“When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.”
“‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This is the 17th session on ‘God Measures Our Faith‘.
At the time of Jesus, the Jews one day surrounded Jesus and demanded Him to clearly say if He was the Christ.
So, as written in John 10:25, Jesus answered them saying, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.”
Jesus proved that He is the Son of God and the Christ through good deeds and by manifesting the miracles that only God can perform.
In the same way, those children of God who are saved will show the deeds that are worthy of being children of God.
Those deeds will show more clearly in the growing up of their faith.
One of those deeds is being faithful in one’s duty.
Another deed is to give thanks all the time, not forgetting the grace one has received.
Are you also showing such deeds in your lives?
In latter part of Galatians 6:17 Paul said, “I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” As he said, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will also have the brand-marks of Jesus on you, too.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and viewing audiences,
In the Bible Jesus mentions the sins that cannot be forgiven in a couple of places.
One of them is the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.
This parable teaches us that being faithful is related to our salvation.
Let us look into it now.
Matthew 25:14-17 says, “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.  “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.  “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.  “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.”
Here, ‘a man’ refers to the ‘Lord Jesus’.
‘To go on a journey’ means the Lord will go to Heaven after His resurrection.
The ‘slaves’ symbolizes the saved children of God, and the ‘possessions’ all the people on this earth.
John 1:3 says, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” As said, the Lord is the Creator and master of all things.
The most precious creation for Him is the people, the mankind.
The Lord first entrusted to us who are saved, the countless souls of this earth so they can also be saved.
The Lord said in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The ‘talents’ that the man gave to his slaves refers to our ‘duties’.
Matthew 25:16-17 says that the one who had received the five talents and the two talents went and traded with them, and gained double.
To increase the possession of the man is to fulfill our duties and save many souls.
All the duties given by the Lord are either directly or indirectly related to saving souls.
Not only directly preaching, teaching, and taking care of the souls, but also voluntary works or praising and things related with the church are, after all, done to save the souls.
Dear brothers and sisters, now, how many talents have you received from the Lord?
Namely, how many duties do you have?
Also, how well are you performing your duties?
Of course, the Lord does not force you to fulfill many duties.
The Lord gives talents according to your abilities.
He gives you duties according to the kinds of talents you have.
And is there anybody who might think like, “I am so short of given talents, and I didn’t have a chance to learn any skills or gain knowledge, so if the Lord considers these things, how can I receive any duties from Him?”
Here, the talents are not about physical talents like knowledge or skills.
They refer to spiritual talents, namely faith, hope, and love.
With physical talents, we cannot conduct the business of the spirit which is to save the souls.
We can do it with spiritual talents, namely, faith, hope, and love.
The more of these things we have, the better we can perform our duties.
Namely, we can fulfill our duties well and save more souls.
Let us think about why.
First, the greater the faith you have, you will more confidently and passionately spread the gospel to the souls.
It’s because you believe so certainly that God is alive and Heaven and Hell surely exist.
The greater the faith is, the greater the hope is, too.
You believe that you will receive more rewards as you fulfill your duties diligently and lead many souls to the Lord, and thus, you have great hope.
Having this hope, you want to fulfill more duties and furthermore, you want to bear fruits by fulfilling your duties well.
It’s because the Lord promised us in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”
In today’s reading passage, the man came back after a long time and settled the account with the slaves.
The one who had received five talents and two talents doubled what they had received.
But the one who had received one talent had only held on to that one talent.
The man praised the two slaves who doubled what they had received saying, “Well done, good and faithful slave.”
Also, in Matthew 25:23, it says, “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
This means that if we fulfill our duties well and save many souls, we will go into good dwelling places in Heaven, and we will also be invited to the banquets given by God.
Of course, all saved children of God will be invited to attend the beautiful banquet before they officially go into the kingdom of heaven.
They will be invited to the 7-Year wedding banquet that will be held after the Lord’s coming in the air.
How great the joy of that day will be!
But among the saved children of God, those who fulfilled their duties very well will be invited to the banquet of God the Father held in New Jerusalem, which is the best heavenly dwelling place.
Those who have hope for this day can perform their duties with joy.
They do not waste their time and money, or their effort to take the worldly things that will perish and diminish.
They invest all their possessions and abilities for things that are true, namely eternal kingdom of heaven, and heavenly glory and rewards.
They can be faithful even to the point of death.
On top of this, if they have ‘love’ in their heart, they can show the kind of faithfulness that is most pleasing to the Father God.
Those who have cultivated spiritual love will keep all the words of God completely.
Especially, they will keep the two foremost of all commandments.
These two are mentioned in Mark 12:30-31.
The first is, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” And the second is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Those who keep these two commandments sacrifice themselves to serve others in all things.
They always work hard for the kingdom of God and the souls.
On the contrary, those who do not have such faith, hope, or love do not have enthusiasm for their duties.
That was the case with the slave who had received one talent.
When the master came back from the journey, the slave who had received one talent spoke as follows.
In Matthew 25:24-25 he says, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.  ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'”
Hiding it in the ground means he just hid his duty in his heart and did not fulfill it.
But what does James 2:26 say?
It says, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
Namely, if you say you believe in God but do not have the deeds of actually loving God, your faith cannot be considered true.
The master said to this slave, “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This means he will not go into heavenly kingdom but to the outer darkness, which is Hell.
Namely, if you do not fulfill your duties properly, you cannot be saved.
Brothers and sisters, of course, this passage does not apply to novices in faith.
It applies to those who should have faith, and who are leaders and workers in the church.
Especially, pastors who have the duty that is directly related with saving and taking care of the souls should take heed in this passage.
Proverbs 27:23 says, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds;”
As this verse says, ministers should always know well the condition of the souls entrusted to them.
They always have to pay attention to the souls.
But if they seek their own comfort in their lives thinking about what to eat, what to drink, and what to wear, how can we say they are really servants of the Lord?
Also, ministers must supply the flock with the spiritual needs including the spiritual bread and take care of them.
But sometimes, even though the souls are spiritually thirsty and hungry, they just leave them be paying attention to other things.
If the parents do not feed their children on time, or if you do not feed the animals you raise at home, even the worldly people will bring accusations against you.
And if the ministers do not take care of the souls, how can they escape the rebuke of the Lord?
The Lord says these kinds of slaves are hired hands.
John 10:12 says, “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.”
Even among the laymen believers, there are people who work with all their lives loving God and the souls, expending all their time, money, and body, and heart.
And if you receive your pay from God and do not fulfill your duties properly, you are not a servant of the Lord but a hired hand.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah likened the leaders of Israel, who were blinded by their own greed and not performing the duty of the shepherd, to greedy dogs.
Isaiah 56:10-12 says, “His watchmen are blind, all of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, who love to slumber;  and the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.  “Come,” they say, “let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; and tomorrow will be like today, only more so.”
How can such shepherds get into glorious places in the kingdom of God, even if they have the titles of ministers on this earth?
But is there anybody who thinks like, “I tried hard but I have no fruit. My environment and circumstances were not good, and I was born with a heart that is not good”?
Or, is there someone who says, “I received only this little duty, which is not important. It’s not fair”?
Then, they are judging the master and giving an excuse saying, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'”
The Lord gives duties to each one according to his talents.
Namely, He does not give a duty that one cannot actually perform.
Of course, there are a few people who receive some duties that are beyond the level of their own talents.
But in any case, once you have received your duty, you have to fulfill it with all your life.
This is the will of the Lord.
Also, whether it is wisdom or strength, if you ask anything for the kingdom of God without ulterior motives, He will give everything without reprimanding you.
If you receive the strength of the Lord, even if you have only 80 units of ability, you can still perform to a level of 100 or 120 units.
But if you do not even ask the Lord for more strength or if you neglect your duties just because you are lazy or because you like worldly things, you cannot escape the rebuke of the Lord saying you are a lazy slave.
This proves that you do not have any mind of thankfulness for the grace of salvation, that you do not believe in the power of God, and that you do not have hope for Heaven.
Namely, I hope you will understand that your attitude in fulfilling your duties is one of the measures to assess your spiritual faith.
Also, I hope you will not think this message does not apply to you just because you are not ministers.
If you have been avoiding duties because you feel burdensome, I hope you will demolish your frameworks of thoughts and your limitations.
Those workers who have faith would want to take up more duties and become more faithful.
God loves those faithful workers who ardently long for duties and work hard.
In today’s reading passage, to whom did the master give the talent that he has taken from the slave who had one talent?
He didn’t give it to the one who had two talents and made two more, but to the one who had five and made five more.
Of course, this does not mean that you have to take up duties excessively going beyond the measure of your faith.
You sometimes need the wisdom to be discreet in taking up duties.
It is also necessary for the church to give the chance to as many workers as possible so that more workers will be raised.
The important thing is the attitude of your heart.
It is important to fulfill your duties with the desire to pay back the grace you received, with willingness to take the burdens together with your love for the Lord, and with the hope for the rewards that the Lord will store up in Heaven for you.
Dear brothers and sisters, and viewing audiences,
Since I had accepted the Lord, I have experienced many things as I was fulfilling duties which were overwhelming.
The duty to be a servant of the Lord was a duty that was really overwhelming for me.
When I received the calling to become a pastor, I was worried that I was already too old and too introverted to become a pastor.
But when I obeyed with an ‘Amen’, God Himself led all my ways and gave me overflowing grace and strength.
Sometimes, I knew that I was going to collapse if I didn’t take a rest right at that moment.
But even at those moments I could not rest.
I could not be at comfort or physically rest thinking, “What if the flock becomes weak? What if the enemy devil snatches away the sheep?”
I also wanted to ease the burdens of the workers who had weak faith, and I could not just watch the things that were going on in the church.
Furthermore, in order to accomplish the will and providence of God for this church, I could not be at ease at all.
But it doesn’t mean I was fulfilling my duties being coerced to do it feeling it is hard.
I only felt if I worked a little harder, the church members would be happier and their souls would prosper more.
I was very happy about that.
I was delighted to accomplish the kingdom of God beautifully and give glory to Him.
Above all, with the love of the Father God that was being poured out on me continually, and with the love of the church members, I was comforted from time to time and I could fulfill my duties.
I hope you will also overflowingly experience this kind of love and power of God by being faithful.
Also, I pray in the name of the Lord that none of you will face a tragic end by neglecting your duties, like the lazy slave who had received one talent.