41 Missional Life (3)

That was a bright and sunny day; Sean was sitting in his backyard all by himself. He was lost in deep thought….Suddenly a squirrel jumped from one Maple branch to another one, scared away the Robin which used to perch on one of the branches, in turn shook off a few leaves……. Sigh! They were all red Maple leaves, it’s fall again! Why did I become so sentimental? Sean was asking himself, wasn’t I always optimistic and enjoyed life freely? Was it because of the visit to Steven’s graveyard and was stirred by the various epitaphs? Life is short, what am I doing on earth now? Should I just spend my whole life aimlessly with fun, or do I want to lead a more in-depth and meaningful life? Have I fully utilised what God has granted me to impact lives around me? Sean was thinking and pacing toward a nursing home nearby his house. All of a sudden, he had an urge to go inside and visit those helpless seniors; maybe it would help him to forget all his questions at the time being. 

There was a lonely old man sitting in a wheelchair in the garden near the main entrance, he was staring at the sky and groaning. Sean could not help walking toward him and said, “Hi, how are you? I am your neighbour and was just passing by, could I talk to you for a moment?” The old man wheeled closer to Sean with his shivering hands and replied, “Young man, you did not go to have fun on such a good day, instead you chose to come to this nursing home, it was really amazing. Actually, what motivated you to come?” Sean answered, “My twin brother passed away in a flight accident during a mission trip, this made me think about the purpose of life and evaluate my lifestyle, anyway, it’s hard to express in a nutshell. How about you? Could you share about your life experiences?” “Well, it would be shameful to mention about it!” the old man shook his head and said, “I was raised up in a Christian family, you could say that I was being well-protected and pampered all the way until I was a grown up. I sailed through my life with no sweat. When I was your age, I almost got everything, fame and fortune. However, I did not fully utilise what God has granted me, talents and wealth! Since I was spoiled by my family, I was very self-centred and did not care about other people, in addition, I did not use what I had to help out the needy and the less fortunate ones, on the other hand, I spent every penny on myself! Besides, I did not dig into God’s Word and serve Him fervently while I was still strong and in my golden era. Now I have spent all my fortune, I could not see and hear properly, my body parts were not functioning well, how could I serve Him? The only thing I could do is mourning for the rest of my life in this nursing home! Young man, don’t act like me! Grasp your golden opportunities to please the Lord, fully utilise what God has granted you and serve Him in full force, shine for Jesus! Or else, one day when you realise and would like to repent, it will be too late!” 

Sean looked at the old man’s crooked shadow, his mind flashed with the epitaphs from the graveyard, in his heart he was planning how to live the rest of his life……… (To be continued)

Your Initial Response

What has God granted you? How are you going to utilise what God has granted you? Are you going to use it for yourself and your family, or for the Kingdom of God?

Matthew 25:14–30

14“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 

15To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 

16The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 

17So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 

18But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 

19“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 

20The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ 

21“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!’ 

22“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ 

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!’ 

24“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. 

25So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 

26“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? 

27Well 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. 

28“ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 

29For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 

30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’(Matthew 25:14–30 NIV) 

1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.

2 Circle all the ways of money management of the three servants and number them in ascending order.

3 Highlight the praise and rebuke of the master toward the servant.

4 What does the servant who has one talent know about his master? Underline the knowledge about his master and number them in ascending order.

5 Use an arrow to connect the master’s dealing with the servant who has one talent and five talents together.

2) “Expound” (E)

iEXP Bible Study Method

Jesus Christ used a parable of three servants to speak about the truth of the heavenly kingdom; at the end of the parable, the Lord focuses on punishment. As you mediate this parable carefully, let us hope that you will respond appropriately.

1 Is the parable related to the second coming of the Lord?

2 What is the focus of the parable?

3 What are the servants represented in the parable?

4 How much is a talent (25:15)?

5 For those who did not gain any money would be considered as wicked and lazy, and would be cast out into the outer darkness; is this fair enough (25: 26, 30)?

In the Greek Bible, the three servants received five talents, two talents and one talent respectively. A talent weighs between 58 and 80 pounds. Based on a talent is of 75 lbs in weight, a scholar stated that the value of a talent is US $350,000. In one period, a silver talent is equivalent to six thousand drachmas, or six thousand days’ wages for an average Palestinian worker. In other words, the amount of money that each person got was huge (25:15).

1 The Emphasis of the Parable

“Good and faithful” (25: 21, 23) appears in this parable twice; therefore, some scholar considered “faithfulness” as the theme of this parable. Also, another scholar based on the structure of the sentence, showed that the parable was closely connected to the previous material, and indicated that the master was clearly Christ (cf. 25:31).

2 The Content of the Parable

The Man that Went On a Journey (25: 14 – 15)

This master entrusted his possession to his three slaves, according to their ability, he gave them five talents, two talents, and one talent respectively.

The First slave (25:16)

Immediately the slave who received five talents went to trade and gained five more talents, demonstrating the manner of a faithful servant.

The Second Slave (25:17)

Similarly, the second servant received the two talents, gained two more talents for his master.

The Third Slave (25:18)

However, the third servant buried the money in the ground.

The Return of the Master

The Master’s Commend

The master returned and settled accounts with these three servants. Those who received the five and the two talents made good use of their gifts and faithfully gained money for their master, so they got the commend from their master in return. What was worthy for our attention was that, the master’s commend to them was the same, but their earnings were different in amount (25:21, 23).

The Master’s Reprimand (25:24)

The one who received one talent did not only defend for his own deed, but also accused his master in return. First of all, he pointed out that his master was a “hard man.” Secondly, he accused his master to be unreasonable in that he reaped where he did not sow, and gathered where he scattered no seed. These were all the excuses made up by the third servant. Most probably, this servant simply did not believe his master would come back at all, and he did not want to deposit the talent in a bank where it would be recorded that the talent belonged to the master. He wanted to keep this great amount to himself. Hence, the master reprimanded this servant severely, saying that he was wicked and lazy, not only did he give the one talent to that who had already got 10 talents, but also cast him out to the outer darkness to weep and gnash his teeth, that is, eternal death.

The Teaching of the Parable

While waiting for the return of the Messiah, people should continue to serve Him faithfully. However, during the Tribulation, some Jews do have such awareness. Consequently, they will receive eternal punishment when the Messiah comes.

3) “Exercise” (X)

iEXP Bible Study Method

1 The master called the servant who did not manage his money well a wicked and lazy servant; if we do not use the talents, gifts, time, money and strength that God has given us, we will be seen as a similar servant by the Lord.

2 Christians are God’s stewards; therefore, we must do our best to fulfill our duty.

3 Memorise Matthew 25:29-30.

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. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:29-30)

4 Resolve to be a good and faithful steward.

5 God will faithfully reward those Christians who faithfully utilise their talents and gifts. This is not only an encouragement to the believers, but it is also God’s promise to His children.

6 Although the talents and gifts of Christians are different, God’s commend to the stewards serving faithfully is the same (25:21, 23). Therefore, Christians should never compare their talents and gifts with others, and faithfully serve God and fellow people is the essence.

7 Christians should affirm their identity of stewardship and should continue to remind one another about it. Everyone will give our account to the Lord, and faithful service is the purpose of our lives.

4) “Proclaim” (P)

By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.

iEXP Bible Study Method

After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.

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