When God gives us gifts, He does so with a purpose. He doesn’t just give us gifts for us to bury and give back to Him someday unused. In the Parable of the Talents, we learn about the risk in not doing anything with the gifts that God has given to us, in particular, the gift of the Church and the Orthodox way of life. God has given the Church to us for us to take the Church out into the world to grow the Church and return it to Him increased.
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Thank you for tuning into another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.
This morning, my brothers and sisters, we hear a very important parable of our Lord. The parable of the talents. And we have to understand talents. We hear the word talent in English and we think it's the talents that God gives us. I'm a carpenter. I'm a musician. That's not what talents are. Specifically, talents are money. They are ... It was a particular aspect of money in the ancient days and it was a lot of money. One talent was a lot of money. And in this particular parable, the master comes and he gives one servant five, one servant two, and one servant he gives to one talent. He says, "Now take care of these things. I'm going to leave and I'm going to come back."
The thing that we must remember when we listen to this parable, my brothers and sisters, is it's not just a story about money. It is a story of the Kingdom of God. God tells us very clearly, the Kingdom of Heaven is like… and He goes on and He tells the story. So we have to hear this understanding that some day God is going to come and ask us the same questions that He asked these three people in the story. He's given each and every one of us a variety of gifts, including money, but not only money. Maybe the most important thing He's given us, my brothers and sisters, is His church and His Gospel and the Holy Mysteries of the Church.
All of the various services of the church have been given to us as gifts from God for a purpose. And God is going to someday ask us what have we done with the gifts that he has given us? Some day we're going to die. We know that's the truth. We can't avoid it. And we have a choice to make. Which servant are we going to be like? The two who took the gifts that God had given them ... He took the money that God had given to them and they went and they used them properly and they were able to bring more money back to God.
It was the third servant that was called wicked and lazy, because he took the money that God had given him and he buried it. And he says to the master, "I knew you were strict and hard on people, but I was afraid, so I kind of hid the money. So here take your money and go home." And God says, "You wicked and lazy servant. Couldn't you have at least brought it to the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest back." Well, not these days, of course. These days there is no interest in the bank.
But the point of the story is he did absolutely nothing with what God had given him. And so even what he had was taken away and he was left with nothing. And God said, "Go. Get away from me, far away." That is our choice to make. Do we want to take the gifts that God has given us, and again, we're not talking about just money, although the story is about money. God has given us a variety of gifts. He has, of course, given us a variety of talents in the other sense of the word, right? We are either carpenters or we're musicians.
But the gift of the church, remember that Christ was speaking to the Jews in this story. And the Jews had the church and they wasted it and they lost it. They didn't use the church for God's glory and they didn't give the church even though they were caretakers of the church. And God took it from them and he gave it to us, the Greeks, the Orthodox. But now it's our turn to listen to the challenge of this Gospel because we too have received the church as caretakers until God returns.
When he comes back, are we going to tell him that we hid the church from other people? Are we going to say, "But God, the church is for us. It's not for the other people. That's our church." Or are we going to open up our doors and have this great gift of God, His church, His gospel, the sacraments of the church, the mysteries of the church, holy communion, baptism, confession, marriage, house blessings, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. All of these gifts that God has given us are not just for us to hide, but they are for us to take out into the world and do something with the gifts that God has given us.
If God has given us the church, our responsibility as explained in this Gospel, my brothers and sisters, is to be able to tell God when he returns, "You gave us one church. We went out and we grew it and we brought you two churches back." Or three or four. "You brought me three children, Lord. And our family has gone out and we have evangelized our friends and our neighbors, and here, look, we brought you three members more for the church." That's what this gospel is about. It's not about money. God doesn't need money. God wants us, our souls, our hearts, our love. But he also doesn't want us to waste the things that he has given us for his glory.
And so our challenge, my brothers and sisters, from hearing this Gospel is for us to take the gifts that God has given us in their entirety, whether it is money, whether it is talents, whether it is the church itself, and use it for God's glory and to increase the church. To grow this church so that we begin to panic, "What are we going to do with all the people?" And we will answer to God for how we use this gift. And I pray that God tells us, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been proper over a few. We're going to give you greater things." That is our blessed opportunity and our challenge from God, if we choose to accept it. Glory to God for all things.
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