At the end of last year (2010), that sounds a little weird knowing that we are going into 2012. I was given the opportunity to speak on Intentions, a topic at the forefront of many thoughts and conversations this time of year. Funny that we spend so much time every year and many of us don’t fulfill those very intentions that we set. Why is that? Why do we loose focus? Why is it that we become so intentional this time of year then by February or sooner we are not. Well here is my attempt to explain this phenomenon. This discussion is based on my interpretation of Matthew 25:14-30 (The Parable of the Talents).
I love this time of year, not just that it is Christmas but the time period between Christmas and New Years. Mainly because I am a planner and I get to spend time looking back at what transpired over the past year and then applying those lessons forward, in hopes that I learned a few things on the way. In fact I am pretty sure that most of use spend just a little bit of time doing the same thing. We reflect on the past year. We take a look at some of our successes or maybe even some failures. We ask ourselves the “what if” question, what if I did it this way instead of that. All with the same goal in mind – “THE NEW ME! I AM GOING TO GET IT RIGHT THIS TIME.”
We go and buy the exercise video, and by June we are wondering where it is only to discover it it is still on top of the BluRay/DVD player – still in the shrink wrap. Or maybe it was a digital download and you realize that the play count is at 3. You think to yourself why, what, huh – I know I did that workout more times than that. Really? Are you sure? Let’s see. 1 play to check if it worked. 2 plays of the actual workout. Then life took over.
Let’s take a poll –
- How many of you have already started working on your resolutions?
- Who sets resolutions every year?
- How many of you plan on making a list of resolutions before the the week is out?
- How many of you know that you are going to make a list, start it and then forget about it by March?
- How many people have already given up on their resolutions (goals)?
Let’s face it! We all know that a resolution is a goal and often times an unfulfilled one at that. We usually set a resolution with an expected result. We have an idea or a thought, a desire to accomplish something or do something different this year. So we write it down. We talk about it with friends or the stranger at the crosswalk. O.K. maybe I am the only one who tells the stranger at the crosswalk but the point is that our resolutions have an intentionality about them. According to a very reliable source ‘Intention’ can be defined as “An agent’s intention in performing an action is his or her specific purpose in doing so, the end or goal that is aimed at, or intended to accomplish. Whether an action is successful or unsuccessful depends at least on whether the intended result was brought about.” – Wikipedia
Webster says Intention – “A determination to act a certain way”
In Matthew 25:14-30 (The Parable of the Talents)., Jesus tells a story. The setting of the Parable is during the final week of Jesus’ life. During this time period of his teaching he is focusing more on end times and what is to come and our responses to that. This story is about a Master (the reference can be made to Jesus) and his servants (his disciples, us). The Master is entrusting each Servant with a large sum of money while he is away. We don’t know where the Master is going, we don’t even know how long he is going to be gone, sound familiar. Really the only details that we do know is that each servant is given a specific dollar amount according to their own ability. This is very key which we will digest later.
Something else we should note is the usage of the term Talent. A Talent was originally a weight of measure. The value can be summed to – 1 Talent is equal to 6,000 denarii. A denarii is equal to about 1 days wage for the common laborer. I guess you could say that a Talent is analogous with $1,000,000 dollars. A WHOLE LOT!!!
Another thing to note is the English use of ‘talent’ for a natural (or supernatural) aptitude derives from this parable, and represents a common application of it to the need to ‘live up to our full potential’. But of course the Greek talent is simply a sum of money, part of the story-content of the parable, and our interpretation should not be influenced by the subsequent use of the word in English. In the context of Jesus’ ministry the sums of money entrusted to the slaves are more likely to represent not natural endowments given to men in general, but the specific privileges and opportunities of the Kingdom of Heaven. The opportunities open to a disciple may differ in character and magnitude, but they are all to be faithfully exploited before the master returns. ‘Readiness’, therefore, consists in having already faithfully discharged our responsibilities as disciples, whether they have been small or great. It is the master who allocates the scale of responsibility; the slave’s duty is merely to carry out faithfully the role entrusted to him.
Let’s take a moment to read the story – Matthew 25:14-30
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
(Matthew 25:14-30 ESV)
First and foremost this is not talking about – ‘if you have money you are going to get more’!
Let’s break it down a bit.
I. Ability – 25:14-15
Point 1 – Our Intentions should match our abilities.
God knows our abilities better than we do. He knew that Dave, Mark and Steve (the three servants). The Biblical account does not give them names but to personalize the story I have provided three names.
- Dave received 5 talents; He returned 10 talents; a profit of 5
- Mark received 2 talents; He returned 4 talents; a profit of 2
- Steve received 1 talents; He returned 1 talent; a profit of 0
This story as with many parables are vague on the skills of each Servant (Dave, Mark and Steve). The only information that we are given is that they each have a skill (Talent) and that they each apply those skills under the supervision of the Master. Why do you think he (the master) gave the Dave five talents instead of the Steve. The Master knew that Dave had the ability to transform the most amount to the most reward. Why – well that is not talked about, we just have to take it in faith that the master knows the abilities of His servants. Possibly some time before Dave had done good work. Maybe the last time the Master handed out tasks Dave was the one who received two talents. The point is that the Master knew Dave, Mark and Steve’s abilities and knew who He was able to trust the most in this case, which just happened to be Dave.
I think we can all agree that great things do not just happen, Yes – God can make great things happen BUT great things take great abilities.
For instance do you think it is possible fr an Olympic Marathoner can go out without any sort of natural ability or training and compete against the faster people on earth at that distance without proper preparation and training? The Marathon is an amazing event – it is 26.2 miles of running at a very fast speed. Just to get a little understanding of how fast these people are running. For the past ten years the Men have completed the event on average in 2:03:59 – 2:05:10 and the women have have on averaged finished in 2:15:25 – 2:20:25. This is running 26 consecutive miles in less than 4 minutes and 45 second per mile for the men and 5 minutes and 14 seconds per mile for the women. That is just about 12 – 13 miles per hour. That would be like like running from the church parking lot to Walmart and back without stopping to shop in just over 2 hours. The people who compete at this level are not a typical runner like me who, although, loves the sport and has the ability to run but does not have the ability to run at that speed for that distance. No – these people have been given a natural ability of physical endurance, speed and stamina. There bodies are made to run for long distances at high speeds. The part that is even more amazing is that the people who compete at the ELITE level of athletics such as the Olympics is that they have REALIZED THAT THEY HAVE A UNIQUE ABILITY and they have set there heart, mind and soul to the task at being the best they can at that sport. They are very intentional in their training both on and off the field.
This is the most prominent thing that stands out to me in this story – The Master knew the ability of his servants. He knew what they were capable, He knew that all the servants had to do is to accept the fact that they had the ability to do great things.
15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
Is it really not that far of a stretch to make the correlation of the Talent (which here is a weight of measure or monetary value) to that of a persons ability? Think about it; do we use our God given ability? Do we even know our God given gifts? How many times have you done something hoping it would be great only to learn that, well maybe, you really should not of done that. Take some time to digest that thought.
Look at the two servants in this story who made a profit. You know that they did not question the fact that they had the ability. They had confidence in their ability as well as in their masters decision and we know this by two facts. The first is that they did not question the Master, they did not read anything into their assignment. So many times we question ourselves and the situations that we are in. Second they just did what they were asked (Masters desire) based on what they knew (their ability). In the words of Nike – “Just Do It!”.
It is my belief that one of our greatest failures as Christians as people is that we try to do what we are not meant to do – We try to use what we think is our ability and match it with an Intention. But we need to remember each person is called (individually) to serve a particular purpose in the Church, in the body of Christ, in life. Each of us is unique, Each of us are created from the Image of God, In the Likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-31). Each of us has a gift (Talent) given from God, just as Paul pointed out in Romans –
Romans 12:4-6 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; (ESV)
Or as Peter writes in:
1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The funny thing about ability though is that it is worthless without intentionality. I did some searching through the bible on the word Intention and came up with two words used to describe this English word –
Hebrew (ysr)- A thing someone fashions or forms, the content of thinking and reasoning, what someone wishes or wants.
– Genesis 6:5 – The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (ESV)
– Jeremiah 30:24 – The fierce anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intentions of his mind. In the latter days you will understand this. (ESV)
Greek (ennoia) – thought, knowledge – purpose as a result of thinking
– Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (ESV)
Intentionality is really a barometer of where our heart, mind and soul are.
Let’s take a second maybe a minute or two and look at two types of intentions meeting abilities – the intentions of the individual and then the intentions of the group, Corporate Intentions.
Individual Intentions –
I think we can all agree that Bad Heart = Bad Intentions; Good Heart = Good Intentions
ILLUSTRATION: A funny thing happened Thursday at work. I can say that now but the past month or so have not been so fun. About 3 months ago I accepted a new position in a new company. This is a good thing as I am able to be home more and not travelling every week. This new job is also a new field for me, now I have worked in software development for close to 18 years and, although, this position is a position in software but it was not the same industry as it is in Banking. Well the event that happened on Thursday was that I was removed as the Project Manager to a multi-million dollar contract and replaced by another Project Manager. Now this may sound bad but God is funny it really is a good thing. See he was teaching me about His intentions verses my Intentions – I went in with the intention of doing a great job with what I knew but as mentioned earlier this is a different industry and, therefore, they do things a little differently, much differently as I have come to find out. Needless to say we are starting a new training program for new project managers who are not familiar with the way the Banking Industry works.
The intentions of the individual is formed by the focus of the heart and mind of the individual.
There is another type of Intention and it has to do with groups or bodies of people something that I will call Corporate Intentionality.
Corporate Intentions – The intentions of the body is formed by the members of that body and their focus.
ILLUSTRATION: Church @ Work 2010 – For the past couple of years we as a group, as a church have partook in an event called Church@Work. It is where we take the CHURCH to the community. We use our abilities, our hearts, our minds and our souls to show the people in the community what it is all about. I asked Candy to provide some stats on this past Church@Work. Remember these were projects with leaders and people working together to better the Kingdom and the Community in the name of Christ.
Hope Center (many people helped)
single mom + 3 kids – (Jerika Spencer)
The single mom emailed me before we came and said when she pulled into her driveway and saw the lumber and windows that had been delivered, she just cried. She was so relieved that she was getting some help.
Deck (1 man)
Car Wash (many cars washed)
Nursing Home (15 + people)
Wood Cutting (delivered to I don’t know how many homes)
I had another lady call to thank us for the wood that was delivered to her home. It was her only source of heat and she really needed the wood.
Hwy 20 flower beds
Hwy 228 Bricks
Roving Landscaping Crew
There was an elderly woman who called the church to say that she had been gone and when she returned home her lawn was mowed and edged. She just couldn’t believe it, she had been so worried because the person who usually took care of it for her had not been able to and she didn’t know how she would get it done. She was very happy when she came home and found it done. Someone told her that Community Chapel had done it for her. She was very appreciative.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. (ESV)
No matter what our Intentions are if that intention is not matched to our own or group abilities then the result is not the intended result and we can be equated to the servant who buried his single talent.
Which brings us to that very point
II. Action – Matthew 25:24-30
Point 2 – Intention without action is useless
24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Once we are entrusted with the talent we must put it to work. Remember that exercise DVD/Download you purchased last Christmas with the intention to get into those skinny jeans by summer. Well maybe not all of us want to get into skinny jeans, although, I hear they are all the rage now days. But anyway, I was looking for that DVD the other day and what do you know it was in the drawer with some other exercise equipment, still wrapped in plastic wrap. Not quite sure my intention stood up to my ability, see in this case I did have the ability but I really did not intend to use the DVD.
The point is that we can intend to do it and we can have the ability to do it but unless we DO IT, it won’t happen. Now that is probably the most profound thing you have heard in a long time. Let’s say it again – We can intend to do it and we can have the ability to do it but unless we DO IT, it won’t happen.
Just like the third servant – He had the ability remember the Master gave the Talents out to His servants based on their ability (verse 15) To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Do you think the servants intentions were in the right/correct frame of mind? Probably not just look at his answer answer in verses 24 an 25–
‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
The fault of the third servant was not that he buried the talent. It was that he did not believe that His Master (God) trusted him enough. It is probably true that the third servant was new to the trade and the Master was using this as a test. Obviously he had the talent to double the one Talent but it was the fact that he did not use his talent. He was selfish and prideful in the task. He did not grasp the true task as he was suppose to. As he was suppose to use his own ability to turn a profit. See God wants us to do something with ourselves. He wants use to use our abilities to further His kingdom.
Did you know:
When our Heart, Mind and Soul are focused on Gods INTENTIONS we are given clarity to use our Abilities for Greater things – John 14:12 teaches us this –“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
We will do greater works than Jesus – not that we are more capable than Jesus but there are just more of us. Jesus was one man in a remote area only able to reach a few hundred people at a time. We are an army of people capable of reaching the world. Also Jesus didn’t have the Internet or Blogs (not in original transcript).
ILLUSTRATION: General Stonewall Jackson’s famous valley campaign. Jackson’s army found itself on one side of a river when it needed to be on the other side. After telling his engineers to plan and build a bridge so the army could cross, he called his wagon master in to tell him that it was urgent the wagon train cross the river as soon as possible. The wagon master started gathering all the logs, rocks and fence rails he could find and built a bridge. Long before day light General Jackson was told by his wagon master all the wagons and artillery had crossed the river. General Jackson asked where are the engineers and what are they doing? The wagon master’s only reply was that they were in their tent drawing up plans for a bridge.
Don’t get stuck in the tent – trust that God trust you!
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Just believing is not enough! We have to do something about it we cannot have INTENTION WITHOUT ACTION. What was that I say earlier – WE CAN INTEND TO DO SOMETHING AND WE CAN HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO SOMETHING BUT UNLESS WE DO SOMETHING, IT WON’T HAPPEN.
Which leads us to the the third point that we need to understand about Intentions
III. Alignment – Matthew 25:19-23
Point 3 – When our Intentions are aligned with God’s Intentions then we will be rewarded
16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
In some way it is a lot like an Eagle, they are beautiful and Majestic. Have you ever seen one in flight man it is amazing just graceful up to the point that they are not paying attention and fly into the Jet engine. I don’t think weasels have that problem.
ILLUSTRATION: Jason Plester is a Christian athlete, not just any type of athlete he is an Ironman Triathlete. For those who do not know what an Ironman is it is probably one of the most grueling endurance races that one person can participate in. It is made up of three events – a 2.2 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run. All done sequentially one right after the other. Now this is a feat that not everyone has the ability to do. It not only tests your physical endurance but it also tests your mental ability and stamina. Jason does these types of events – yet he has …. PAUSE, well you watch for your self.
Jason says 3 key things in this video that stand out to me.
- The Strength that I was given to become the man I am today
- The gifts that we have, it is up to us to use it and act on it and better ourselves in that area!
- We all have our own passions instilled inside of us!
“Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
So there you have it –
When we make a decision for Christ we have trusted our lives to Him. We have given up control of our lives and let go to his authority. He then entrusts it back to us. Something that we must understand is that our lives are not our own after that decision but they are His. Our tasks are handed out daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. It is our job to TRUST the ABILITY that HE has given us and DO great things.
As you look to your list this year – if you are one of those people who makes the yearly resolution list. Look at it a little differently, look at it from God’s eyes first, then look at it from your own.
Matthew 25:23 says – His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’