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Recently our bible study group studied the parable of the talents (). A man who is preparing to leave on a journey entrusts his possessions to his servants. He distributes his wealth among three servants, apportioned to them on the basis of their abilities. To the first he entrusted five talents (a Jewish measure of money), to the second two talents, and to the third one talent. The first two servants quickly set to work with their master’s money. The ones who received five and two talents invested the money and gained ten and four talents as a result. They ‘put the money to work’ and it yielded great gains. Out of fear, the third servant decided to play it safe and bury his talent. He didn’t want to risk losing the talent or facing his master’s wrath. However, in ‘playing it safe’ he didn’t yield any gain.
On his return, the master commended the faithfulness of the first two servants. To the third, he expressed his disgust at his lack of initiative and slothfulness.
God entrusts us with ‘spiritual talents’ to invest during our lives. He doesn’t give us these to bury and do nothing with. Although all Christians are charged with the responsibility to share the gospel, we are also given responsibilities according to our abilities ().
I find this part of the parable very intriguing.
Whilst God gives all Christians the gift of the Holy Spirit and the responsibility to love others as God has loved us, He clearly gives to and entrusts us according to His sovereign and unique plan for our lives (). In other words, God doesn’t give the same responsibilities and/or duties to all Christians, but rather different roles and jobs to fulfill. We are part of the one ‘spiritual body’, but like the parts of a human body, we all have different functions, whether they be great or small (). According to this parable, what is important to God is not so much the yield but our faithfulness. Do we invest what God has given us, or do we bury it out of fear and laziness?
I feel this parable poses a great encouragement and stern warning to all Christians.
We need to acknowledge that we don’t all have the same roles when it comes to living for God and serving others and the church. Whilst we are all to love and serve God, the church and others in our lives, we are entrusted with different gifts, abilities and passions to achieve this. Whatever it is, we are to be faithful with what God has entrusted us and to serve joyfully and zealously. When we do our part faithfully, God’s investment in us yields a greater outcome, whether we see it now or later in heaven.
Don’t allow people to guilt-ridden or coerce you into doing a particular work for God, but rather be faithful to do that which He has placed on your heart to do. Look at your abilities, search your heart/passions, look to Christ and serve accordingly. You may stumble along the way, but be encouraged, God is concerned with your attitude and faithfulness regardless the mistakes you make. The fact is God teaches us through our mistakes and, if we are willing, better equips us to serve Him as a result.
The flip-side is a stern warning against doing nothing. God did not send Jesus to die for our sins so that we can continue living as we used to, to be focused on ourselves all the time and not on Him or others. If we choose to reject God or not invest what God has given us, then we should expect to face His judgment accordingly.
There are consequences for the choices we make. Are you going to choose to faithfully trust in and serve Jesus, or are you going to dishonour Him by burying what He has given you?
We only have one life… let us wisely invest the ‘spiritual talents’ God has given us so that we may enjoy His blessings and be effective instruments for Him.
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘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.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘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.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 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? 27 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. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 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. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.