January 29, 2014.
I was supposed to give a lesson tonight at church, however, due to the icy roads here, we have decided it too dangerous to hold service. In light of this fact, I have decided to give a brief synopsis of what I was going to say (and what I will talk about next week, Lord willing) here.
In Matthew 25, you will find three parables of the kingdom and judgement. The second is what we refer to as the parable of the talents.
“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…”
I think there are five points that can be drawn from this parable that perhaps are not often drawn. Maybe they are subtle, but I think they are no less important. Read the parable first (verses 14-30) and then consider these points.
1. God gives us our talents.
Sometimes, or even often rather, we delight in our own abilities forgetting that everything we have and everything we can do comes from God. The story starts out “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one…” God has entrusted us with the talents he has given us, they were not developed solely on our own. We may work to hone these talents, but even that ability is given by God. It is simply our choice to use them or not.
2. There was no “Zero Talent” man.
This is indeed a subtle lesson, but the master did not leave any of the servants in the story with nothing. We have all been given some talent that God expects us to use for his kingdom, no matter how miniscule we might think it is. Paul relates to this in his first Corinthian letter:
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
(1 Cor. 12:4-7)
Paul goes on to say that the members of the body that we think less of are even more important. Don’t sell yourself short– God has given you an ability he wants you to use for his kingdom! Find it, practice it, do it.
3. The call for immediate action.
“He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.”
The two servants that actually used the talents of their master did so immediately. There was no lolligagging, no waiting around for the right time, no time wasted. They went out and did what they needed to. I believe that this is a good lesson for us today. Our work is now, not later. We are called to minister to a lost and dying world, and tomorrow may be too late. Will you join forces today and work for the kingdom? There is no better time than the present, if I may be a bit cliché.
4. The five talent man and the two talent man were the same.
Both of these men received the same answer from their master when he returned “‘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.’” God gives us each according to our own ability, and then judges us based solely on our ability, not the accomplishments of others. Again, 1 Corienthians 12 deals heavily with this. This concept could be both relieving and alarming at the same time. On one hand, we don’t all have to reach the great heights of famous warriors in the kingdom. They were given the talents to do what they do, and perhaps we weren’t. We don’t all have to be missionaries overseas, television evangelists or hold a Ph.D. in biblical Hebrew and Greek. However, on the other hand, we do have to use what we have been given. We each have a potential based on what talents we have been given; and like the one talent man, if we don’t strive to reach our potential, we will suffer the same fate. We don’t ever want to here his answer from the master:
“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.’”
5. The master went away for a long time, leaving his servants in charge.
We are responsible for the kingdom now while the master is away. He has given it into our hands and expects us to carry out the work. Sometimes, I think we as Christians in America like to shed responsibility. “That’s the preacher’s job. That only applies to the elders. Missionaries are taking care of that.” I do not believe that this is the case. Just as we are each given talents, we each are given responsibilities. These responsibilities are ours to carry out, with the help of the brotherhood. We should keep this in mind when we are thinking about the work of the church. Christ has ascended for the time being, but rest assured, he will come back. Will he find us waiting?
Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 25, Luke 12, 19, 1 Corinthians 12.
Let us all work together in the vineyard of the Lord.