Introduction: The order of the lessons is backwards, right? We
enjoyed the lesson about the weekly day of rest, then we learned
about that eternal vacation, Heaven. Last week we started to get
back to work with “discipleship,” and now (horrors) “stewardship!”
Shouldn’t we be ending on a rising note? Or, is stewardship a rising
note? Whenever some official shows up at my church to discuss
stewardship, it almost always means they want more money or more work
out of me. But, I think we will discover this week that the Bible has
a more positive approach to the idea. Let’s plunge into our Bible
study and learn what is great about stewardship!

  1. Winning at Life

    1. Read Matthew 25:14-15. On what basis did the master give
      more money to one servant than another? Was it just
      favoritism? (No. The servants varied in their natural
      abilities. He gave the servant with more natural ability
      more money.)

      1. Was that unfair? Shouldn’t everyone get the same
        amount of money?

        1. Or, was it unfair to the servant with more
          natural talent because he now had a greater

    2. Read Matthew 25:16-18. Is there any argument in favor of
      the approach of the “one talent” guy? What about the
      recent fall of the stock market? What about the worries
      over our banking institutions? Might not a hole in the
      ground be the safest way to conserve capital?

      1. Is there any reason to believe that the one talent
        fellow was not proceeding in good faith? (Yes. If the
        master wanted his money preserved by hiding it, he
        could have hidden it himself – and not taken the risk
        of letting the one talent guy know where it was.)

    3. Read Matthew 25:19-23. Why does the guy who only produced
      two more talents get the same praise as the guy who
      produced five more talents? Is that fair? (They both
      doubled what was given to them. This shows that, since the
      master allocated the money based on natural ability, the
      master does not impose a penalty for a lack of natural
      talent. The question is not what talents you have at
      birth, the question is what you do with your talents.)

    4. Read Matthew 25:24. This reveals the mind-set of the one
      talent fellow. Why does he call his master names (“hard

      1. Isn’t it true that one person should not make a
        profit from the hard work of another person? Isn’t
        this called “exploitation?”

    5. Read Matthew 25:25. Wait, has the one talent man changed
      his story? (Yes! He is now claiming he was fearful. First
      he claims his master is a capitalist, and then he claims

    6. Read Matthew 25:26-27. How does the master analyze the
      problem? Is the one-talent guy fearful? Does he have a
      legitimate complaint about capitalists? (The master calls
      him “wicked and lazy.”)

      1. Is the master right about him being “wicked?” I
        thought the one-talent guy was claiming a moral
        objection. (So much for the idea that capitalism is
        evil in God’s eye! The “wicked” term no doubt has to
        do with the servant having an obligation to advance
        the cause of the master. “Lazy” applies because he
        did almost nothing.)

    7. Read Matthew 25:28-30. Why should the ten-talent guy get
      the little money that the one-talent guy has? Now, the
      ten-talent guy has “an abundance” while the one-talent guy
      has nothing. Is this fair? (We will compound the mystery
      in the next section when we read Matthew 25:34-40.)

    8. Let’s step back a minute and consider this story. What is
      Jesus teaching us? Is it about money, talent, and time?
      (This is a “kingdom parable.” All of the stories in this
      chapter have to do with the means of getting to heaven.)

      1. When the “stewardship guy” comes around, my reaction
        is that he will end up with more and I will end up
        with less. What does this story teach us about
        stewardship? (The story refers specifically to money,
        but I think it symbolizes all kinds of natural
        talents. The means to “more” is to put your money
        and talents to work ( Matthew 25:16). The great thing
        is that it does not matter how much talent you are
        given at the beginning. What matters is what you do
        with it. If you are faithful, you will be rewarded
        with more. Stewardship is about having more.)

  2. Considering the Poor

    1. Read Matthew 25:31-40. Would the one-talent guy,
      especially after he had been thrown out by the master
      without his money, qualify as (verse 40) “one of the least
      of these brothers?”

      1. Let’s assume that you are the (now) eleven-talent guy
        (the master just gave you the talent of the lazy and
        wicked guy), and you bump into the (now) no-talent
        guy. Does Jesus teach that you should give money to
        the no-talent guy?

        1. Would that not veto the decision of the master?

        2. Do you think it makes a difference that the
          story does not mention money? The hungry get
          food, the thirsty water, the stranger an
          invitation, those needing new clothes got
          clothes. Why does no one get money? (The
          preceding talent story specifically mentions
          money. This story mentions money not at all. If
          we are right that giving the(now)”no-talent” guy
          money after the master took it away would be a
          problem, then supplying the needs of the no-talent guy would make sense.)

      2. Is it possible that even though Jesus refers to money
        in the first parable, it is symbolic and has little
        to do with money? (If you look at Matthew 13:12, you
        will find the same “give more to the diligent, take
        from the lazy” statement in a clearly spiritual

      3. Is it possible that when the eleven-talent man gives
        help to the no-talent guy that he is still investing
        his talents? (We are not told how the talents were
        invested. If this has a spiritual application, then
        it makes sense that the talents are invested in
        kingdom business.)

    2. I’ve asked several questions to make you think about what
      Jesus is teaching us. What lessons can we be sure about in
      these two parables? (That God wants us to be diligent in
      working for Him. That a part of our work is helping those
      in need.)

  3. Nature of Talents

    1. We have found that Jesus told parables that equate our
      talents (about which we must be diligent) to money and
      goods. Do our talents also include our natural abilities?
      (Look again at Matthew 25:15. “According to his abilities”
      must refer to natural abilities. The natural abilities
      were key to the amount of money given by the master.)

    2. Read Matthew 24:45-51. Here is another traveling master
      story. What resource is the servant required to account
      for here? (Responsibility and time. Because the “master is
      staying away a long time” the servant believes he has time
      to abuse those within his care and to waste his own time.)

      1. Is time a talent about which we have to be good
        stewards?(Yes. However, the fact that God created a
        need for humans to sleep shows that some balance
        between work and rest is required.)

        1. What percentage of your time is spent promoting
          your interests as opposed to the interests of

        2. What percentage of your time is essentially
          wasted and helps no one?

        3. How does abusing others and wasting time work
          out for this servant? (Not well. Another
          “weeping and gnashing of teeth” ending.)

    3. Friend, we see that diligent followers of Jesus prosper
      and the lazy, wasteful followers cry and gnash their
      teeth. I’m going to interpret “gnashing” as regret for
      the decisions made in the past. You have decisions to
      make for the future, will you decide to be a faithful,
      diligent servant of Jesus?

  4. Next week: Community.