Last week Jesus taught us and the disciples the importance of being prepared for His return. Tonight we will read verses 14-30 of Matthew 25, where Jesus teaches the responsibility of using the talents that God gave us for the glory of His kingdom.
Verses 14-19 set up the parable. Jesus tells the story of a man who traveled to a far place, then gave three of his servants unique numbers of “talents,” each according to the servants’ abilities. The word “talent” is a denomination of money in the parable, and the meaning of the parable itself has to do with the talents we are given, which makes it an apt use of the word. One of the servants received five talents, one received two, and the last servant received one talent. After the talents were given to the servants, the man left again. The servants that received five and three talents each doubled their talents via trade, but the servant that received a single talent simply buried it. After a period of time, the man returned and sought to get his “talents” back and anything else they may have earned in the interim.
Verses 20-30 bear the meaning of the parable. The servants that doubled their talents are rewarded by being made rulers over much, while the servant that merely hid his talent gives excuses for why he did not increase it and ultimately had his talent taken away and given to the servant that had ten talents.
Let’s talk about the one-talent servant’s reasons for not increasing his talent. He says in verse 24, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.” The servants’ master surely is powerful, and the servant has need to fear his master, but these reasons are not legitimate. The servant has an opinion that his master expects too much of him. The servant also seems to think little of his master’s character through the explanation he provides. In verse 26, the master calls this servant wicked and lazy, which is fitting when we consider the integrity of the reasoning for him not increasing his talent. It falls like a house of cards when inspected. Because of his lack of faith and service, this wicked and lazy servant is cast into outer darkness where there is sorrow and pain. Instead of trying to find a way around or out of using his talents for his master, the servant would have been much better off if he would have simply gained interest by putting his talents in the bank.
The talents in this parable represent the unique and individual abilities we are each blessed with as children of God. They can be the ability to teach, give, share, comfort, fight or provide. Our talents can manifest as actual talents and abilities or material blessings. God has given each of us unique talents that He wants us to use to His glory. Some of us are given more than others, but as long as we use them to the glory of God, we can have confidence in the fact that He will reward us, making us rulers in heaven.
Our goal as followers of Christ needs to be like that of the five-talent man and the two-talent man: to increase. If I can teach others well, I ought to teach others. If I can listen well and be a supportive friend to many, I need to be there for those I can be. If I am blessed materially, I need to give to others. If I have the gift of encouraging others, I need to build up the people in my life. It is the same scenario with consolation, intellection, fellowship, leadership, mercy, forgiveness and any number of other positive methods we can use to help bring others closer to Christ.
What are your talents? How are you using them?
“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17