Tony Evans - Kingdom Stewardship
What do you have that you have not received? God claims comprehensive kingdom ownership of all of creation. So, if God owns everything, you and I own nothing. There are no other owners. God is giving you the freedom to mess up what he created. In fact, he's giving you and me so much freedom, we can hand it over to the devil if we want. If you grab that, that you own nothing, including your own life because it can be taken, you have now set yourself on a journey of understanding life. It's yours to manage, not yours to own. So, in the words of football, how bad do you want it?
God has trouble with a lot of his kids who want to argue with him in his house. His house in the Bible is called all creation, for the earth is the Lord's the fullness thereof, the world and all they that dwell in it. It's his house. And he calls it the kingdom, his rule over everything he has made. God has made it clear that there's only one owner, and you and I are not he or it. That you absolutely own nothing, including your own life, because it can be taken from you. God has declared that he created mankind to be managers or stewards of what he has entrusted to them, but they were never, ever to opt or take a position of ownership.
God has called you and me to be managers, stewards of his kingdom possession. Therefore, the definition of a kingdom steward or kingdom stewardship is the responsibility to faithfully protect and expand the resources God has entrusted to us as managers on his behalf. We are managers on his behalf, and there is the responsibility to protect and expand that which has been entrusted to us to manage for him. God has given us a call to management of what he owns. When the story opens up in Matthew chapter 25, we read the phrase in verse 14, "For it is just like". It is just like. What's the it? Well, in verse 1 of chapter 25, he says, "Then the kingdom of heaven will be compared to". At the end of the story in verse 31, he says, "But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne".
So, Jesus tells this story to help us understand his ownership, our stewardship, and how this whole thing works, and why it matters. He says in verse 14 that a man goes on a long journey. And he takes three slaves and entrusts his possessions to them according to their ability. So, let's pause right there. The man goes on the journey, he calls three of his slaves, and he says, "Now, I'm going to give you five talents, I'm going to give you two talents, and I'm going to give you one talent 'cause I'm only going to give you what I know you can handle according to your ability".
Now, a talent was a weight of worth, a weight of worth. If you were a slave in Jesus's day, it would take you 20 years to accumulate a full talent. That's how valuable a talent was. Let me put it another way. If the talent in biblical days was transposed to be dollars and cents today, a talent would be worth $1.4 million. So, when we talk about a talent, we're not talking about a minimum weight. We're talking about a maximum weight of worth. So, he deposits the talents, the three arenas of talent, the three arenas or spheres that have been entrusted to you and me and us. Everybody has all three, we just don't have the same amount of all three. Gave one five; one, two; and one, one. So, there were different amounts, but we all possess the same three.
Let me just introduce them now. The first thing that we have that has been entrusted to us is time. Says he went on a journey for a long time. You and I have time. We don't have the same amount of time, but we do have the fact of time. When the Bible talks about time, it's not merely talking about tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock. No, when the Bible talks about time, it's talking about the arena in which opportunities exist. Second thing we all have is talent in terms of a capacity and an ability to be productive. Because he's expecting them to produce something. So, there was capacity. Everyone in here has God-given capacity of productivity as a manager under an owner. They were expected to be productive in their time.
So, we've got time, we've got abilities, talent, and then we have resources. Because there was a weight of worth, resources. Not the same amount, not the same degree, but the same category. And so, this man goes on a journey. God has a patent on creation. He created it, so he patented it. And the issue that stands before us is, how will the managers handle what doesn't belong to them, but has been entrusted to them during the absence of the owner? Well, obviously Jesus is talking about himself. On the cross, he died. Three days later, he rose from the dead. Forty days later, he stepped on a cloud and ascended up to heaven.
So, he's now currently absent. He's physically absent. He's gone on a journey. He's left time, he's gone into eternity for now. It says he went for a long time. Jesus died 2.000 years ago, so he been gone a long time. In the midst or in the meantime, he has entrusted his stewards, his managers to act on his behalf with whatever he's entrusted to them. And remember, anything you have has been entrusted to you because you don't own anything, and neither do I. And so, the three servants have been entrusted with possessions, but not theirs. Belongs to the owner.
Now, the story says that guy number one had five talents, and he went out and he got productive and doubled it, five more talents. The second guy had two talents, went out and doubled it. He was productive, so he has now four talents. It says slave number three, we're gonna spend a little time on door number three, dug a hole and put his talent in the hole. Ah, now it gets interesting because we're told in verse 19, "Now after a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them". Jesus talking obviously about himself, he has been going a long time, but I think I need serve notice on me, you, and us, he is coming back.
What you need to understand is, Jesus is gonna come back, and when he comes back, there will be an accounting. The question is going to be asked, "How is my name, my kingdom, and my possessions been handled that I put temporarily on loan to you to handle for me"? That's going to be the question. The Bible declares that this question will be asked, 2 Corinthians 5:10, "At the judgment seat of Christ, for we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account". "Tell me how you used your time for my kingdom. Tell me how you used your talents for my kingdom. Tell me how you used your treasure for my kingdom. Tell me, I want to know. In fact, you don't even have to tell me, I got a tape. For there is a record of the accounting".
He comes to settle an account, and he comes to door number one, slave number one. And he comes to slave number one, the one who had received five talents in verse 20 says, "Master, here you gave me five, I've doubled it". His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master". Door number two, slave number two comes, say, "Master, you gave me two, here's four, I've doubled it". The master said to him in verse 23, "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, but I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master".
So, because they were productive in the time with the resources, when the master settles an account, he says first of all commendation, "Well done 'cause I can depend on you, faithful. And therefore, you were faithful over a few things". The one, verse 24, who had received one talent. "Master, I know you're a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, gathering where you scattered no seed, and I was scared. I was afraid, so I went away and I hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours".
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, master, it ain't all bad. I ain't doubled it, but I ain't lose it, 'cause here, right here it's in the dirt. Let me dig this thing up here, it's in the dirt, here's your talent. So, I can't show you where I did anything with it, but at least I didn't lose it. So, let's talk about slave number three. Just in case there's some slave number threes in the house, I'm talking about slave number three. Slave number three digs a hole and he puts it in there, why? 'Cause he don't want to do the work. Remember, he called lazy. But not only is he that, he's also wicked. So, he's lazy, but he's wicked. That's why he put it in a hole.
See, if you put it in the bank, the bank keeps a record. Banks keeps records. When you make a deposit, there's a record of the deposit. That's the whole point of a bank, to protect it, but so you know what you have, protect it. When you put it in a hole, there is no record. If he comes back, at least he's got his money but if he doesn't come back, I know where this is. And it'll be available to me. He said, "You know me, you know my expectations. You know I'm a hard man. You know I have high demands. You know I don't want cheap leftovers, you know that". You see, at the heart of this guy's problem, he's not sure he's willing to risk it all on the fact that the master's coming back.
See, that's his issue. Verse 28, "Therefore, take away the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents". Okay, that stuff he hid, take it and give it to the guy who maximized his kingdom potential. Here's the principle, verse 29, "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance. But to the one who does not have, even what he has shall be taken away". Ooh, so God is taking back his stuff 'cause it's his, it's his possession. So, since I'm not included in your program, I'm taking it back and I'm gonna hand it to somebody else. Now, here's where it gets interesting and confusing. Verse 30, "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness, in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth".
Now, I know that sounds like hell, but it's not. These are slaves of the master, they belong to the master. Secondly, the issue has nothing to do with eternal life, the issue has to do with the kind of work you performed. And you're not saved by your work, you're saved by grace apart from works. So, this has nothing to do with going to heaven because this has to do with reward for work. And you don't get to heaven by being rewarded for work. By grace are you saved through faith, not according to works, so that no man should boast. So this is not hell. The phrase "out of darkness" and the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is a Semitic phrase that means profound regret. Weeping: you're crying, you're sad. Gnashing of teeth, profound regret.
Many, if not most of the people in here, have varying levels of regret. Things that you look back on and you say, when you think about it, you go, "I would've done this differently, said this differently, been there differently. I would have done it differently if I could do it over again", and there are regrets. And depending on what it is, the profundity of it can express itself in a deep way. "I will cast him into outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth". Okay, what does this mean? When Jesus Christ returns, he is returning to set up his millennial kingdom. That is the 1.000 year reign of Christ on earth.
Let me summarize. When Christ comes back, he loops around the sun. For the Bible says, "That the whole world will see him". So, he will loop around the sun, and he will make his entrance, and he will land, the Bible says, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. And the Bible says that in Jerusalem, he will set up his throne to rule the earth with a rod of iron. To rule it by force, a rod of iron. There will be no rebellion under his 1.000 year rule, none, no open rebellion. And the earth will be what God intended it to be. The lion will lay down with the lamb. All of those Scriptures that talk about not heaven up there, heaven down here on earth.
As Jesus Christ rules the earth as king of the earth, for remember, it's his. He then will assign believers, Christians, to varying levels of responsibility based on their faithful kingdom stewardship. Some will be over cities, some will be over states, some will be over countries, some will be over communities. There will be varying levels of responsibility handed out and varying, watch this, levels of excitement, okay? What he is saying is that God is not going to ignore the fact that you ignored your stewardship. Yes, salvation is free, heaven is free, the price has already been paid, but your stewardship is a responsibility. And the only way you will meet that responsibility is if you give up ownership and say, "I am a manager of all you've entrusted to me, and now I want to manage it according to the owner's specifications". And that includes your life and everything associated with it.
Now, I want to be honest here, there is some struggle there. There is some, you know, but I got to look after me, I got to look after what's mine, I got to remember but it's for God really. You know, and how am I managing all of that? I'm talking about a frame of thinking, a worldview, a perspective. Because God can do a better job owning me than me can do owning me, okay? Okay, I'm not smart enough to own me. Make too many mistakes, too many dumb thoughts, too many ridiculous actions. I'm not smart enough to own me. And nobody is. Whatever inconvenience it is to take this stewardship mentality, let me put it this way. I don't like squash. I'm not a squash guy, okay. I ain't a vegetable guy, but particularly squash. Squash just doesn't do it for me, okay?
So, I will avoid squash. If squash is prepared, I'm going to avoid it, I'm going to pass it on because doesn't get me to eat squash. But if you said to me, "Evans, if you will agree to eat squash every day for a year, I will pay for all of your groceries for the rest of your life", I can tell you now, my attitude toward squash is gonna change because now I'm looking at something I don't prefer through a different lens. I'm looking at the long term benefit that's gonna outweigh the short term inconvenience.
See, if all you see is what's right in front of you right now and you don't believe Jesus is coming back in any serious way, and that those rewards are going to blow your mind, then you're going to take the position of an owner. But if you're willing to take the faith risk that everything I have belongs to him and I want to use it, yes it will benefit me, yes it will benefit other, but at the same time it's all designed to benefit him as the owner, and you will adapt that worldview as a kingdom steward, I can guarantee you based on the Word of God that he is going to blow your mind when he calls for your audit. Man, you can't change yesterday, but you can do a lot about tomorrow.
Each of us are responsible for taking the time, the talent, and the treasures that God has given us and using them for his kingdom purposes. When we refuse to use our time, talents, and treasures for his purpose, then we are bad stewards because God has given us a management responsibility, not an ownership responsibility. The moment we make it for ourselves alone and building our own kingdom, we have now changed from managers to owners.
If you want to be an owner, you got to create your own world. But if you're living in this world, the world that God owns and the world that we were birthed into and one day will depart from, the question on the floor is: Did you take proper responsibility for what I have entrusted to you for my purposes? This is a shift in mindset. When you make this shift in mindset, now the owner, God, can relate to you in a way that benefits you because you are relating to him in the position that he is giving you and me. And that is as managers, not as owners. So, when you look at what God has placed in your hand, under your care and for your responsibility, remember he's going to ask you, "How responsible were you with what I entrusted you to handle for me"?