of depressing and destructive attitude, which keeps telling ourselves to give up trying in our lives. And it may eventually brings about great loss to our lives and our world. Of course, we may have less or limited resources in our lives, but there are still a lot of opportunities for us to achieve, or to make an impact with it. It is true that most of the times we fail not because other tells us so, but because we see ourselves as a failure. From the Bible, we can find many examples where God used those “small potatoes” and “nobodies” according to the world’s measure, for His great works. Please, don’t belittle what we have and what we do, because God doesn’t look down on anyone of us who are willing to serve Him with our lives which He entrusted us. Conclusion: Trust-worthiness These three servants were so fortunate to have such a generous master, who entrusted them with his own money and trust. The master gave them freedom to make use of these entrusted funds It’s sad to see that the third servant disappointed his master not only because he had nothing in return for his master, but also his misunderstanding of the good intention of his master. Here, I want to conclude my sermon with a moving story of two brothers. The elder was a businessman, and wise enough to make a lot of money. The younger brother was a builder, who barely earned a living. One day, the elder brother asked the younger one to help him to build a new house with following requirements: a first-class architect, skillful workers and best building materials. The younger brother was very happy to accept this job offer. However, he tried to find a second-class architect, unskilled workers, and cheaper building materials for the new house construction instead. Soon, the construction of the new house was completed. On the hand-over day, the younger brother received a check for the payment for a first-class architect, skillful workers, best building materials, and the building supervision. As the younger brother was about to leave, his elder brother asked him to wait for a moment. To his great surprise, his elder brother told him that he decided to give this new house to him as a gift. At this very moment, the younger brother felt so regretful for what he did with the new house. Dear brothers and sisters, how about our lives? What shall we do with our lives that our God entrusts us?