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Bible study: Rewards of grace

The parable of the talents appears in a section of Scripture where Jesus is describing the end times. Though an exact value of a talent is difficult to calculate with certainty, a talent was a huge amount of money equaling 15 to 20 years of wages. The man entrusts his servants with these talents in varying degrees and then went away. When he returned, he had them give an accounting of what they did with his money.

Jesus has given us gifts and wants us to manage them well until his return. It is from this parable that we get our use of the word talent to mean “an ability.” Another way to look at the talents is to consider them as responsibilities.

To some, Jesus entrusts few talents and responsibilities, like being a child or a student. To others, he gives more, like spouses and parents. To still others, he entrusts great talents and responsibilities to use in his kingdom.

Read Matthew 25:14-30 with this definition in mind.

List the talents or responsibilities Jesus has given you to manage. (It’s humbling, isn’t it?)
Answers will vary. It is not just the talents and responsibilities we have in operation of the church, but also those which we have in our families and in our employment.

Read Matthew 25:34-36.
What will Jesus’ verdict for faithful believers be when he returns?
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” By his grace Jesus welcomes us into heaven. We are forgiven for all the faults and failures because of Jesus (1 John 1:7). What Jesus remembers is that we are his dear children who have been given the privilege of living as his children here in this life.

Rewards for now and for eternity

Based on the opening activity, perhaps you realize why these are rewards of grace. On our own, we don’t deserve to have Jesus look at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.” However, because Jesus has washed us clean with his blood along with every impurity in our management of his gifts he entrusts to us, that is precisely what he’ll say: “Well done!”

But we do not need to wait until the Last Day to experience these rewards. He blesses us richly with them even now!

Read 1 Corinthians 3:8; Galatians 6:9; and 1 Timothy 4:8-10.

How do you see Jesus reward you even in this life for doing his will?
1 Corinthians 3:8. Some plant; others water. We are all “co-workers in God’s service.” Not everyone does the same thing and yet whatever they do they will “be rewarded according to their own labor.”

Galatians 6:9. Those who labor in the ministry of the gospel receive the thankful offerings of those who experience the benefit of their hard work.

1 Timothy 4:8-10. We work hard at the tasks the Lord gives us. Notice that “godliness” comes with rewards here in this life. It demonstrates that we are disciples of Jesus who will inherit eternal life.

Unearned rewards

Unearned rewards seem totally contrary to how the world operates. In our world, when you work hard for something, you should be rewarded for that hard work. If someone is rewarded for someone else’s work, people will cry, “That’s unfair!” In a way, though, this is precisely how God’s kingdom works. He gives us faith, abilities, responsibilities, opportunities, energy, and will. And yet we get the reward!

Read 1 Peter 2:9-12.

In what ways is it comforting that these rewards are unearned?
They must be unearned because nothing we can do could ever earn such blessings.

In what ways does this section of Scripture inspire you to use the responsibilities God has given you?
Answers will vary because everyone has different gifts and responsibilities. But no matter what those gifts and responsibilities we should remember, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 10
Issue: October 2021

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This entry is part 39 of 63 in the series bible-study

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