Sermon Delivered December 20, 1997

by Pastor Donald Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Reach Your Potential

One day I took a walk with several church members up to the grand summit of Grindstone mountain. In a remote section I noticed a small patch of beautiful and fragrant flowers. They flourished in the middle of weeds and rocks. Almost completely camouflaged and unnoticed, yet these flowers were blooming in full resplendence and we experienced their contribution to our being.

All of us have met unnoticed persons, who live in the middle of struggle and hardship. They are far from the center of attention yet they live lives of beauty and fragrance. There in that obscurity they faithfully fulfill God's calling for them. God's question on the last day will not be, "How much were you noticed?" or even "How much did you do?" Rather, His question will be, "Were you faithful in fulfilling your calling where I placed you?" Did you try? Did you do your best?

It really does not matter what title or prestigious position you have. Just do your best where you are. When Jesus comes someday soon, He will say, "Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things." Matt 25:21 (All texts are from the NIV.)

What are you doing with your talents? Use it or lose it. The development of all our powers is the first duty we owe to God and to our fellow-men.

What a challenge we have in possessing qualities and attributes on loan from God! Go ahead and produce bountiful quantities of prizewinning blooms even if all your neighbors are producing weeds. Succeed where God plants you.

Matthew 25:14 begins a parable about the TALENTS. "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them." Three servants were given eight talents.

A talent was not a coin. It was a WEIGHT! About 60 pounds. The value depended on what metal was involved.....Copper, Silver, or Gold. One Talent of Silver today might be worth over $3000.

Notice that they were all bond servants or SLAVES. I Corinthians 6: 19b-20: "You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Not with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ." (I Peter 1:18-19) We are the property of Jesus. He redeemed us for service. We are servants of God.

When an owner places something of value into the hands of one of his servants, He wants it used to benefit His kingdom. For Christians, the true object of life is ministry. You are all in the ministry. Jesus came down to this old sinful world and was born in a manger to serve others. Jesus placed the package of eternal life under each and everyone's Christmas tree. That supreme gift can be yours today if you accept Jesus as your very own personal Saviour.

In Matthew did you notice that everybody got a minimum of at least one talent? We all have a spiritual gift. Actual possession depends upon our reception of the Holy Spirit. So each of the three servants in Jesus parable had the Holy Spirit.

We don't all have the same talents. God gives us according to our abilities. What matters is not how much talent we have but what we do with it. We don't have equal talent, but we can have equal effort. The punishment is given to the one who will not even try.

Matthew 25:16,17: "The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more."

The TWO Talent man: He did not do all that was possible for him to do. We must exercise our God given abilities. Make the most of every opportunity to use your talents. Let me illustrate how we misuse or even bury talent today:

"I'll teach in the Sabbath School but don't expect me to visit the kids in their homes."

"I was asked to serve as a leader in the church but I don't want to be tied down on a regular program." "I was asked to help with Pathfinders but don't expect me to attend all the camp-outs."

"I will study my Bible but don't expect me to pray like a prayer warrior."

Utilize the talent that God has entrusted to you.

The two talent man did double his holdings. This sounds like capitalism. Effort will be rewarded. You can accumulate according to your work. As SDA Christians, we can grow to be Christ like. Over the years we can be sweeter, more patient, more like the heavenly beings we will soon be friends with.

Don't do as Person number three did with his one talent. Matthew 25:18 "But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money."

Have you ever dug a hole and placed valuable treasure inside it and covered it up? As a boy I did, and years later I could not find the exact spot and the valuable things are still there as far as I know. The one talent man is fortunate to have found his talent.

The action of the Negligent Servant is so typical. Did he have any talent? Yes! One good one. Each of us has a talent. That sets our potential. Through hard stern efforts with self (coupled with the blessing and power of God) you can develop your one gift.

In Jesus day, the one talent man represented the Pharisees and Scribes. The Negligent servant buried the talent so that he could return it exactly as it was. The Pharisee tried to keep the law exactly as it was... to fence it in. They had paralysis of belief. When Jesus came He sought to expand the meaning of the law to these people with shut minds.

Let me ask you a Question: Which would be the best for the one talent man-- to invest his money and lose it all, or bury it? He was punished for not trying. His sin was not in his MISUSE, but his DISUSE of that which his master entrusted to him.

I am asking you to invest your talent that it may double in value for God. Christians ought to be doubly good as the years go by. But this takes thoughtful regular effort. Invest time in your spiritual life. Pray. Build strength into your life in 1998. Read the Bible through in 1998. Every day dedicate your remaining time to becoming more like Jesus.

There are so many talents: Faithfulness, Fruitfulness, Time, Accountability, Industriousness, Means, Dependability, Mental Power, Reason, Strength, Tenderness of Heart. Vol. 5, Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, p.1100

If you have been a born again Christian for say 10 or 20 years and you are still a grouch.... And you are still picky and cantankerous.... then you have buried your talent! Get over it! Time is so short. Get down on your knees and pray in earnest with God for a new heart. You need it. God longs to give you a new heart. Ezekiel 36: 26: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh."

If over the years you are still a grump, then you are probably lost. Notice what happens when we do not grow. When there is no Christ-like development God will remove His gift from you.

Matthew 25:24-27: "Then the man who had received the 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 (Thought) that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? (Is that what you thought about me?) 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. Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents'."

The reward for success is more success. Faithful servants are never told to rest on their oars. They are given even more responsibilities. If you don't use your talent you lose it. This is universally true of playing the violin, typing, sending Morse code, preparing sermons, or thinking. The only way to maintain your proficiency is be active in the service of God or your fellow man. Burying your talent is a sin.

Matthew 25:29 "For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

What you do with small things, you will soon begin to do if you are given big things. The one talent man proved his character. It is dishonest to go to Taco Bell and stuff your pockets with extra packets of sauce to take home. A small snowball rolls down the mountain until a great avalanche develops. The little things of life reveal what we are becoming.

Matthew 25:30, "Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Judgment quickly descended on the negligent servant.

Let's be honest with small things. Let's invest our one talent for Jesus. If you are not becoming more and more like Jesus and using your God given abilities for others, your reward will be taken away from you and given to another.

We are either maturing to be more like Jesus or we are lost! So many are baptized and join the church but they do not nourish the spark that God placed in them. Their attendance begins to drop off. Soon they sit at home. They are just hanging on. The potential they have is not cultivated. Their talent is buried.

Matthew 25:27 - God wants the talent back with INTEREST. Interest is called the Offspring of invested money. Interest is the child of the investment. Are the talents that God has given to you childless?

2 Cor 2:14-16: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

Someday God will reward us for the time and faithful use of our talents. Matthew 25:19 - "After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them." (Then to the two wise workers:) 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!'"

An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years and were returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they were defeated, discouraged, and afraid. They discovered they were booked on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.

They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President's entourage. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, "Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us, it doesn't seem right."

When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. But no one noticed this missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping to see what they could do to make a living in the city.

That night the man's spirit broke. He said to his wife, "I can't take this; God is not treating us fairly." His wife replied, "Why don't you tell it to the Lord?" A short time later he came out from the bedroom a changed man.

"The Lord settled it with me, I told him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, 'But you're not home yet!'" -- Ray Stedman, Talking to My Father

There are grand rewards for faithfulness, but not necessarily down here. You may be struggling today harder than at any time in your life, but do not give up on God.

Someday over yonder up in the skies, heaven will be prepared for a palatial homecoming. You will be the honored guest of a One Billion member choir. You will step through the gates of pearl onto parkways of transparent gold. Jesus will welcome you home. All this will be your reward if you build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 3:11-14, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward."

After Christmas we begin a brand new year, 1998. With Jesus as your Saviour and with your efforts combined with His power, you can reach your God given Potential.

 Opening Song: #122 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing 
Text: Matthew 25:19-21 
Closing Song: #125 Joy to the World


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