The Parable of the Talents

Jesus gave us what is known as the parable of the talents.  Matthew 25:14-30 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  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.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  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.’  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.  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.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Let us apply this parable to ourselves and learn from it.  The lord of the parable would be God or possibly Jesus.  You and I are His servants.  In the story, the talents were large amounts of money given to the servants based upon their ability.  You and I are also given many gifts from God.  James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” He gives to each of us as He sees fit.  You should not look at someone else and feel bad that He has given them more or be proud in what He has given you.  1 Corinthians 4:7 “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  Everything comes from God. He gives to us as He decides. 

Whether the gifts from God to you are large or small, you are expected to use them for His benefit and glory.  Consider the gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”  The gift of prophesy is to proclaim the truths of God; it may include seeing the shortcomings and proclaiming the necessity of repentance like the prophets of old. The next gift is ministry or service.  There are people today with the gift of service; they excel in service to others and they enjoy serving.  Then there is teaching.  Some people have the gift to teach others the principles and commands and truths of God in a way that is interesting and understandable.  Next, there are those who are exhorters.  They encourage others to be the people they need to be.  Next are the givers – those who see the needs of others and liberally give of what they have to meet the needs.  Next are the leaders; they are those who take charge and show the way to go.  Finally, there are the merciful.  They see the pain or weaknesses in other people’s lives and offer mercy and comfort.  Do you see yourself as a receiver of one of these gifts from God?   Or perhaps there is some other area in your life that God has given you an ability or resource that you can use in service to others and to Him.  Perhaps you think you have no ability or resources. If nothing else, you have been given the ability to pray to God on behalf of others. Whatever gift you have been given, don’t neglect to use your gift. 

The faithful servants were the ones who took what the lord gave them and made a profit for the Him.   They received praise from the master – “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  They received gracious promises and glory – “You were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”  If you use what God has given you for His profit, you also will be given praise, promises and glory.

The unfaithful servant was unthankful, idle, afraid, and misjudged his master. As a result, he was reproached – “You wicked and lazy servant.”  He was stripped of what he possessed and banished from the presence of the Lord – “Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” What have you received from the Lord? Are you useful to him according to your ability?

People of slender abilities may often do more good in the world than people of much greater talents. A humble Christian, by his life, example, and conversation, may often do much more good than is done by those in more elevated stations and with far greater gifts.  My encouragement is that you use whatever gifts God has given you for His glory.