Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — The Giver of Good Things

Sermon Text: Matthew 25:14-30
November 16, 2014

 

Audio:

 

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  AMEN!  Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the 25th chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

What do you have that you have not Received?

Steadfast Sermons GraphicAs the great Day of the Lord approaches we who bear the burden of Adam’s sin are prone to suffer Adam’s curse.  Adam’s sin produces in us all sorts of ungodliness, the most vexing of which is fear, fear of God and fear of one another.  Such a frightening condition manifests itself in many and various ways but one particular aspect of fear is that it is always one of retreat.  In fear, humanity retreats to the bushes.  In fear humanity retreats from one’s neighbor.  In fear, humanity retreats from faith and from love. In retreat is only loss.  Full of sin and afraid of God and one’s neighbor Adam’s children lose.  We know it. We feel it.  We see it. We are afraid and we retreat into our own little worlds and then we lose and we don’t want to lose, we don’t want to be lonely. We don’t want to suffer want.  We don’t want to feel anxious. We don’t want to be without but we just can’t get past what’s going on deep within. Such are the days of our lives surrounded by thorns and thistles outside of Eden and on this side of eternity.

It’s for this reason Jesus tells us another parable, namely that we see our place in His kingdom.  For the kingdom of heaven is all about a giver of good things.  To some the Father gives good gifts 5 fold, to others 2 fold and even the least among us receive their portion.  All is good because these gifts are given in grace. All is good because the giver loves those to whom He gives.  You are object of His love.  You are the recipient of His gifts.  Each of you has received what you have.  “What do you have that you have not received?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).  What have you done with that which you received?  For, the Lord gives His gifts with a purpose; to work His love in your heart so that your heart learns to love as He has loved you, that you no longer are afraid of Him or your neighbor.  This love, once planted in you through the Divine Word, is given to be fruitful outside of you expressing itself in love and good works.

Thus the one who received 5 talents in the parable put those talents to work and garnered 5 more. The one who receive 2 talents put those talents to work and garnered 2 more.  Each received 100% back.  And both yielded the talents to their Lord upon His return, all of the talents, keeping none for themselves.

Buried in the earth

But then there is the one, the one who was afraid.  He was afraid of His master and so also afraid of his neighbor.  Filled with fear he dug a pit and buried his talent in the earth.  He was afraid to lose it, afraid to use, afraid to come out from behind the bushes and share his talent with those around him.  He was afraid because he was unbelieving.  His unbelief fueled his fear.  His fear resulted in selfishness, self-preservation, self worship.  He did not respect His master enough to obey Him.  He did not trust His Lord would be gracious to him.  And so he buried his talent, kept it from his neighbors, even denied his neighbors the gifts of grace their plight required, with holding the love needed to sustain his neighbor’s dignity.  Having done so, the one who was afraid is called to account.  He must return his talent having tarnished it with the earth’s depravity.

Fear and laziness are constant temptations for God’s redeemed.  Who among us has not suffered the consequences of our unbelief?  Who among us has not withheld love from our neighbor? Who among us has not buried the gifts of grace our Lord has given us in order to preserve ourselves, sustain our lifestyle, protect our passions?  Who among us hasn’t declined to take up the cross and follow Jesus every now and then?  Who among us has not tried to justify our disobedience to Christ and His Word while feigning faithfulness to Christ and His Word.  “I may not go to Church but I do believe in Jesus.”  “I may be living with my boyfriend but I believe in Jesus”  “I may be drinking a little too much but I believe in Jesus.”   And don’t try to say, “not me.  I’m not like that.”  Just insert anyone of your sins and add “but I believe in Jesus” and there you go.  You’ve buried the gifts of God in the earth, in this world and its fleeting pleasures, in yourself.

This is disobedience.  This is sin.  This is Old Adam using faith in Jesus to justify Old Adam’s behavior.  Beloved, Jesus never justifies Old Adam’s behavior.  And He never justifies your sins. Jesus justifies sinners.  There’s a difference.  This difference proves God to be both Just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ.  Jesus doesn’t justify sins, He justifies sinners, not the deeds but the doers.  His justification of the sinner does not allow for the justification of the sins.  Therefore confess your sins.  Repent of your sins.  And amend your sinful life.  On the day of your Master’s return you will be called to give an account.  And what will you say? “I did it my way.”  “You only live once.”  “At least I didn’t hurt anybody.” or “I was afraid.”

In the Shadow of the Empty Tomb

Jesus takes your sin very seriously.  Jesus takes you very seriously.  That’s what love does. That’s what love is.  The gifts you’ve received are given you in Holy love.  These gifts have come at a cost.  These gifts are given you by grace and received by faith, but these gifts were purchased with a price.  “For God so loved that World that He gave His only-begotten Son that who so ever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  It is the nature of love to give.  Love gave Jesus to the cross.  There on the cursed tree Jesus justifies sinners while justice is meted out in His flesh.

Do you see the cost of your eternity?  Do you see the price of your disobedience?  He suffers for sins committed by you.  He hangs where you should be hanging.  Look upon the crucifix!  Here is God’s justice.   Look beloved!  Here is God’s mercy.  Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, here are your sins, here is the cost of your justification.

Here, your life is redeemed.
Here, your debts are cancelled
Here holy blood is shed to spare yours.
Here suffering is endured for your sake. Because that’s what love does.  Love suffers.  That’s what love is – love is steadfast.
Here the cry of absolution goes out and echoes through time and space until it reaches your ears in the hopes of being planted in your heart.
Here flows the blood and the water.  And these give testimony that God is greater than your sin and death and hell. For in the death of Jesus the Lord gives life to humanity.  In His crucifixion He gives cleansing to your souls.  Hanging in your place He hangs between you and the Father as one who has broken the curse by becoming a curse, as one who has regenerated humanity by dying for humanity, as one who gives good gifts to men through the death and resurrection of this one man, this new man, this son of Adam and son of God. Jesus invests His whole person in the saving of His neighbor.

Buried in One’s Neighbor

This salvation has come to you by grace.  It’s a gift.  You didn’t earn it.  It was splashed upon you with water and the Spirit. It’s pledged within you through body and blood under bread and wine.  It’s the spoken to you from the shadow of the cross to the depths of your heart through the voice of a man into the ears that hear.  The giver of good gifts buries His salvation deep within the believer through His Word and His sacraments.  These plant divine favor and mercy on the inside, transforming the Old into the New, crucifying Adam’s descendants and raising sons of God.

This is gift is given with a purpose.  Jesus redeems you from sin, death, and devil, not so that you can run off and do whatever pleases your sweet little hearts.  Jesus doesn’t redeem you so that you can serve you, so that you can remain afraid of Him and your neighbor.  He doesn’t make peace with you only to leave to fend for yourself in this broken world.  No, beloved, Jesus has redeemed you for His glory and His service.  Thus He calls His disciples, to take up their cross and follow Him.  There is no salvation apart from His cross.  And there is no discipleship without following Him.  When Jesus calls you to follow He is also calling you to obey.  He’s calling you to go where He goes, do what He does, love what He loves, and suffer what He suffers not to earn your salvation, but to work out your salvation in love and good works.

And so, beloved, as Christians, as His dearly loved people gifted with heavenly gifts and justified through the death and resurrection of Jesus, you are now to be given to your neighbor.  God gives His Son to you in Word and Sacrament.  And so also He gives you to your neighbor in love and good works.  This love He gives takes away all fear and anxiety.

Rather than retreating from God we fearfully draw near in confidence of mercy.

Rather than falling back from our neighbor we are sent out with a spirit of power and of love.

Rather than wasting away in the leisure of our laziness we are stirred up to keep watch for our brothers and sisters.

Rather than drinking the spirits of this age we are sober minded and not given to falsehood.

Rather than arraying our bodies with the foreign attire of sin’s intentional indulgences, we are clothed with the breastplate of faith and love wearing as a helmet the hope of our salvation.

Rather than grieving we rejoice.  For ours is a Salvation gifted to us through the Son of God. Ours is a salvation obtained by blood and sealed in death, buried for three days, but raised from the Tomb.  Our salvation is not a method or a means, it’s not silver or gold, it’s not a philosophy or even a way of life, our salvation is a person, a man, a man born of a virgin, crucified, died and buried who rose from the dead on the third day and ascended to the Father’s right hand.  He is ours.  With Him as our God we are then given to our neighbor so that His gifts bear fruit in His kingdom.

In Christ’s Word You have everything you Need

Beloved in the Lord, Old Adam is always afraid, afraid of God and afraid of his neighbor.  Such fear comes between us.  Hearts grow cold and love for God and neighbor wanes.  The soul then retreats further from both God and neighbor.  Jesus teaches us in our parable this morning that every good and perfect comes down to us from our Father above.  These gifts are given in love and given to love.  Without the gifts of God we would not know God or even considering knowing our neighbor. But with these gifts, with God’s Word we find that His heart is a heart of mercy and love and not wrath.  For God did not appoint us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  This salvation is for you.  This new life is for you.  These talents are for you.  Take them and use them in His service.  God has given you good gifts and these good gifts are given with a purpose, that having been loved by God you also love one another.  Then, when that day arrives, upon the Master’s return, you give to him all that he’s given you.  For what do you have that you have not received?  And the one justifies sinners will say, “well done my good and faithful servant.”  AMEN!

 

The peace of God which surpasses all human understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus.  AMEN!


Comments

Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — The Giver of Good Things — 1 Comment

  1. Very good Law and Gospel sermon, I must say. So in essence, there is unhealthy and ungodly fear of God, as Adam was confronted by Him after the Fall, trying to hide from Him. At the same time there is the salutory and godly fear of God, as one would respect the office of an armed policeman or a godly father. I do believe that centuries of time have obscured different definitions of the word “fear” in our language.

    There was a time when I have tended to take the treasure of the free gift of salvation in Christ for granted, and grudgingly sang in the choir, just so I could say I was doing something for God. But thanks to the Holy Spirit’s work alone, I now not only sing gladly and find myself wanting to do more good things, not because I have to. But because I want to. Praise God for bringing about that change, which came without any effort or desire on my part.

    This sermon meshes well with Jesus’ sayings to “abide in Me, that ye may bear much fruit”. We are saved not by good works, but for good works. Thank you, Pastor, for sharing what the Spirit has moved you to speak.

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