Tony Evans - Preparing for Eternity
Jesus Christ speaks to why having a future perspective, an eternal perspective, is absolutely critical for your earthly life now, so Jesus wanted to explain to his disciples, both then and now, both there and here, how they were to function during this interim period between the King leaving and the King returning. During this time of rejection, he wanted to teach them how to live now in light of his return. Since he has not yet returned, we are in this period of time between his first coming and his second coming, and so the story, the parable, applies to you and me. Jesus says that a nobleman was going away, referring to himself, and he called ten of his servants, and he told his servants, "I'm leaving, but I want to give each of you ten minas".
A mina is an amount of money. He says, "I'm gonna give you each ten minas during my absence and during the time I'm not here, your job is to do business till I return. That's your job in this gap between my first coming and second coming," in our case between our salvation and our trip to heaven. "I'm going to give you ten minas, and I want you to do business till I come. So, during this time when you are waiting for me to return, I don't want you to be passive. I don't want you to be aimless. I want you to get some business done until I come". And so, he calls the servants, and it says he gave each of them ten minas.
In Matthew 25, verses 14 and following, Jesus tells a similar story, but with a different twist, because in Matthew 25 when he tells the story, everybody got something different. They didn't get the same amount as in this story, so let me explain. He leaves each of them ten minas, and he uses the money to talk about something bigger than money. It's he uses minas, but he's talking about something bigger. He's talking about life. All of us have three of the same things. Everybody here has three of the very same things. What we don't have is what he talks about in Matthew 25, the same amount of the same things. We all have the same things, but we don't have it to the same degree.
The first thing that all of us have is time. Now, we don't have the same amount of time. We're not all gonna live to the same age, but we all have time because we're are alive. With time, time from a kingdom point of view, because the nobleman went away to get a kingdom. The time in the kingdom perspective is a boundary in which opportunities exist. So, within this thing called tick-tock, tick-tock, time, is opportunity, because you use your time to do things, to accomplish things.
The second thing all of us have are talents. We have varying abilities. We don't have the same talents, but we've all been given capacity to do things for the King and for his kingdom, since the parable is about the king going to get a kingdom. We don't all have the same abilities, we don't all do the same thing, but we all have some capacity to serve the King and the kingdom.
The third thing that all of us have are varying degrees of treasures, resources. Everybody doesn't make the same thing, everybody doesn't have the same amount, but we all have some level of resource. So, you all have time, we all have talents, we all have varying amounts of treasures, but we're not all equally valuable to the kingdom when it comes to doing business till he comes. We're valuable as people, but he's not talking about our value as people. All ten were servants. All ten belonged to the nobleman. All ten belonged to the master, and he says, "Do business till I come".
See, a lot of us are asking God to do business that he's waiting on us to get done. Any time in history that he wants to use, means he must borrow that time from you. Any talent in history that God wants to use, means he must borrow that talent from you. Any treasure that he wants to use in history, he must borrow that treasure from you. That's why all through the Bible he must find a person, pick a person, and use a person because he's entrusted with a person the minas, the time, the talents, and the treasures for what he wants to get done in his absence until he comes back, and he is banking on you because of what he left behind to you: time, talents, and treasures. Not the same amount, but the same categories in varying degrees.
He says you are to do business until the nobleman in the story, the king, returns. That you and I are stewards of what we have been left with while we live here since salvation and the job of a steward is to protect and expand the assets of another. The job of a steward is to protect and expand the assets of another, and so, God is expecting that your life (time, talents, and treasures), will protect and expand his kingdom purposes. The nobleman, Jesus, returns and all of those who are his followers are called to him, and his question is, "What did you do with the time, the talents, and the treasures that I left you with during my absence, that I told you to do business for me while I'm gone"?
The question on that day is not what did you do for you? The question on that day is, "What did you do," as you'll see in a moment, "with what was mine on loan to you"? While the King is gone, he has left everyone in this room who has accepted Jesus Christ a remaining amount of time, spiritually endowed talent, and a certain amount of resources, but all the same category, and he says, "Do business". And then, he returned, and he wanted to know what kinda business did you do? This is called, in 1 Corinthians 3, the judgment seat of Christ, when he will evaluate, "What kind of business did you do for me and the advancement of my kingdom that benefited others for which I got the glory"? "The first appeared, saying, 'Master, your mina has made ten minas more.' And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are going to be in authority over ten cities.'"
Ooh, ooh. When the master, the king, came back, he called the first guy. He said, "Now, I gave you ten minas. Show me what you got". He says, "Master, you gave me ten, and I made ten more. In other words, master, there's a hundred percent return. I'm not just giving you back what you gave. I'm doubling what you gave me and here is ten more. I expanded what you gave me". The response of the master was accolades. "Well done, my good and faithful servant. I am going to put you over ten cities". Please notice something. The reward was consistent with the expansion. Heaven is participating in God's rule and being given responsibilities commensurate with your investment of your life during this interim period. We're told next that the second guy comes, and the second guy says, "Master, your mina, master, has made five minas".
My greatest concern is that you are a Christian and know of your salvation. Jesus Christ died on the cross in your place, as your substitute, to pay for your sins in order to give you eternal life. He has to give it away. It can't be earned, so if you will go to Jesus Christ now, acknowledge your need for a Savior because you recognize you are a sinner, and then place your trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of eternal life, he will grant that to you right here, right now. Go to him and simply say, "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner. I recognize I need a Savior. I'm trusting you alone to be that Savior. Enter my life now. Cleanse me, forgive me, and give me the eternal life you promised". Do that, and you're on your way to heaven".
"I had 50% increase". You got five. "I didn't get ten like the first guy. I got five". The master says, "You are over five cities". Notice what he didn't say: well done. He only said well done to the first guy 'cause the first guy maximized the opportunities. Second guy was half-stepping. He doesn't get a well done. In other words, he could have done more, but he didn't. He was 50% there, and so, he did not get accolades. It's like a person at work who goes over and above and the person at work who just does the basics, but he does get recognition in terms of the reward. He gets five cities. Note that is commensurate with his action, and so he comes, and he holds account these two, but then we're introduced to homeboy number three.
"Another came, saying, 'Master'". Oh, now he talking right. I mean, he talking right. He's talking like a committed follower. He says, "Master," like folk in church hollering out "Jesus". You sound good. "Master," his terminology was accurate, "here is your mina," here is what you left me, "which I kept put away in a handkerchief," 'cause I was scared. He says, "I was afraid, because you are an exacting man; you take what you did not lay down and you reap what you did not sow". In other words, you're hard to please. I was just concerned about not losing it. I was playing defense. I was concerned about not losing it. He said to him in verse 22, "By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Do you know that I am an exacting man," did you know that I'm an exacting man, "taking up what I did not lay down, reaping where I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in the bank," at least I would have collected some interest.
You worthless slave. You call me master, but it hasn't changed anything you do. It hasn't changed any of your priorities. There is still no time, talents, or treasures used for me, my kingdom, my name, and the good of others, but you call me master. Your theology has not affected your activity and that has made you valueless to my kingdom. Bible speaks about a hundredfold repayment, so those of you who are here today and you're living the best Christian life you know how, you're giving your time, your talents, and your treasures for God's kingdom, and it's not been fair to you, it's not been right by you, guess what God says?
I think it's in Matthew chapter 5, around verse 11. He says when you're having to pay a price for doing right, notice what he says, he says rejoice. "Wait a minute. How am I gonna rejoice when I'm not being treated right"? He said because your reward is rich. He gives us some things now, but he's talking about the big payday. He says, "You worthless slave, you wouldn't even go to a bank". Now, why wouldn't he at least put it in the bank? 'Cause the bank keeps records, so when you deposit in the bank there's a record. He puts it in a handkerchief 'cause he does not want a record. He does not want a record of where this mina is. Why not? "In case the king doesn't come back, I still got my mina. I still got my time. I still got my talent. I can live my life the way I wanna live it".
"I left you here, and you were absolutely of no value to me. There were people I wanted you to touch, lives I wanted you to change. There was ministry I wanted you to do. I had a plan for your life and all I heard from you was, 'Bless me. Bless me. Bless me. Now bless me. Bless me.'" Highly favored. Blessed and highly favored. He says, "You worthless slave". So, what are we gonna do with him, Lord? He says in verse 24, "Tell the bystanders to take the minas away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas". Mm, mm. "Tell the bystanders," so this is everybody watching your conversation with Jesus. This is all the other Christian friends that you knew who are looking at your evaluation and your accountability and watching Jesus call you worthless, and then, "Take his minas and let's give a bonus to the one who did ten. We're gonna give him a bonus, see"?
'Cause there are a few people here who not only gonna get the ten minas, they're gonna get the bonus, and the bonus will be God taking from you and giving to them so that you wind up in heaven with less. You don't even wind up with what you started with 'cause he's gonna take that mina that you used for nothing and hand it to somebody who went all out for the kingdom and for eternity. What's the principle? What's the principle? He gives the principle in verse... the people say, "But, master, the guy already has ten. He says, 'Well, let me tell you the principle. I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.'"
You don't get credit just for being a servant. You're saved by grace. You don't get credit for that. That's all of God, so you don't get credit for being a Christian. You get credit for serving the Master and using the time and the talents and the treasures that he has entrusted to you for his glory, to advance his kingdom for the benefit of others to his glory. That's what he credits. You don't get credit for going to church. You don't get credit for saying, "I accepted Jesus when I was ten years old". He says, "You accepted me when you were ten. You're now 70. Let's discuss 60 years of time that I gave you, of talents that I gave you, of treasures that I gave you over that 60-year period of time. Let's talk about that".
Yeah, you get heaven because you're saved, but you get rewarded because you're a servant, so there's gonna be a lot of transfer of wealth in heaven. See, this story, the guy didn't take the king seriously. They didn't live in light of his return. He didn't live in light of his return. God wants every day that you give, get up, I get up, and we all fall short in this. Me, too, but as a pattern he wants when we get up in the morning to live in light of his return. That because it could be today the question that you and I have to ask when we get up in the morning is simply this: "God, what eternal difference do you want me to make today"?
Some days they'll be minuscule, other days they'll be huge, but it's being available. "Lord, if you wanna borrow some of your time you loaned me, if you wanna borrow some of your talents you loaned me, if you wanna borrow some of your treasure you loaned me, then I am available today not just to ask you to bless me. I'm available today for you to work through me to be a blessing to others and to build my account for glory". But he says if you'll invest in eternity while you're in time, you gain so much more, but I hear what you are saying. You're saying, "But wait a minute. At least I'm in heaven".
Let me explain something. Heaven is not an equal-opportunity experience. Everybody who's in heaven doesn't experience the same amount of heaven. That's why the Bible talks about loss of reward. I don't like squash. I call it the unholy vegetables. I don't like squash, nor its cousin okra, okay? I don't like squash, but suppose you told me, "Evans, I wanna make a deal with you". I'll say, "Okay, what's the deal"? "I know you don't like squash, but I'll tell you what. If you will eat squash for a year for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for a year for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, three meals a day of squash, I will pay all your bills for the rest of your life".
My view of squash has greatly changed. I'll never look at squash the way I used to look at it again, because the reward for the inconvenience is so much bigger. The reward for the inconvenience is so much greater. What God says, "If I can get you to see the eternal perspective, the reward for the inconvenience is gonna be so much greater if you live this life with that life in mind".
You have two choices with your life. I have two choices with mine. We can spend our lives or we can invest them. Now, when you spend your life you're just taking what you have and putting it out there without a beneficial return necessarily, but something you may even need or want. When you invest it, that makes you future oriented. You invest for a return later. Far too many people, even Christians, are spending their lives, not investing them. They're not looking for the long-term payoff. They're looking for the short-term experience.
Well, it's okay to spend some of which you have, but when you spend all of what you have, you wind up with nothing in retirement and, you know, you've not taken into consideration the years that are to come. And that's what kids do. They just wanna spend it all now 'cause they're not thinking about what the future holds, but when you mature, that's gonna make you think about how you're going to invest what you have, not just get rid of it for momentary pleasure and excitement. When it comes to your life and my life, become an investor, not live as a spender. Ask the question, "How will what I do now, think now, say now, how I act now will inform the years to come and my eternal state"? We only have one life to live. It's like a coin. You can spend it any way you want, but you can only spend it once. This one life that you have and whatever of it you have left, spend it the right way by becoming an investor for the future, not just a spender for the present.