Messages from Pastor Raddatz

November 15, 2020 Mount Olive Lutheran, Houston TX, Other texts for the day: Zephaniah 1:7-16 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11


Matthew 25:14-30

Dear Servants of God,

Introduction: Have you ever admired someone who had talent? 

It can be an amazing thing to watch someone with talent.  The science of skill acquisition has been the focus of a number of recent studies and books. As it turns out, we are born with very few, if any, natural talents and skills. Excellence is borne not of any particular innate ability, but of practice. In other words, you can be good at whatever you want. The Truth Behind Natural-Born Talent - Goins,


Parables are like stories that teach the truth and can cause the listener to search for answers

This parable of Jesus is a made-up story found in Matthew 25:14-30.  Parables are a picture stories that can raise more questions than answer questions.  THIS PARABLE IS FOR SELF EXAMINATION.   In Lutheran circles this is called the second use of the law -Bul’s Notes.  It reminds us that the law always accuses.  We are called to remember that WHEN JESUS ASCENDED TO THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, HE HAS GIVEN GIFTS TO INDIVIDUALS.  We will be called upon to give an accounting of how we used these gifts of God.


Matthew 25:14 Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

And a footnote in the RSV:  "This talent was more than fifteen years' wages of a laborer."

This parable about the talents emphasizes what the Kingdom of God is like.  You can find in any church people who are gifted by God and used by God in amazing ways.  The analogy is to recognize that God gives individuals enough to carry on his calling which is to follow him, no matter how tough life gets.

In Bible times: The talent was an exceptionally large sum of money. It was equal to 15 years of wages. The application to us is: The spiritual, mental, physical and psychological gifts which God apportions to the individual Christian are priceless and precious. Our Lord gives no one more than he can handle nor less than his ability requires. The distribution is truly manifold. One observes this everywhere in the Church. -Bul’s Notes


God gives abilities or talents, and it is up to God and you how you will use them

When this parable says the master has gone on a long journey it means “Jesus has ascended to heaven”.  Just as he gave gifts of money to his servants, he gives us gifts of his grace to carry on the work of God in the world.  TWO OUT OF THREE OF THE SERVANTS USED THE TALENTS THAT THE MASTER GAVE AND GOD BLESSED THEM 100%.  These two servants were also invited to, “Enter into the joy of your Master”.  THE THIRD SERVANT IN VERSE 18, went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. This is like the story of a man who said, . . .

. . . "If I had some extra money, I'd give it to God, but I have just enough to support myself and my family." And the same man said, "If I had some extra time, I'd give it to God, but every minute is taken up with my job, my family, my clubs, and what have you--every single minute." And the same man said, "If I had a talent I'd give it to God, but I have no lovely voice; I have no special skill; I've never been able to lead a group; I can't think cleverly or quickly, the way I would like to."

And God was touched, and although it was unlike him, God gave that man money, time, and a glorious talent. And then He waited, and waited, and waited.....And then after a while, He shrugged His shoulders, and He took all those things right back from the man, the money, the time and the glorious talent. After a while, the man sighed and said, "If I only had some of that money back, I'd give it to God. If I only had some of that time, I'd give it to God. If I could only rediscover that glorious talent, I'd give it to God."

And God said, "Take his talent away and give it to someone else” (my addition).

And the man told some of his friends, "You know, I'm not so sure that I believe in God anymore."  God is No Fool, 1969, Abingdon Press.


If you do not use your talent or gift from God, you could have the gift taken away and you could be cast away from the Lord.

The servant who went and hid the talent God gave him operated from fear and laziness!  Verse 28 and following reminds us that if we do not use our talents they can be taken away and given to someone else: “So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.  But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

If we neglect what we have been given, we could be cast away from the Lord!  Verse 30 tells us this, “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  THIS DESCRIBES HELL: A PLACE WHERE THE LORD IS ABSENT AND A PLACE OF SUFFERING.  This is the place where mercy is absent.

  What a text for self-examination! Lord, is it me?  Have I been unfaithful and lazy?  For Jesus' sake forgive my fears, my lies, my uselessness. -Bul’s Notes. Amen

In verse 21, “WELL DONE” is not in regard to our efforts.  We suggest:  "good, namely faithful." In what sense is a Christian good? Not morally, because both the Old Testament and the New Testament say that man is not good. Compare Psalm 14:1-3 and Romans 3:10-12. No man is good but only God is good -Bul’s Notes.  God declares us good because of Christ who lived the perfect life in our place!


Closing: God gives us a calling (vocation) and it is important that we turn from laziness and fear and turn to God who gives us strength and courage

It can be extremely easy for us to blame others when we experience loss.  Have you ever gone on a hike and lost some of your resources?  Sometimes the loss allows you to carry a LIGHTER LOAD!   This happened to a missionary hiking into the bush.  After one night’s sleep, they found most of their resources taken by a thief.  They decided to walk on with a lighter load and were able to make their destination in quicker time than if their packs were full!   Lloyd C. Douglas, in The Living Faith, wrote:

How we respond to "losing" some of our resources for God's work depends upon whether we are on the move or waiting for our last stand.


In the midst of pain and loss we are called to return to the Lord.  There is forgiveness in plenty.  God desires faithfulness!  This is what he said to the two servants who were actively using what God gave them, see vv. 21 and 23 of Matthew 25.

Last week I was paying my green fees to play golf at a local course.  The young woman who took my payment was wearing a Vietnam era Army top.  I told her I liked her vintage military shirt.  She said, “It was my Grandfather’s.  It’s from the Vietnam era.  He was first sent to Germany then he was to go straight on to Vietnam, but he stayed in Germany for all three years.”  I replied, “what a blessing!”  She went on, “Oh you haven’t heard the best thing yet.  My Grandfather was 6’ 8” tall.  In his first year in Germany he played basketball and the commander like winning all the Basketball games between him and other commanders. So, He changed his orders and he stayed in Germany for all three years and never made it to Vietnam!”  Wow!! 

This story reminded me, to use what you got! 

John Raddatz, Pastor

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