Why Do the Rich Get Richer?

Have you ever gone to a yard sale or checked out one of the many online platforms for trading and selling used goods? Every time I open Ebay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or any number of similar sites, I can’t help but smile and think, “One person’s trash is another’s treasure.”

I had a similar reaction when I learned of three people who were particularly gifted at trading on Craigslist. Over a series of fourteen trades in two years, Steven Ortiz of Glendora, CA traded his friend’s old cell phone for a Porsche 2000 Boxster convertible. Rachel Dempsey of Madison, WI, turned an old Playstation 2 into a mint-condition 1986 IROC Z28 Camaro. Kyle MacDonald, a Canadian blogger, traded fourteen times from one red paperclip to a house. Check out Steven’s story here. These stories always make me wonder what I might have in a junk drawer or at the bottom of a closet and how many swaps it would take to get something of real value.

Many of us have something tucked away, but we fail to recognize its true value. And no, I’m not talking about an old cell phone, a Playstation 2 or even a paperclip. Many people have gifts that go unrecognized or undervalued because we don’t realize that God can turn our humble gifts into powerful tools to build the kingdom of heaven. As he told the story of the valuable coin, Jesus offered this difficult saying: “Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them.” If we apply this idea to the gifts that God has given us and the calling that God has placed on each of our lives, we realize that God values our gifts more than we can understand. Listen to the sermon, “Why Do the Rich Get Richer?”

In the familiar story of two faithful servants and their procrastinating partner, the value of the coins is extravagant. Read Matthew 25:14-30. So while the third servant focused on how little he had in comparison to his coworkers, he neglected the immense value of the coin in his possession. And here, Jesus is offering us an important lesson on the way the kingdom of heaven operates. Because this story is all about the work that servants are called to when the master is absent. We are called to respond faithfully to God’s gifts while we await Jesus’ return in glory.

This story has a great deal to offer us as we get to work building the kingdom, including a truth to teach and a role to fill.

  1. We don’t get to choose our gifts or keep our gifts. Everyone has gifts that are of value to God. Instead of focusing on the gifts that God has given to others, take stock of where God is at work in your life and where you can be a coworker with Christ. The third servant operated with a spirit of scarcity. Instead, imitate those who have been faithful and whose work bears fruit for the kingdom of heaven. Because we don’t get to keep our gifts. Rather than fearing making a mistake with the gift they were given, the first two servants put their gifts to use. And God celebrates even when we make mistakes, because they are opportunities to demonstrate grace.
  2. We have a role to fill. We are called to serve joyfully. The third servant fundamentally misunderstood his master by calling him a harsh man who unfairly profited off his servants. The valuable coin is not a seed that he can plant or an egg that he can sit on. Instead, when we use our gifts as individuals or as a church we will be taking risks. We cannot gain what we are unwilling to risk.

I guarantee that we as individuals and as a church will fail at least one, but the fear of failure should never keep us from doing God’s work. Do not fear failure. It is the beginning of growth.

Pastor Matt Potter