Lesson 8August 17-23

Serving the Master

Read for This Weeks Study:  Matt. 25:14-30 ; Luke 16:1-9

Memory Text:   "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ"  (Colossians 3:23, 24, NKJV).

Key Thought:   Part of being transformed by Christ and growing in grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit means that we will become active members of society, attracting others to the Saviour as we use our talents and gifts in service to the world.



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WHAT ARE YOU DOING? During one summer, a pastor visited a woman who had a magnificent collection of rose bushes. She took him out into her yard to see them--white roses, red roses, yellow roses, climbing roses. She had every species he had heard of and a great many he had never heard of.

The woman began plucking roses right and left. Even when a bush had only one rose on it, she picked it. The pastor remonstrated, "You are robbing yourself, dear lady; you are spoiling your rose bushes."

"Ah," she said, don't you know that the way to make the rosebush flourish is to pluck its flowers freely? I lose nothing by what I give away."

This is a universal law. We don't lose by giving; we increase our capacity to give.

This week in our study of Christian growth, we will discuss the stewardship of our lives as God's children. We will examine, among other things, the purpose and results of such stewardship.

SundayAugust 17

THE MASTER (Matt. 25:14-30).

When did Jesus tell His disciples the parable of the talents, and why? Matt. 24:3, 42.

"Christ on the Mount of Olives had spoken to His disciples of His second advent to the world. He had specified certain signs that were to show when His coming was near, and had bidden His disciples watch and be ready. . . . Then He showed what it means to watch for His coming. The time is to be spent, not in idle waiting, but in diligent working. This lesson He taught in the parable of the talents." --Christ's Object Lessons, p. 325.

Christ was telling His disciples that soon He would be going back to heaven. But while they were waiting for Him to return, they were to continue their work on His behalf.

In the parable, the master gave a different amount of talents to each servant (Matt. 25:14, 15). What about the Christian life does this symbolize? Does it mean that God "plays favorites"?

What if God had made only one type of flower, one species of animal, one source of light? How interesting or practical would this world be if we were all the same?

God values variety for its beauty, as well as for its usefulness. Some of us are architects. We know how to draw plans for a church. Some of us are skilled craftspersons. We turn the blueprints into wood and stone. Others come along to fill the finished structure with word and song. The janitor, the painter, the gardener who brings flowers, and many with other talents--all the gifts of all the church members are needed! There is only one common element: God has given all of us at least one gift necessary to both the growth and maintenance of His church.

The master's reaction to what each of his servants did with the talents assures us that God is indeed impartial. When the master returned, he did not condemn the man who had only two talents for still having fewer talents than the servant who started out with five. Instead, he congratulated them both for being faithful. Notice also that the reward he gave each was the same (Matt. 25:21, 23). Likewise, God does not view us merely in light of what we can do, but whether or not we do what we can.

How can God's impartiality help you to view others you think are more talented than you? How can it help you to use faithfully the talent or talents God has given you?

MondayAugust 18

THE SERVANTS (Matt. 25:14-30).

Yesterday in our study of the parable of the talents, we concentrated on the master. Today we will take a closer look at the three servants.

What can you conclude about each servant's relationship with the master? Matt. 25:20, 22, 24, 25. How did their relationship affect their behavior? Matt. 25:16-18.

Our relationship with Jesus is the essence of our Christian service. We can be effective servants only as we trust Him to (1) forgive us of our sins and (2) empower us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to display His love and concern for other people.

The servant with one talent did not view his master as a "hard man" because the master truly was such, but because the servant did not truly know the master. The servant was motivated not by a desire to serve well or to please his master, but by his fear of failure (Matt. 25:25). Such fear paralyzes us from doing our best. Indeed, as we learn from the parable, it prevents us from even trying.

Contrast the third servant's attitude with David's words in Psalm 119:76, 77: "May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight" (NIV). When the Word lives in our hearts (Ps. 119:11; John 1:1, 9, 12, 13), service on His behalf becomes a pleasure. Any fear of failure will evaporate along with concern for the number of talents God has given us.

If you had been the third servant, how would you have felt about receiving only one talent?

"However small your talent, God has a place for it. That one talent, wisely used, will accomplish its appointed work. By faithfulness in little duties, we are to work on the plan of addition, and God will work for us on the plan of multiplication. These littles will become the most precious influences in His work.

"Let a living faith run like threads of gold through the performance of even the smallest duties. Then all the daily work will promote Christian growth."--Christ's Object Lessons, p. 360.

How does your relationship with God affect your attitude toward what you do? How can you faithfully improve the talent or talents God has given you?

TuesdayAugust 19

THE TALENTS (Matt. 25:14-30).

The master, the servants, the talents. Christ, ourselves, and the abilities God has given each one of us that we are to use in service for Him. So far this week, we have concentrated on the characters in the parable of the talents. Today we will discuss the talents themselves.

The term talent first referred to a unit of weight, then to a unit of coinage. Modern use of the term to indicate an ability or gift stems from the parable.

Below is a list of talents or gifts. Describe how each might be used for the growth and maintenance of God's church. Can you think of others?

intellectual abilities
organizational skills

Influence "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."--Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 339, 340.

What does the parable of the talents tell us about the relationship between the use of our talents and Christian growth?

Do you think of yourself as a five-talent person, a two-talent person, or a one-talent person? Explain.

How can you put to better use the talents God has given you?

WednesdayAugust 20


We read of people "subordinating the eternal to the temporal, the claims of the future to the affairs of the present"; people "mistaking phantoms for realities, and realities for phantoms"; refusing to view the unseen world by faith while greedily viewing "the things of this life as all-attractive and all-absorbing." (See Christ's Object Lessons, p. 366.) Do you know people like this? The next parable we will discuss tells how the attitudes of such people affect the stewardship of their lives on Christ's behalf. We will meet a dishonest manager who abused his position and defrauded his employer, and hopefully learn a lesson from his behavior that will help us concentrate on things that draw us closer to our Saviour.

To whom did Jesus address this parable, and why? Luke 16:1, 14.

Jesus presented this parable "directly to the disciples."--Christ's Object Lessons, p. 368. It was a few months before the end of His earthly ministry. As the grip of His "last-day events" took hold upon the disciples, they would need to remember that their devotion to Him must be single-minded. When Jesus spoke the words in verse 13, perhaps He even had in mind the disciple who would betray his Master to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver--the price of a slave.

"The master commended the dishonest manager" (Luke 16:8, NIV). It "is apparent that Jesus found in the rich man's commendation of his steward something useful in teaching a lesson to the disciples and to the listening audience. . . . The cleverness with which this scheming rascal brought his career of misconduct to a climax was so amazing, and the thoroughness with which he carried out his plan so worthy of more noble objectives, that the rich man could not help admiring his steward's sharpness and diligence."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 826.

Compare the unfaithful manager with the one-talent servant in Matthew 25:14-30. Which "masters" did they serve? What effect does each of these "masters" have on one's service for the Lord?

In these last days, what prevents you from working single mindedly for Christ? List some things you can do to concentrate more on Christ and His service.

ThursdayAugust 21


Yesterday we began discussing the parable of the unfaithful manager. Below, list the four lessons this parable teaches. How does each lesson relate to the stewardship of our lives as growing Christians?

Verse 8
Verse 9
Verses 10, 11
Verse 13

"Use worldly wealth to gain friends" Luke 16:9, NIV. "We are to use the material things entrusted to us to advance the interests of our Father in heaven, by applying them to the needs of our fellow men (Prov. 19:17; Matt. 19:21; 25:31-46; Luke 12:33) and to the advancement of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:13; 2 Cor. 9:6, 7)."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, . 827.

Faithfulness in small matters. People, cities, countries enjoy boasting about their best features, their largest building, their most powerful weapon of destruction, etc. But this parable tells us what greatness really is. It is "not the size of the means, but the intensity of the need to which it ministers. A lantern of itself is a small affair, but not when it shines to mark a harbor for some lost ship. A cup of cold water is almost trivial, but not to a man dying of thirst in a desert. What makes greatness? Not the measure of man's body or even of his mind, but his willingness to work in double yoke with Jesus."--The Interpreter's Bible, vol. 8, p. 285.

Which of the four lessons above are the most meaningful to you at this point in your life?

How can you use material possessions to advance the gospel?

What small thing can you do for someone today that would make a great difference in that person's life?

FridayAugust 22

FURTHER STUDY: Think about the following people in the Bible. What gift or talent did each one receive from God? What was the outcome of their use or abuse of that gift or talent? What does that outcome teach us about stewardship and the growth of the Christian life? Dorcas (Acts 9:36-43); Mary, the sister of Lazarus (John 12:1-8); Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11); Joseph (Gen. 39-41).

Read one or both of the following chapters from Christ's Object Lessons: "Talents," pp. 325-365; "Friends by the Mammon of Unrighteousness," pp. 366-375.

"Whether we recognize it or not, we are stewards, supplied from God with talents and facilities, and placed in the world to do a work appointed by Him.

"To every man is given 'his work' (Mark 13:34), the work for which his capabilities adapt him, the work which will result in greatest good to himself and to his fellow men, and in greatest honor to God.

"Thus our business or calling is a part of God's great plan, and, so long as it is conducted in accordance with His will, He Himself is responsible for the results. . . . Thus there is no place for anxious care."--Education, pp. 137, 138.


1. What specific gifts has God given the Seventh-day Adventist in particular? What Is the corporate role in using these gifts for the advancement of the gospel and service to humanity? What is the individual church member's role?

2. After studying this lesson, do you think that faithful stewardship regarding one's talents and gifts is essential to Christian growth? Why?

3. List the talents and gifts possessed by each member of your Sabbath School class. Discuss ways in which your class as a unit can use these gifts in service for God. Then carefully plan to put at least one of these ways into action.

SUMMARY: As Jesus' followers, under His direction, become faithful stewards of their gifts and talents, they will attract others to Him. Thus the church as a unit and members as individuals will grow stronger in the Christian graces.

Allah Answers

Riccardo Orsucci

Yaheya Nomao (YAY-ee-yah No-MAH-o) was a Muslim hired to help with an ADRA literacy program set up among the Touareg people, wandering nomads who live in the southern portions of the Sahara Desert in West Africa. As a conscientious Muslim, he had many questions about religion. Yaheya prayed to Allah, the Creator God of Islam, to show the way to full salvation. Yaheya searched for answers inside and outside his Muslim faith. He visited several Christian churches, but he was not satisfied. Then a friend introduced him to Zacharie, a young Muslim man who now worshiped the Christian God and had returned to his home-town to preach.

Yaheya and another friend, Alio (All-lee~oh) soon began studying eternal truths with Zacharie. After many weeks of Bible study, the men were convinced that Allah had answered their prayers and had directed them to Zacharie.

Yaheya and Alio began to share with others what God had done for them. In time, Zacharie invited a pastor to travel to Tahoua and conduct a stop-smoking plan and a short evangelistic program. In the past, evangelical pastors had encountered fierce opposition from the Islamic community. But the villagers had heard Yaheya and Alio's testimony, and more than 300 persons attended the meetings. The pastor used the Taurat, the Muslim equivalent to the first five books of the Bible, to present basic Christian truths. Presentations were made on areas of Christian living that Adventists and Muslims have in common. More than 100 young people stayed for the question and answer period each night.

Yaheya and Alio committed their lives to Christ and were baptized, the first Adventists in this area of Muslim-dominated Niger. AIo is preparing to teach. When he finishes, he will return to lead the literacy program in his home area and become a lay evangelist to his own people. Yaheya has built a small straw hut in his yard where he holds Bible studies and witnesses to his family and friends.

Pray for Yaheya and Alio, true pioneer missionaries among their people. Thousands like Yaheya and Alio are praying to "Allah" for a knowledge of the true "Way, the Truth, and the Life." And pray for the desert people of West Africa who, for the first time, have an opportunity to hear the everlasting gospel.

Riccardo Orsucci is ADRA Director for the Sahel Union in West Africa.

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