LESSON 8 - SERVING THE MASTER (MATTHEW 25 & LUKE 16)
Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard.
INTRODUCTION: This week our study is parables that teach us about
being good stewards. "Steward," is not a common term today. It
sounds like someone on a cruise ship or a union business agent. A
more common term today would be agent or employee. We will study
today about being the Lord's employees!
I. TALENTED EMPLOYEES.
A. My brother told me of a former executive in his office that
always left work just after the owner of the business left.
It didn't matter whether the owner left late or left at 2:00
p.m., this employee went home.
1. What does this single fact tell you about this
2. What about you? Does it make any difference to you
whether "the boss" is in the office or not? Do you have
a different attitude towards your work when your boss is
a. If so, why?
b. Do you even notice when your boss is present?
3. Do you feel that your heavenly "Boss" is present and
B. In Matthew 24:3 the disciples ask Jesus about His Second
Coming and the end of the world. Jesus tells them about the
signs of the end of the world and then starts telling a series
of parables about what it means to be ready when He comes
again. Open your Bible to Matthew 25:14 and we will read the
third in this series of parables on being ready for the Lord's
return. Read Matt. 25:14-15.
1. Does the employer start out on the wrong foot by
giving the employees different amounts? Isn't it
discrimination to give the employees different amounts?
a. Why does he do it? (v.15: "according to his
ability." Some push egalitarian ideas that just do
not square with reality. Jesus recognized that not
everyone was the same, with the same ability.)
2. Is the "one talent" an insult? (A talent, "adjusted
for inflation," is about $250,000! No one here should
have been insulted. The master left 1.25 million, 500,000
and 250,000 dollars!)
a. What is Christ's purpose in making these amounts
so large in His story? (He wants to convey the idea
that each one of us has a tremendous amount of
ability, even if we are "one talent" people.")
C. Let's read on: Matthew 25:16-18. The five and 2 talent
guys seem to have done the same thing. So let's compare the 5
and 1 talent guys.
1. Eliminate from your mind the conclusion to the story.
I want you, as investment counsellors, to give me the
"pros and cons" for the "investment strategy" of these
a. What is the "upside" and the potential "downside"
for the five talent investment strategy? (He "put
his money to work." That means he invested it in
some project. This carried the risk that he could
lose it! The upside was that he could earn more,
the downside was that he was taking a risk.)
(1) Alright, you investment pros. The five
talent guy had a 100% return on his
investment! What does that tell you about the
extent of the risk he was taking? (High risk!
Compare Matt. 25:27.)
b. What is the "upside" and the potential "downside"
for the one talent investment strategy? (If you
just bury it, you do not risk losing it. You
eliminate the downside. You also eliminate the
upside. The bottom line is that you make no
difference one way or the other. You do not lose
the money and you do not gain any more money.)
c. Is there a spiritual lesson here?
D. Read Matt. 25:19-28. The master returns!
1. One servant makes a million and the other servant
"only" makes 500,000. Does that matter? (No. Absolute
equality in result is not required (because not everyone
starts out with the same "resources"). Instead, Jesus
rewards both equally because they were both developing
all their resources.)
2. Remember we started out saying these are parables that
describe the second coming? The returned master says to
these two servants "I will put you in charge of many
things." What does that tell us about heaven? (It tells
us first that heaven is real life. No floating on
clouds. We have activities to keep us occupied and
challenged. Second, it tells us that what we do here has
an impact upon our level of "authority" in heaven. Third,
it tells us that our level of "authority" in heaven does
not turn on the number of talents we were born with
3. What does "Mr. Digger," the one talent man, have to
say for himself?
a. Who is to blame for his failure to produce? Our
lesson (Monday) says the servant was fearful.
Maybe he has a "condition" that makes him fearful
of risk-taking? Maybe the master should have known
his servants better and not given this fearful
fellow any responsibility? (Nothing has changed in
2000 years! Mr. Digger's failure, according to
Digger, is the master's fault!)
b. Does the master say,"I'm sorry Mr. Digger, you
are completely right about your condition. I
should not have put you in such a position?" (v.26:
"You wicked, lazy servant.")
4. Notice in v.26 the Master seems to admit the
criticisms that Digger has made of Him. What is the
Master's point of saying "I harvest where I have not
shown?" (Digger knew his obligations.)
5. The Master says that Digger could have put his money
on deposit in the bank and earned interest. Would that
have been "good enough?"
a. Would a banking deposit avoid the label "lazy?"
b. How about "wicked?" (The master could have left
his money with a banker and gotten interest.
Therefore, Digger really lost the Master money by
putting it in a hole. He was, as a practical
matter, stealing from his Master.)
E. This is a parable about us. What is todays equivalent of:
1. Digging a hole and putting the money in it?
2. Depositing the money with bankers?
3. Getting a 100% return?
(Digging a hole means you do nothing with your talents. Depositing
with bankers is the equivalent of giving your money to allow others
to do the work. It is essentially passive. A 100% return means
that you are personally involved (now -- v.16) in advancing the
kingdom with your time and money. You do not care that the "Boss"
is out of the "office" and has not yet landed!)
F. Reread v. 28 and add v. 29 & 30. The final verses are
1. Is the one talent guy saved? (No. He clearly misses
2. Digger's one talent gets given to the five (now ten)
talent guy. How does that happen? (Once again, this seems
to give us an insight into heaven. Those who have
talents here, but do not use them for the Lord, will be
lost. But those who use their talents here will have
more of them in heaven!)
G. Let's talk just a moment about where you have set your
sights. Assume we all lived in some 3rd world country and
none of us had cars. We walked everywhere. We were told that
if we worked hard, we would all get cars. Even better, and
more unbelievable, we are told that we will have our car for
life! No more walking! Our "sights" would be set on a car --
any car, right?
1. What if I told you that some of the cars were Yugos,
some were Pintos, some were Ladas, some were Mercedes,
Lincolns and Cadillacs. If you are talking about a car
for life!, does it make a difference?
2. I think we need to raise our sights. Instead of
saying, "I just hope I make it (to heaven)," we should
say, "I have assurance of salvation, my goal now is to
get to heaven with as many talents as possible! By
putting myself last now, I will be first then.")
a. Do you feel uneasy about talking about being
"first" in heaven? (If you do, tell me you feel
uneasy about being promoted at work and I might
believe you are sincere.)
b. Is this little talk inconsistent with appears to
be an equal reward in vv. 21 & 23? (Perhaps.
Consider this. Both the 2 and 5 talent guys were
entrusted with "charge of many things." The Master
does not specify what "many" means in each case.
However, v.28 specifically gives the one talent to
(the now) ten talent guy. He does not split it
with Mr. 4 talent.)
II. THE CLEVER SERVANT
A. Turn with me to Luke 16. Read vv.1-2. What is the charge
against the manager? (Wasted employer's possessions.)
1. Was it true? (Seems he was told the outcome of the
"hearing" before it was held.)
B. Read v.3. What kind of life had this manager led? (He was
an office worker! A "proud" office worker.)
C. What would you do if faced with these circumstances?
D. Let's read what our manager did. Read vv.5-7.
1. What do you think of this approach?
2. Remember, these were outstanding bills. Is there any
merit to this approach?
a. Why did he say (v.6) "sit down quickly" and
redraft your bill)? (Without the consent of the
employer, this kind of deal-making is dishonest.
However, he probably got the bill paid. His real
goal though, was to advance his own interests.)
E. Read vv. 8-9. The Bible clearly tells us that what this
manager did was dishonest. Yet Jesus says that the owner
"commended" the dishonest manager. What is going on here?
1. Why would Jesus tell this story of all things?
F. Our Pastor is a planner. He has all sorts of ideas.
While I was on vacation I read an article that attacked
detailed planning and suggested that simply focusing on
preaching and a relationship with the members was the key.
Another article I read spoke of having the church avoiding the
kind of "marketing" approach used by the world.
1. What does this parable say about planning? (This story
is "exhibit A" for putting together the very best plans
to promote the kingdom.)
2. How do we use "worldly wealth" to "gain friends" so we
will be welcomed into heaven?
3. Would "Digger" like this story? After all, this
manager was called "dishonest." (Digger was "wicked.")
(This story says that we should use our money to promote
the kingdom -- just like the five talent man. More to
the point, we should use our brains as much as possible
to work most efficiently.)
III. NEXT WEEK: "True Love." The parable of the Good Samaritan.