I have always been intrigued by the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. I always felt that I missed something important in that story, especially because the penalty for the man who did nothing was so severe.
In this story a man was going on a journey to a far country, and he called his servants and gave his goods to them. He knew their abilities very well, and distributed to them according to their individual abilities:
And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Matthew 25:15
He gave them no instructions about what to do with his goods, but the servant who received five talents (read money) went and traded with what was given to him, and doubled his masters money. The other servant, who received two talents, did the same, and gained two more talents for his master. These two servants obviously loved their master and used some initiative to bless him. Lastly, the servant who received only one talent buried his master’s money to keep it safe. He did not have the same relationship with his master as his two colleagues.
When the master returned, he called his servants to give account of what he had delivered to them, starting with the one who received five talents:
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides 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 into the joy of your lord.’ Matthew 25:21-23
Last of all, the servant who received one talent came to give account, gladly returning what was given to him to his master:
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. Matthew 25:21-28
This servant’s excuse for not doing anything with what was entrusted to him, was not good enough for his master, and what he had was taken away from him.
For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. Matthew 25:29
The verse above adds a twist to the story. All three these servants had some ability, even the one who received only one talent, and they were all held accountable in proportion to what was given to them. The master gave no instructions to anyone of them, yet the first two took some initiative, and did something with their master’s money, while the last one did nothing.
The only difference between the first two and the last one, is their initiative—or the lack thereof—to increase their master’s talents.
I found the following definitions for initiative: energy, or aptitude displayed in initiation of action; enterprise; a new plan or process to achieve something or solve a problem.
Jesus is the Master who went away to the Father, and He gave each one of us some skills, talents and opportunities. We can—and should— use them for our own benefit: by putting those abilities to use, we earn provision for ourselves. This is how our good Father equipped us with a way to sustain ourselves, and find fulfillment in life. It is hard to work in employment that don’t align with your gifts and talents, but using your personal equipment makes it a joy to work.
Nobody came to earth without some ability, and there may be some challenges to find the right environment to put your talents to work, but that is part of life in a broken world. The more you develop them though, the more they grow in quality, which increases the demand for what you have to offer.
However, it is the eternal aspect of this story that should not be forgotten, as a day will come when He will hold you accountable for what has been entrusted to you. Jesus Himself told us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), and it comes with a promise that God will see to our material needs while doing so. This changes the perspective somewhat as your gifts and talents must benefit God’s kingdom. You cannot live selfishly on earth, and then expect a good eternal reward.
God blessed us all with various capabilities and opportunities that come our way, making us stewards of what He has entrusted to us. A steward is always accountable to his master, and is required to give account of how he handle his stewardship, when asked to do so.
A day will come, maybe sooner than we think, when we will be called to give account of how we served the Lord on earth. There will be a day of judgment of God’s people, although not a judgment for sin, but rather to asses our stewardship of what has been entrusted to us. Rewards will be handed out to those who were mindful of the Master during their lives on earth:
And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Revelation 22:12
The words of Jesus, “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” is the greatest reward you can ever receive from anyone. No reward on earth can compete with it! Let us therefore, while we have time, use our talents, gifts, and opportunities to serve Him, and do what our hand finds to do for Him. Time is running out, soon it will be impossible to do anything for Him here on earth.
See what you can do, use some initiative and do something to populate God’s kingdom with souls that need to be rescued. Tell your story, witness, pray, encourage, give–do something while you can!
We will work for Jesus, we are not our own
Jesus, we can never idle be;
Souls around us dying, purchased for Thy throne,
We will gather all we can for Thee.
Daniel Sydney Warner, 1842-1895
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