Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer talks about biblical risk. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer.
I'm your host, Molly Midovitch. Hey, I don't know about you, but whenever I've made a big change in my life, things like starting a new business or moving to a new state, getting married, having kids, there's always at least a little bit of fear that comes with it. Like, what if it doesn't work out? What if things just get harder or what if we end up losing everything?
Often, it's easier to just maintain the status quo, right? But today, Pastor J.D. explains that if we want to do great things for God's kingdom, it's going to involve some risk. It's the challenging conclusion of our short teaching series titled Staying Faith. Now grab your Bible and notebook and let's spend our last day together in 2022, understanding God just a little bit more. Matthew 25, we'll begin in verse 14. Jesus is telling the parable. He said, For the coming of the kingdom of heaven will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one talent, each according to his own ability.
Then he went away. One commentator says you ought to translate that bags of gold. He gave to one five bags of gold, one two bags of gold, and to one one bag of gold. They had no say in what they received. Each received it according to his own ability.
They weren't in charge of how much they got. They were in charge of investing all that they had had received. Verse 16, So he who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. Now after a long time, the master of their servants came, and he settled accounts with them. He who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, Master, you delivered to me five talents. Look, here, I've made five talents more for you. His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful over a little.
I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. Verse 22, And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you gave me two talents.
Look, I've made two talents more. His master said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little.
I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. The same exact statement. He made much less for the master, but he started with much less. So he gets the same exact statement because he did what the first guy did, and that is, he invested everything he was given for the kingdom of the master. Verse 24, But he who had received the one talent came forward, saying, And listen, by the way, listen to the difference in tone in how he thinks about the master. Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, gathering where you scattered no seed. So I was afraid. And I went and I hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours. But his masters answered him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gathered where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away and cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.
In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This servant was condemned not for what he had done, but for what he had not done. And I say that because when most of us think of the concept of wicked, we think of it in terms of people who break the commandments. Someone who murders, that's breaking one of the commandments, so that makes a person wicked, or somebody who is a sexual deviant, or somebody who lies, or somebody who embezzles. But here you see that wicked can apply just as much to a failure to invest your life to the fullest potential for the kingdom of God as it can to an egregious violation of the laws of God. That's a very important and sobering concept.
Wicked and worthless can apply every bit as much to someone who just fails to invest his or her life to its fullest potential for the kingdom of God as it does to someone who stands in egregious violation of the laws of God. Why didn't this third servant invest his value of gold? I'm sure that it felt risky. Because when you invest something, you run the risk of losing it altogether, right? So maybe, maybe it's a better idea to cling to what you got. Maybe it's a better idea to hold it tightly.
Maybe it's a better idea to just, you know, possess it and enjoy it for yourself, hold on to it. This parable shows you that such a mentality is wicked. To be obedient is to risk what you have for the kingdom of God. John Piper wrote a book, a little short little book called Risk is Right, in which he explains that throughout the Bible, most believers, in fact, look at it, you'll see that most of the Bible characters are put in situations where they are called upon to take risk for the kingdom of God, and they're never really sure how it's going to turn out. For example, David and Goliath is one I've used with you before, but here you've got David. At no point in the narrative about David is there a huddle where God tells David what's about to happen. You don't find God pulled David aside and be like, hey, I want you to know there's going to be a nine and a half foot giant you're going to face. You get your little slingshot and your rocks and I want you to sling a rock and hit him in the head.
Don't worry about it. I'll make the rock go right in between the, you know, the helmet and everything. I'll cut and then you go cut his head off. That's how it's going to go down.
That never happens. David sees a giant that's nine and a half feet tall. David thinks, I think that that giant needs to be put down.
I think I'm the guy to do it. And he takes a slingshot. He's the only one out of all of Israel, takes a slingshot and rocks and he walked out there and he puts the giant down. He was unsure entirely of how that was going to turn out.
He took a risk. Another one in the book of First Samuel that's actually I prefer even more than the David Goliath story. Holy, anybody knows about it. The story of Jonathan and his armor bearer attacking a garrison of Philistine soldiers. Jonathan was David's best friend. Jonathan and his armor bearer are out kind of, you know, wandering through and they see this huge garrison of Philistine soldiers in this little fort up on top of the hill. And Jonathan says, I think God wants us to take down that garrison of Philistines. My favorite part of this story is how Jonathan persuades his armor bearer to go with him.
Listen to this. First Samuel 14, six, come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. That's the Philistines. Perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord, you know, from saving whether by many or by few, perhaps.
If I'm the armor bearer, I'm like, I'm sorry, bro. If you're taking me up to attack an entire garrison of Philistine soldiers by ourselves, I'm going to need more than your perhaps. I'm going to need something written down that this says this is the will of God, but they do it. They took the risk and God gave them the victory. Queen Esther, if you know that story, if you remember this from Sunday school, Queen Esther is the queen in a very pagan place and she knows she's got to take a risk to be able to save Israel. She doesn't know how it's going to turn out. You want to know how we know she doesn't know? Esther 4.14, if I perish, I perish.
She has no idea, but she knows that she is in this place, in this kingdom, to take this risk and she does it. Paul's entire life was one risk after another. Piper says this in his book, Paul never knew where the next blow would come from.
Every day he risked his life for the cause of God. The roads were not safe. The rivers were not safe. His own people, the Jews, were not safe. The Gentiles were not safe. The cities were not safe. The wilderness wasn't safe. The sea wasn't safe. Even the so-called Christian brothers weren't safe.
Safety was a mirage. It simply did not exist for the Apostle Paul. The entire early church was an example of a generation who risked. Every time they preached a sermon, every time they made a convert, every time they held a prayer meeting, every time they did a miracle, they were putting themselves at risk to be put out of existence because they were small.
They had no legal representation. Everything they did was a risk knowing that they could be snuffed out of existence by forces much more powerful than them. You say, but I want some kind of guarantee. God rarely gives his people one. Piper says this, listen, it is the will of God that we be uncertain about how life on earth will turn out for us and that we therefore take risks for the cause of God. What happens if you don't take risks? Well, this parable shows you, doesn't it? If you don't take risks, this parable tells you very plainly what happens. If you want an Old Testament example of this, think the nation of Israel who is about to go into the promised land, and so they send out 12 spies.
All 12 of them come back, but they got different reports. There's a group of 10 of them, and the group of 10 says, hey, there are giants in this place. I don't mean like big men. I mean like giants. Like they're twice our size. We felt like, this is literally what it says, we felt like grasshoppers next to them. And whenever you got grasshoppers and giants going at it, it never works out well for the grasshoppers.
This is bad. And the other two spies said, that's all true, but we think God wants us to take this place. He gave us this land, didn't he? We should go in there. Israel was persuaded by the 10.
Probably not permanently. They just thought, hey, let's take a little time. Let's kind of work up our resources a little bit, come up with some strategy, maybe form some new weapons, and they hesitated. God's verdict on their hesitation was wickedness. In fact, this is really interesting. When God characterizes the report of the 10 spies, he calls it a wicked report. Now here's what's fascinating about that.
Not a single word of what they said was untrue. It was wicked because it was not accompanied by a risk that says we will go in despite the danger and we believe that God will give us the victory. God smote those 10 spies with a plague.
They immediately died and then Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and every single one of them died when not a single one of them saw the promised land. You see, risk is dangerous in the kingdom of God, but to not risk is even more dangerous because you are guaranteed the displeasure of the almighty God. You're listening to Summit Life with JD Greer. You know, this time of year is really critical for ministries like Summit Life as we close the books on another year. And I think for a lot of people that's kind of surprising because they don't really know what all is involved in funding a ministry like this.
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Or visit us online at jdgreer.com. So here's my question to you. What are the risks to which God might be calling you? Maybe it's a new ministry that God has put on your heart. Maybe it is to pursue adoption. Maybe it's a divinely directed career change.
Maybe it's something a little closer at hand. Maybe it's forgiving somebody. Maybe it's to share Christ with somebody. God's put it in you to do that, but you know that you're putting a lot at risk to open your mouth and make that testimony.
Maybe it's to begin to reorder your marriage God's way and to do it His way, and you're afraid. It might be to just be obedient to God with your finances, because every time we talk about this, you know in your heart that you ought to be honoring God with your finances, but you're afraid. It's not that your heart's not willing.
It is, but you're like, if I gave God the first fruits, how am I going to take care of myself? You have to take that risk. Obedience always involves risk. Your choices are to obey and risk or to disobey and live under the illusion of safety and the guaranteed anger of God. Well, taking that risk produces fear, doesn't it?
Right? Isn't that what the guy in the parable said in verse 25? I was afraid. How do you overcome that fear?
How do you overcome that fear? The answer is revealed, I believe, in the different attitudes these servants have toward their master. The ones who invested their talents, they're filled with a sense of eager anticipation. That's what the first two are like, but the third one, you heard the different spirit, right? I knew you were a hard man.
He's even critical. You reap where you didn't sow. I was afraid. There are two things the faithful servant had that the unfaithful servant did not. Number one, the faithful servants had a trust in their master's goodness, and that gave them a freedom and a confidence in risking. The apostle Paul, who I told you was a risk taker, here's how he described it. He gives you a little glimpse in the middle of the book of Romans.
He's actually talking about something else, but he just gives you this glimpse of why he took these kinds of risks. Verse 31, Romans 8, what then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? If God is into these risks, if he's the one that I'm following, who could possibly stand against me? He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all, would he not also with him freely give us all things? Paul's like, look, when I was his enemy, God gave Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. You think God is sitting in heaven now keeping score of where I mess up so he can pounce on me and take his fist and mash me down and say, hi, you screwed up.
Now I get a chance to punish you. He's like, that's not what God is. Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? God is the one who would actually bring charges against me, but God is the one who justified me. Who is the one to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died.
More than that, he was raised. He's now at the right hand of God, interceding for me. Who could separate me from the love of Christ? Well, tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sore.
No, no, no. In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Why? Because I am sure that neither death nor life, angels nor rulers, things present or things to come, powers, height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation could ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore, Paul says, I will risk if the cross reveals how God feels about me.
How would I not feel safe jumping into his arms? If the cross reveals how God feels about the world, why would I not ask God for great things? If the master is in control of the markets into which I'm investing, why would I not take great risk for the kingdom of God? If I know that the cross is what he has invested in the world, why would I not ask God for great things? I wrote several years ago, this thing that I use in my time with God is called the gospel prayer.
I taught it to you a few years ago. The last phrase of the gospel prayer, part four, is this. As I pray, I'll measure your compassion by the cross and your power by the resurrection, which means I want to see my world through the lens of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and I want to start to ask God for things that are in line with the measure of the love that he demonstrated at the cross.
What if you begin to look at your world through that lens? Are we asking for things that are worthy of the sacrifice that he made? Is this church dreaming in line with the greatness of his sacrifice? Do the size of our prayers match the size of his sacrifice? Do not insult his sacrifice through small dreams and weak prayers. You see, the problem with our dream summit is not that they are too big, it's that they are too small, because Jesus shed his blood and he said, if you just ask, I will give you what you are asking for. Ask of me, I'll give you the nations as your inheritance. I don't think that we honor God when we sit around and talk about just how to protect our church and how to preserve our children. Yes, I want to preserve our children, but I want to convert everybody else's children too.
Why? Because Jesus died for them. We serve a God who went to a cross. That's his statement of love for the world and who raised from the dead. We believe that he still speaks and dead people still come out of the graves spiritually. We believe he still gives sight to the blind. We still believe that he makes the lame in their hearts walk. We believe he makes them rise up and leap like a deer. We believe that he still feeds the hungry multitudes. We believe that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The problem is not that his compassion has dried up, it's that our faith is no longer in the goodness of the master. So we will ask based on the goodness of the master and we will attempt great things for God.
Let me ask this for you personally. For you personally, is what you're doing with your life worthy of the price that he paid? Are you going to get to heaven and feel like after you walk into heaven, yeah, what I did with my life was worth the cross? Maybe in your retirement years.
We get people here all over the age spectrum. Is how you're spending your retirement worthy of the price that Jesus paid? I believe that every single one of us ought to be in a mentality, every one of us, that says, is my life worth the price that he paid? Am I investing in eternity? Am I giving this away because I believe that the master's plan is the one that is important?
Is what you're living for worth him dying for? It's not a hero complex. It's not a lust for adventure or bravado or the need to earn God's will that leads people to risk.
It's not a certain personality type. It's just faith in the ever-loving, ever-faithful Son of God. And we leap. So they had a trust in their master's goodness. They had, number two, a desire to share in their master's joy. They had a desire to share in their master's joy. They're excited about his return. They're excited about seeing his kingdom expand, so they risk. So the master, when he returns, gives them two things. He gives them, you see these, greater responsibility.
The one who had five got 10, right? And then he gives them a greater share in his, it's a great word for joy. It's the word kara in Greek.
So we get the name kara. It means delight, a share in the master's delight. Now, greater responsibility. I will confess to you, and I'm sorry if this lets you down, I do not understand or know exactly what it means when it says that those of us who've been faithful here will get greater authority and responsibility. I don't know exactly what he's talking about, but I know that it's taught multiple places in the Bible and that those of us who are faithful with what God gave us here, we're not responsible for how much he gave us, but those of us who are faithful to invest 100% of what God gave us here, God gives greater authority and responsibility there.
That's what happens. But then he gives them a greater delight. There was a joy that drove Jesus that was in the heart of God that is almost indescribable. Hebrews 12 two refers to it when it says, for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame. What it means is that when Jesus was headed into the worst torture any human being had ever experienced, listen, he was driven by joy. There was a joy in his heart that caused the cross to seem almost meaningless. The joy was so overwhelming that even the greatest sacrifice felt like nothing to him. You come to a point when you get saved, where you realize that the joy that was driving him was the joy of seeing you saved. When you grasp that, and when you begin to follow Jesus, that joy begins to become yours. When that happens, watch, your hold on your stuff loosens and your hold on other people tightens because you begin to realize what Jesus died for and you begin to realize the only thing that matters. How much have you leveraged for eternity? How much have you done without?
How much have you lived on less with your talents, your treasure, and your time, and invested it for the only kingdom that actually matters because behold, the master returns? Let me use this, by the way, to clear up something I said last week. I gave you this statement, God only loves a cheerful giver. And some of you asked this question, it's a fair question, what happens when I don't feel cheerful? And if I were honest last week, I would have told you, yeah, that happens to me a lot.
What happens when you don't feel cheerful? Sometimes you give as an act of faith, knowing that one day I'm going to be glad that I did. Sometimes my heart doesn't feel it, but I kind of fast forward and say, there is coming a day when the master returns and then I'm going to be glad that I invested and I'm going to go ahead and like by faith believe that I'll be joyful and repent that I'm not joyful right now and ask God to change my heart. I mean right now when I'm giving, I'm not happy, I'm angry and I'm resentful, but I'm going to do it because I believe that the master returns and one day I'm going to be glad. Faith is living in a way now that you know one day you're going to be glad you did. That's what faith is. So Summit Church, I ask you again, what opportunities for risk do you have? In the Bible, the opportunities varied.
They were never the same. Rahab, it was the hide spies. David fight a giant. The disciples defeat 5,000.
All were different. But the point is God always puts his servants in situations where they are called upon to risk for his kingdom. What opportunity has God given you?
Where is God telling you to obey? For many of you, the real risk is more than money. Sometimes writing a check is easy, but getting off the sidelines and engaging in ministry, reaching out to a coworker or going on your first mission trip, that's the risk.
Are you ready to engage? You're listening to Summit Life and today we've come to the end of a short but powerful teaching series called Staying Faith. If you missed any of the messages in this study, you can find them all online free of charge at jdgrier.com. December 31st is the last day to have your gift count for 2022. So if you've never given to support Summit Life, right now is the time to take that step. Every dollar counts, helping more people hear and grow in the gospel through this program and our other free resources. If Summit Life has made a difference in your walk with God, will you give that gift to someone else today by giving a generous year-end gift? Don't delay.
2022 is almost gone. When you donate, we'll say thanks by sending you the 2023 Summit Life Planner. It comes with Bible verses and a Bible reading plan to help you keep Jesus at the center of all your plans in the new year.
Ask for the planner when you give a critical year-end gift by calling 866-335-5220 or by giving online at jdgrier.com. And if you haven't yet signed up for our email list, be sure to do that today. It's the best way to stay up to date with the ministry and you can get Pastor J.D. 's latest blog posts, and we'll also make sure that you never miss a new resource or series. Sign up today at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vitovich. Let me be the first to wish you a happy, happy new year. Be sure to join us again next week for the kickoff to not just a new year, but a brand new teaching series never before aired on Summit Life. We'll see you right back here Monday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer.
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