“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” (verses 14-18)
The context, once again, is the certainty of the second coming. But the question is: how do we live right now?
In Jesus’ parable, a man is going on a journey and calls together his servants to watch over his property while he is gone. He gives each one a specific amount of money, allotted in “talents,” which was a weight measurement (58-80 pounds) applied to gold, silver, or copper, likely being equivalent to about six thousand denarii. Since one denarius was worth one day’s wage, and since the typical labourer worked 300 days per year, one talent would be the equivalent of 20 years’ wages. Not an insignificant amount!
Each of these three servants, therefore, is given a weighty responsibility. The first is given five talents, the second two talents, and the third one talent. The story reports no further instruction being given to the servants regarding the handling of these resources, but the third servant clearly understands that the master expects to receive back more than he has given (verse 24) – the money is meant to earn a good return.
When the master returns home to settle accounts, the first two servants have doubled their resources. “Well done, good and faithful servant,” the master says warmly to each. But the third servant simply buried his resources, and therefore can only give back the exact amount he had initially received. The master responds with anger, taking away what the servant has in his hands, and throwing him out into the outer darkness.
The story obviously applies to us here and now. In light of Jesus’ guaranteed return, how are we to live? Several things stand out:
(1) The amounts of money given to these servants are huge. One has more, one has less, but regardless, the amounts for each are weighty. So, too, with us – what the Lord has entrusted to each one is hugely significant.
(2) Each servant receives resources “according to his ability.”There is no sense of “better” or “worse” attached to this, but simply a clear-sighted evaluation by the master. The one with less ability doesn’t feel the weight of too much responsibility, nor does the one with greater ability get a free ride. Each has equal responsibility and equal opportunity to engage. We’re not to spend our energies in envy or rivalry regarding others – rather, we trust the Lord’s wisdom, gratefully receiving what he has entrusted to us.
(3) Both the first and the second servants immediately get to work. They waste no time. They put their resources to work “at once.” There is an immediacy and urgency to our kingdom work, too.
(4) The third servant was paralyzed by fear. He knew the master expected him to multiply his resources, but says, “I was afraid” – so he buried the talent in the ground. Don’t be like that servant – that’s the message to us.
(5) The master’s anger isn’t a result of the servant’s fear and risk-averse nature. He would have been happy if the servant had simply, but cautiously, put the money on deposit with the bankers. The master’s anger results from the servant doing nothing at all. It’s a cautionary tale – don’t follow that servant’s example.
So, consider what the Lord has entrusted to you. He knows who you are and has specifically given you what he himself has deemed right. Weigh it. Use it. Engage for the kingdom. And look forward with joy to that day of putting the results back into your Lord’s hands.
Lord Jesus, I thank you for what you have entrusted to me. I choose to use it for your glory. Strengthen me by your Spirit to use it well.
Reflect: What resources has the Lord put into your hands? How are you using them? Will he be pleased?