Welcome to the fourth part of our series on changing your lenses, your perspective of your circumstances, your identity in Christ, and of God Himself. And it is this last item – your perspective of God Himself – that we are going to focus on today. And this is probably going to be one of the most difficult discussions that we have ever had… not because it is difficult to study, but because for many of us (myself included) it requires us to take an honest and hard look at what we truly believe about God; and repenting (changing our mind) regrading our beliefs accordingly.

So join me today, as we have a tough, but necessary discussion regarding changing our lenses of God.

For this discussion today, we will be reading one of the parables of Jesus: the parable of the talents. This is a parable that highlights more than any other the topic of this discussion, because in this parable, we will come face-to-face with some truths regarding God that may very well expose some of our own misconceptions.

And we’ll be answering one specific question that a lot of people (including Christians) secretly have about God, and it was a question that I’ve had for most of my life as well: Is God a Jerk?

And I want to encourage you right from the start to not let that question scare you away, because regardless of how you may personally phrase the question, it is a question that many people have about God – again, including Christians; There are many people who secretly in the heart hold a perspective of God being mean, or unfair, or hard… and that can put up a wall that prevents the intimate union with God that we are supposed to have – more about that in a bit.

So, let’s begin by reading the parable in Matthew 25:14-30:

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods.

And to 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.

Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

But he that had received one went and dig in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.

After a long time the lord of those servants comes, and reckons with them.

And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.

He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed:

And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: see, there you have that is yours.

His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed:

You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with interest.

Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents.

For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has.

And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

You know, this parable is so often taught in a negative way that breeds fear, condemnation and resentment towards God, that it’s tragic.

When I was a child, I heard this parable taught like this:

“When God gives you a gift, no matter how small, make sure you make good use of it, or you will be punished, lose everything and eventually wind up in hell.”

This manner of preaching absolutely did breed fear and confusion into me when I was younger, because I was afraid that if I wasn’t making good use of something God gave me, even if I didn’t know what it was or how to use it, I was setting myself up for punishment. However this type of preaching misses the wonderful details of this parable, that actually shows a completely different picture of God than what I thought.

You see, a talent is a unit of measurement for Gold or Silver as mentioned in Exodus 38:24. It is equivalent to about 6,000 Roman denarii. One denarius is equal to a full days’ wage for a laborer; so upon doing the calculations, one talent (which is 6,000 denarii) is equal to roughly 15 years wages! So we can see that this is actually an enormous sum of money that was given to each of the three servants, even the third servant who only received one! The servant who received 5 talents, received 75 years wages; the servant who received 2 talents received 30 years wages; and the servant who received one talent that we generally think was short-changed, actually received 15 years wages. So this parable begins by actually showing us the extravagance and generosity of God.

So we can see here that God is generous.

Keep this fact in mind as we continue.

Now I want us to look at the third servant here in the story, because this tells us something very important regarding our lenses about God. Let’s look at verses 24-30 closely:

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed:

And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: see, there you have that is yours.

His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed:

You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with interest.

Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents.

For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has.

And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Take notice of the servant’s statement in verse 24, he says: Lord, I knew you to be a hard man…

This gives us insight into how his lenses of his master were actually skewed. Do you see it? This servant had warped lenses. He knew his master as a hard man. That’s how the servant thought of and saw his master. And this had the unfortunate effect of breeding fear in the heart of this servant regarding his master, and causing him to bury the large sum of money he was given instead of using and investing it.

Now, real talk… there are many people who have this exact same view regarding God. There are a vast number of believers who see God as a hard, demanding taskmaster; and it breeds the same fear as we see in this story. I had the same view of God as well! I also saw Him as hard and demanding… an object of fear, and someone never to draw close to because I was too afraid of how He might react.

I was afraid to move, make any choices, or basically do anything… because if it was the wrong thing, then He would be angry and punish me. And my friend, there are so many Christians who feel the exact same way about God. They pray endlessly for direction because they are in terror of making the wrong choice, because God is harsh in their view.

Now I’m not discounting asking God for direction – as your Father and Shepherd He can and will certainly provide guidance and wisdom for any situation and circumstance; in-fact it’s the mark of every good shepherd to lead His sheep, and the sign of every good father to guide his children and provide for them – and God is the best of both of those. And there is likewise value in waiting to have clear response from God – only a fool moves before the way is clear. So I’m not discrediting either of those things

What I am saying though, is that waiting forever is not an option – and is often used as a tool of the enemy to keep people paralyzed. I’ve watched people “wait for their healing” until they were dead. They thought that God was waiting for “the right time” to heal them – oh, it’s just not His timing yet…was their daily theme song. They saw God as a with-holder rather than the generous giver that we see in this parable. And there is not one single example throughout Jesus’ entire life of Him ever telling anyone that they need to wait for their healing. God is not the hard master that we imagine Him to be… He is not going to purposefully delay and prolong your suffering when Jesus already paid to give salvation to you as a free gift!

2nd Corinthians 6:1-2 says:

We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that you receive not the grace of God in vain.

For he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I helped you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

Salvation is the Greek σωτηρία (sōtēria), a broadly-defined word that includes health, safety, deliverance and prosperity

Verse 1 here says do not receive the Grace of God in vain! And sadly there are many who have! There are so very many people who believe that God is either unwilling or unable to help in the here-and-now, and that they are doomed to suffer through this life until they finally reach the “sweet by-and-by” up in heaven.

However here in verse 2 of 2nd Corinthians 6, we see that now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation!

Now is the time of healing and health,

now is the time of protection and deliverance,

Now is the day of provision and prosperity,

You won’t need any of that up in Heaven!

Hebrews 4:16 makes it absolutely clear:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Notice, my friend, that we should come boldly… not in fear, not in trepidation, not in some kind of religious false-humility… but boldly that is, with confidence – knowing who God is, knowing His divine love, His generous nature, and knowing who we are in Christ Jesus, as His children and part of His kingdom and family.

We should come boldly to the throne of Grace. Not to the throne of Moses, nor the throne of the Law; but to the throne of Grace in Christ. There, you will not find condemnation, you will not find the heavy burden of guilt and shame, and you will not be disappointed or let down; but you will obtain mercy, and find grace to help (not useless, ethereal grace, but grace to help) in time of need.

Do you see, my friend? This is for the here and now! Not relegated off to some unknown time in the future.

In the parable we read at the beginning, the third servant’s fate did not end well. He was rebuked by his master, had the money taken away, and was ultimately cast into hell.

The master was not angry with the servant for being afraid, but rather for not profiting from what was given to him.

Likewise today, we have been given much more than even a full talent of gold: we have been given Jesus Christ and the full riches of His Kingdom (Romans 8:32).

And as we also read today, we are advised to not receive the Grace of God in vain.

The servant received his money in vain, and because of a wrong fearful view of his master, never allowed the gift to profit him. And there are countless Christians today, walking around in absolutely defeat and spiritual bankruptcy because they believe they have nothing… except an IOU to to be redeemed at an unknown time in the future.

What we have seen today proves that is not true.

My friend, I encourage you today… change your lenses about God. Change your lenses about yourself, and about what you have in Christ Jesus.

If you want to know more about how to live in your new identity, check out the many resources here on this website, and send me a message if you have any questions. All of this exists for you.

I pray that this study today, and the entire series about changing your lenses has encouraged and empowered you.

Be blessed.

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