In Matthew 24 Jesus tells his disciples that the temple in Jerusalem will be utterly destroyed. This gets them thinking of them thinking in terms of the end of the world, and so they ask Jesus when these things will happen and what will the signs be. Jesus proceeds over the next two chapters to tell them the signs of his second coming, and the end of the world. He also gives them warnings to be prepared when he returns so that he find them having been faithful servants. This passage of Matthew 25:14-30 falls into the category of a warning, and a hard warning it is.
“”For it 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, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 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 those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five 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.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have 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.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather 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.’”
In this parable, Jesus is the Master, and we are the servants. When we take this view of things the parable comes into sharp focus for us.
They All Have Been Given Great Resources
The first thing we should know about the three servants in this parable is that even one talent is a large sum of wealth. One talent was equal to 20 years wages for a day laborer, and its weight in gold today would be worth $1.4 Million. So while the servant that was given 5 talents was given a great deal, it does not diminish at all the great resources that the servant with the one talent was given. He was still entrusted with a great deal by his master.
We too have been given great resources by our Master. He has created us in His image, and He has shaped each of us to be integral part of His body without which it can not function correctly. On top of this, He has given us all spiritual gifts that we might build His kingdom. He has blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms according to Paul in Ephesians 1. He has promised to hear our prayers and answer them as John 14-17 makes clear. He promises to do this because He loves us, and because we have believed in Jesus. He has lavished all of us with other worldly wealth that we can hardly imagine. All so that He may be glorified, and His kingdom might be advanced. Hold that thought.
Risk Had To Be Taken To Gain
The Scriptures say the first two servants immediately went out began to trade with what they had been given, and they were able to double the value of what they had been entrusted with. If you have ever engaged in trading, you know that it is inherently risky. Your trade may not work out right. You may give what you have away because you think the thing you are getting is of greater worth, but others may not feel the same. You may be stuck with something that is worth less than what you started with.
Now the Master expected them to take their talents that they had been entrusted with and work hard to increase them by taking risks, but he did not expect them to take foolish risks. He expected them to use their wisdom and skill to increase what they had been given.
So we too are expected to take great risks for our Father’s kingdom. We must be willing for things to not go our way, and for we ourselves to look foolish to the outside world. We must take risk with the resources he has been given, and we must do it with wisdom and skill that he has bestowed upon us. For some of us this might mean putting our very lives at stake in a harsh missionary environment. For some us that might mean we spend years or our lives toiling among a hard, godless culture. For most of us this will mean risking our relationships with others by calling them to believe the Gospel, and lead lives of holiness.
They Were Not Working For Their Own Benefit
All of these servants, while they had been entrusted with great resources, did not forget whose resources they were. They did not forget who they would have to answer to when He returned. They knew all their effort and all their striving was for him, and not ultimately for themselves. Of course they knew that they served a good Master, and that as he prospered and as his wealth and kingdom expanded they would be reward for being faithful servants. But they never for a minute thought that the resources were their own to be used for their own benefit. They were to be used for his benefit, and his alone.
The same is true for us. They Father has given us all great resources, and is prepared to give us even more as we ask. However, we must never get confused to think they were given to us for our own comfort, or pleasure. They have been given to us so that we might expand His kingdom, and his glory.
Will their be reward for us while we work for our Master to expand his Kingdom? Of course! We serve a great, kind and generous master who loves to give us great gifts! But we should never think he gives us the resources that we have so that we might expand our own kingdom. We are called to labor for His Kingdom alone, and for His Glory.
Wasted Talents Questions Your allegiance to the Master
This is the hard part of the parable. The third servant who was only give one talent. He fears his master. The servant correctly sees the Master for who He is, but makes the wrong application of the that truth. He knows that the Master expects him to put the resources he has been given to good use and to increase the Master’s Kingdom. However, The servant becomes fearful, and does nothing!
He does nothing with the resources that he has been entrusted with, and while the master is away in effect lives off of the hard won resources by other servants. He takes the Masters resources essentially as if they were his own, lives off the work of others, and expects his Master to be okay we receiving no return on what has been entrusted to him. He has not expanded the Master’s Kingdom. While the master has been away he has lived a life that is totally devoted to himself.
The Master reaction is swift, and he takes the resources he has given from him and gives to the one who has shown he knows how to expand the Master’s kingdom. This fearful, self-consumed servant was then thrown out of the household.
We must take this warning to heart, and look at our own conduct because what we do with the resource the Father has given us says a lot about our hearts. Do we realize the great resources He has given us? Do we realize that He expects us to put those to use to expand His kingdom? Do we realize that he wants us to not play it safe?