Lesson 24 | Sabbath, 9 December 2023
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” Matthew 25:14, 15.
“It is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner be won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in the universe.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 328.
CALLED TO BE STEWARDS
1.Who provides every person with gifts and talents to be used in stewardship? What did the apostle Paul say should be done with the best gifts?
Matthew 25:14, 15. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
1 Corinthians 12:4, 30, 31. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit…. 30Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31But covet earnest- ly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
“Before He left His disciples, Christ ‘breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ John 20:22. Again He said, ‘Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you.’ Luke 24:49. But not until after the ascension was the gift received in its fullness. Not until through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered themselves fully for His work- ing was the outpouring of the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ. ‘When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.’ Ephesians 4:8. ‘Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ,’ the Spirit ‘dividing to every man severally as He will.’ Ephesians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ, but their actual possession depends upon our reception of the Spirit of God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 327.
2.In the Old Testament Hebrew weight system, one talent equals 34 kilograms (74 pounds) of silver. How does God’s gift of grace become a talent? How diverse were the gifts in the parable and in reality?
Revelation 16:21. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
Ephesians 2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.
Matthew 25:15. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
“The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents represented in the parable. It includes all gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. All are to be employed in Christ’s service. In becoming His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellow men.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 328.
3.According to the Master’s words of life in the holy Scriptures, what special gifts of the Spirit become talents? How can one’s mental capabilities be turned into a talent?
Romans 12:2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
1 Corinthians 2:16. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
“God requires the training of the mental faculties. He designs that His servants shall possess more intelligence and clearer discernment than the worldling, and He is displeased with those who are too careless or too indolent to become efficient, well-informed workers. The Lord bids us love Him with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and with all the mind. This lays upon us the obligation of developing the intellect to its fullest capacity, that with all the mind we may know and love our Creator. “If placed under the control of His Spirit, the more thoroughly the intellect is cultivated, the more effectively it can be used in the service of God. The uneducated man who is consecrated to God and who longs to bless others can be, and is, used by the Lord in His service. But those who, with the same spirit of consecration, have had the benefit of a thorough education, can do a much more extensive work for Christ. They stand on vantage ground.”–Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 333.
4.Why is speech–the second special gift–so important? How is it turned into a talent?
Matthew 12:37. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
James 3:9, 10. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
“The power of speech is a talent that should be diligently cultivated. Of all the gifts we have received from God, none is capable of being a greater blessing than this. With the voice we convince and persuade, with it we offer prayer and praise to God, and with it we tell others of the Redeemer’s love. How important, then, that it be so trained as to be most effective for good. “The culture and right use of the voice are greatly neglected, even by per- sons of intelligence and Christian activity. There are many who read or speak in so low or so rapid a manner that they cannot be readily understood. Some have a thick, indistinct utterance; others speak in a high key, in sharp, shrill tones, that are painful to the hearers. Texts, hymns, and the reports and other papers presented before public assemblies are sometimes read in such a way that they are not understood and often so that their force and impressiveness are destroyed.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 335.
BLESSINGS FROM CHRIST
5.The third special gift is sacred influence. What are Christians called to do? Therefore, what did Christ do with Simon Peter, and what does He want to do with each of His children today?
1 Corinthians 10:31, 32. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.
Matthew 5:16; 16:17, 18. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 16:17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
“This is a responsibility from which we cannot free ourselves. Our words, our acts, our dress, our deportment, even the expression of the countenance, has an influence. Upon the impression thus made there hang results for good or evil which no man can measure. Every impulse thus imparted is seed sown which will produce its harvest. It is a link in the long chain of human events, extending we know not whither. If by our example we aid others in the de- velopment of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same influence upon others, and they upon still others. Thus by our unconscious influence thousands may be blessed.
“Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed, and another and another; and as they increase, the circle widens, until it reaches the very shore. So with our influence. Beyond our knowledge or control it tells upon others in blessing or in cursing.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 339, 340.
SOWING FOR ETERNITY
6.What fourth special gift should never be buried or ignored? No matter whether one is rich or poor, what will happen if he has been given a talent and does not use it?
Ephesians 5:15, 16. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Matthew 25:18, 24-27. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his Lord’s money…. 24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
“Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time.
“The value of time is beyond computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now that we are to form characters for the future, immortal life. It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 342.
7.What divine gift must be cared for as a fifth talent by exercising faithful stewardship over it? What will be the fate of one who does not do this?
Romans 12:1. I beseech you there- fore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
“All should have an intelligent knowledge of the human frame that they may keep their bodies in the condition necessary to do the work of the Lord. The physical life is to be carefully preserved and developed that through humanity the divine nature may be revealed in its fullness. The relation of the physical organism to the spiritual life is one of the most important branches of education. It should receive careful attention in the home and in the school. All need to become acquainted with their physical structure and the laws that control natural life. He who remains in willing ignorance of the laws of his physical being and who violates them through ignorance is sinning against God. All should place themselves in the best possible relation to life and health. Our habits should be brought under the control of a mind that is itself under the control of God.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 348.
For additional study
“There is nothing in us of ourselves by which we can influence others for good. If we realize our helplessness and our need of divine power, we shall not trust to ourselves. We know not what results a day, an hour, or a moment may determine, and never should we begin the day without committing our ways to our heavenly Father. His angels are appointed to watch over us, and if we put ourselves under their guardianship, then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand. When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence, the angels will be by our side, prompting us to a better course, choosing our words for us, and influencing our actions. Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious, but mighty power in drawing others to Christ and the heavenly world.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 341.