We now continue our message series, “Kingdom Come” where we learn what God’s Kingdom is like and how we bring it here on the earth.
Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is:
in your midst – NIV
within you – KJV
within you and among you and surrounding you – AMP
The intersection of where the Kingdom of Heaven meets earth is right here at the tip of our toes.
This week, we’re continuing to learn of how the Kingdom of God is like a treasure. In particular, we’re going to learn what we’re to do with the earthly treasures that God has given us from His kingdom.
One thing that we first need to understand, however, is this simple truth.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
Colossians 1:16 (KJV)
For by him (Jesus) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him
Everything, including our very own selves, belong to Jesus. Everything that we have, we received from God. Therefore, anything that we give, we give from God and not really of ourselves. In every area of life, we are simply managers, or stewards, of God’s provision. Having this understanding keeps us balanced in life and reminds us to be completely generous and not greedy or selfish.
As Jesus said when He sent the twelve disciples out:
Freely you have received; freely give.
and as God said to Abram, we are blessed in order to be a blessing to others.
Whatever treasure God has entrusted us with, whether it be a talent or gifting, a listening ear of compassion, a bottle of water, finances, or just some time to spend together, it has been entrusted to us for a purpose. It isn’t the treasures that we possess that we’re accountable for before the Lord. How we steward these treasures, however, is the critical part that we will be held accountable for.
When it comes to bringing God’s Kingdom here on the earth, our stewardship of what God has entrusted to us is essentially how this happens. God gives us the resource, we choose what to do with it. God gives us authority, we choose how and whether or not to use it. God enables us, we choose whether or not to engage.
When it comes to the Kingdom of God, many of its members are choosing to live a lot less like princes and princesses of the King of Kings and more like a bunch of pirates. Ay matey, there arrr pirates in the Bible and they ain’t spoken of very highly!
Jesus said about the coming of the end:
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
The lazy, wicked servant was essentially a pirate. He was entrusted with a bag of gold and chose to go out and bury it. He probably even had a treasure map stepped off in paces to remind him of where it was hidden. As a result, he had to walk the plank into the great lake of fire for all eternity.
The other servants furthered their master’s kingdom and multiplied what they had been entrusted with, just as we are to do with what God entrusts to us. The pirate hid it away, rendering it useless and causing no change to take place.
Pirates have the wealth of kings, but choose to live like paupers. Pirates could enjoy the finest things in life, but settle for far lesser things. Pirates steal and take every possible shortcut.
Royalty turns a pit into a safe refuge, a prison into a palace, a few loaves of bread into a feast.
The choice between pirate and royalty begins in our identity. Do we realize who we are in Christ? Do we realize the treasures that God has entrusted into our care? Do we realize what resources are available to us?
This choice between pirate and royalty is then realized through our actions. Once we realize who we are, what gifts we possess and what resources we have available to us, our actions reveal who we are. Do we hide them away and continue living worldly? Or do we share them freely and live by faith? Are we living as a pirate or as a royal member of God’s kingdom?
Though there are many examples throughout the Bible of such pirates, the best example that I can think of is Jonah. Jonah was given the treasure in the form of a word of revelation that would save the entire city of Nineveh. Well, it was actually a word that God was going to destroy the city in 40 days, but Jonah apparently had either a fear or an understanding that Nineveh would repent at this warning and be saved. Otherwise, he would have gladly delivered the message that the Lord was going to overthrow them! Instead of being obedient and sharing this message, he ran off with this treasure hidden within him to the port at Joppa and left on his ship toward the port at Tarshish.
The Lord sent a great storm that was about to destroy this pirate’s ship. The crew knew that it was because Jonah was running away from the Lord that this was happening, so they agreed with Jonah’s request to toss him into the sea. This pirate was then given a new sea-faring vessel in the form of a great fish, but this time, it was headed straight for Nineveh and Jonah’s living quarters was inside the belly of this fish.
After this pirate repented and chose to share the treasure that the Lord had entrusted to him, he was vomited out of the fish at the city of Nineveh. Those living in Nineveh fasted and repented of their evil ways, so God had compassion on them and forgave their sins. Like most pirates, Jonah didn’t have the best attitude toward the good fortune of others; especially their good fortune at his expense. He became angry at God’s compassion and setup camp to wait and see if they would still be destroyed. He wanted a front row seat to see God’s wrath being poured out as every pirate likes to observe a good fight.
We then find revealed the mysterious ways of God’s provision. God first provided a leafy plant to give Jonah shade. Then, God provided a worm for Jonah that eats the shade plant. Then, when the shade and protection was gone, God provided a scorching east wind as the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. God’s provision of these three things was an object lesson, which God explained:
8b Jonah wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
And this ends the story of Jonah, the pirate.
This morning, God is warning us not to be pirates, but to embrace the royalty that God says that we are. He is warning us not to be selfishly consumed with our own comfort and desires, but to generously give. He is warning us not to bury the many, various treasures that He has entrusted to us, but to use and multiply them. He is reminding us that nothing that we have is ours, it is all His and He has entrusted it to us to manage well. There will be a time of accountability when He returns for us.
We are reminded to share those treasures and by sharing them, to further His Kingdom. We are being called to be good stewards that grow and multiply what He has given us.
Next week, you’ll notice a treasure map out in the hallway. Below that map will be a legend of ways to further God’s Kingdom in small, but potentially powerful ways. Everyone is encouraged to set out on this spiritual treasure hunt and to do some of the tasks located in this legend. As you do them, mark them off, with an “X”, of course. As we work together on these tasks, we’ll be applying what we’ve been learning and together will embark on the adventure of giving spiritual treasures to those around us. We’ll be bringing God’s Kingdom here on the earth.