¡°YOU HAVE BEEN CHOSEN¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Matthew 25:14-30; John 15:16 January 19, 2014.
1) In political arena: In the month of November every other year, it is time for political election. On November 5, Americans will go to the poll to cast votes to elect their government leaders: presidents, senators, congressmen, state governors and different levels of local government officials. The way political leaders were elected democratically is seen as the best way the world may know. Today, most countries in the world practice this ¡°people power¡± way to choose their leaders. Only a very small number of governments are still under control by a small number of self-appointed dictators. Those who were elected enjoy recognized power and prestige. They have the titles of power and status over and above those who elected them.
2) In Christian church: In the church of Jesus Christ, people were also elected to serve various needs of the church. Over 2,000 years ago, Christian church elected their workers in a democratic way. (Acts 6) Those who were chosen to serve didn't have titles of honor or power, but have the privilege of serving in the ministries of the church as needed. These people were call ¡°deacons¡± which comes from a Greek word, deaconos, means ¡°the server.¡± With the background in Acts 6, they were servers of food, as waiters in restaurants in today's culture. Unlike the twisted title many church used to distinguish the few leaders with power and prestige, deacons are those who serve God and the people of God in churches. In our church, we have many real servers, those who serve without the mostly misleading title ¡°deacons.¡±
THE MINDSET OF SERVANTS:
1) The mindset of servant: ¡°The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.¡± (Matt 20:28) The mindset of servant-hood came first from the Lord Jesus Christ. While multitudes wanted to make him king of the Jews, to lead a revolt against the repressive Roman domination, Jesus proclaimed the purpose of his coming to this world: not to be a political or military leader, but to be the savior of the world. Jesus came to serve the ultimate need of the world, salvation of their souls. He had served with ultimate sacrifice, the giving up of his life. This mindset should be the mindset of all of us who have been chosen to serve in his church. We are not leaders of power or prestige, but servants to God and his people.
2) The status of servant: ¡°If we live, we live to the Lord,; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.¡± (Romans 14:8) Paul is recognized as one of the most dedicated servants in church history. His dedication was rooted from his understanding of his status: he was a servant of the Lord, totally belonged to Him. Some of us feel that we have the right to choose to serve or not to serve, depends on our life situation and personal choice. But the Bible tells us otherwise: We belong to the Lord in life or death. Jesus purchased us with his life, so we are his servants and need to see us as his property, bound servants who have no right of our own.
3) The property of servant: ¡°The kingdom is like a man going on a journey. He called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To he gave 5 talents of money, to another two talents and to another one talent.¡± (Matthew 25:14-15) Two important points here in these two verses: a) All that the servants have are from the master, the servants had nothing of their own. This is a very important point. We need to recognize that all we have are from God: life, strength, wisdom, opportunity, etc. Everything we may have is God's trust. If God doesn't trust us anything, we have nothing. He can give and he can take it back. b) Not all servants receive equal amount of trust. God gives us as he pleases. We cannot and should not compare anything to anyone else. God has the sovereignty of distributing his property and we need to be grateful of his trust, whatever it may be.
THE QUALIFICATIONS OF SERVANTS:
1) The basic qualification: ¡°The master replied: Well done! Good and faithful servant.¡± (Matt 25:21) Unlike qualifications employers seek to have in their employees such as education and experience, God wants to see different things in his servants: Good and faithful. Good refers to the inner quality of a man, his character, integrity and honesty. Today, many people who occupy positions of prestige and authority lack what God wants to see in them: good man. Many of the world leaders, political or business, they get to position of power and prestige by tricks, lies and manipulation. But God wants good men and women to serve in his church. In God's church, spiritual quality and character are lot more important than anything else. Faithfulness is about how they execute the duties God entrusted them: They need to be dedicated, hard working, up to the call of duty, putting the heart in what God wants us to do.
2) Excellent work ethics: ¡°The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gain five more.¡± (25:16) ¡°At once¡± is about timing. Good and faithful servants are not lazy bones but diligent in their duties. They get to work immediately with enthusiasm and diligence, not procrastinating. ¡°Putting money to work¡± means he knew what to do and did it wisely. He wanted to make profits for his master without excuses. Even though the money is not his money, he was faithful to work with whatever he received from his master. Putting this into our service in God's church. We all need to be diligent, faithful in the position and ministry we were elected to do so we can bring results, fruits, to God. This demands we take God's assigned duties seriously and willing to put in our heart, time and energy to work.
3) Sense of accountability: ¡°After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.¡± (25:19) This is a very important attitude in Christian service at God's church. Too many servants in churches hold the wrong attitude: I am only serve as a volunteer and not get paid by the church, so, I can do or not do whatever I want and no one can ask me to settle any account. If it is too much work or pressure, I can quit anytime. This is true today, but it isn't true when we see the Lord to settle account with him: Are you a good and faithful servant? Besides we need to be accountable to the church, we are ultimately accountable to God. Both God and the church need our faithful service to bring results.
THE REWARDS TO THE SERVANTS: Matthew 25:20-30
1) God exercises fairness: In this parable, we see the fairness of the master toward his servants: Since he didn't give identical amounts to all servants, he didn't ask for identical returns from them. The master only asked fair return of his trust either it is five talents or two talents. This is an important point we all need to heed: God is fair and just to all of us: Be faithful in what God has entrusted you and he demands results. Demanding results is important in service of all kind, including in the church. If we are faithful in using what God has given us, God will shower his blessing on us to harvest fruits. Too often, some Christian workers don't care about hard work or results.
2) Reward beyond dreams: ¡°Well done, good and faithful servant¡± the master replied.¡°You have been faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Com and share your master's happiness.¡± (25:21) In Luke 19:17 and 18, it added: the master put him in charge of ten cities. Most people think our rewards are spiritual and we won't see it until we go to heaven, that may be true. But that doesn't mean God couldn't reward your faithful service with blessings in this world like in charge of visible matters, material possessions, good health, happy marriage, good kids and good jobs or business. Think of what God can and will reward you for what you have done in serving God, it will inspire you to go further, do more, work harder and bring in more for him. Why are so many Christian quit serving God anytime they have some inconvenience or facing a tight schedule? Even if it is not for rewards serving God is a great joy because all the results will be recorded in heaven.
3) You get what you deserve: ¡°His master replied: You are a wicked and lazy servant. Take the talent from him and give to the one who has ten. Everyone who has will be given more and he will have abundance. Whoever doesn't have, even what he has will be taken from him. Throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness and he will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (25:26, 28-30) Wicked is in contrast of good. Lazy is in contrast of faithful. Both indicates the inside quality and the outside performance of men. Being lazy is being wicked, most Christians don't know or don't care. Being wicked and lazy servants is a terrible position to take. The loss of the wicked and lazy is also beyond our imagination. Don't you think God doesn't know or doesn't care, but He does and will repay what we deserve.
APPLICATOIN OF TRUTH: John 15:16
1) We are chosen to serve: ¡°You did not choose me but I chose you.¡± (15:16) Service in a church is not actually elected by the people, but chosen by God. God brings you to this church for a purpose, and a position of service. It is through your faithful service, we advance God's kingdom, save souls and teach new believers to grow in their spiritual life. How glorious it is to be the chosen one in the HALL OF FAME in sports, music or other activities in the world. How much more glory and blessing to be chosen by God to serve Him and his people in the church. Treasure the status and the opportunity with joy, honor and enthusiasm, put in your best and wait for your rewards.
2) Harvest the fruits of service: ¡°I appointed you to go and bear fruit¡ªfruit that will last.¡±(15:16b) In all our life, we always serve someone or something and that is good. But none of our earthly service may bring anything to heaven, even the most honorable service like those in political, academic or science, music, art or anything else. None is worthy to be stored in heaven. Only the service we render to the Lord through his church are things we may see in heaven because we serve God. Don't forget you have a home to go to in heaven. Don't work so hard and store so much in this world like that rich fool in the Bible. Work for fruits that will last to eternity. Be wise!!!