I’ve been pondering Matthew 25 today. Specifically, I have been dissecting the parable of the talents. It’s an interesting story to me –
Basically this boss is going on a trip. Before he leaves he bestows his servants with a portion of his wealth. The first guy he gives a considerably large amount, five bags of gold (in the Message). The second guy he gives a moderate amount, three bags of gold, and the third guy gets the least, one bag of gold, which in the scope of things is still more than he would have had. The master goes away and leaves them to their business. After a while, he comes back to find what his servants have done with what he gave them.
The first guy, the one that was given the most, comes and proudly shows the master what he has earned…he’s doubled the investment! The master is thrilled and says that he will be given more and he is welcome to join in the happiness! The second guy also cheerfully hands over his doubling, and the master again rejoices and tells him he will give him more, and he’s also welcomed to join. Finally we come to the last guy, the one who was given the smallest amount, and here is where I want to sit awhile because a lot is found in this account.
I want to look at the character of the man. This is where the reaction of the master lies, I believe. The master turns to the third man and asks, “And what have you to give?” The guy goes immediately on the defensive. “Well, first of all, ALL you gave me was one bag of gold.” The insinuation here is, “You didn’t give me much to work with.” But, his audacity doesn’t end there; he continues, “And I know that you are a mean and hard man and that you aren’t fair in your dealings, so I was afraid.” Can you imagine the master’s formerly understanding face by that point?! But he continues, he finishes digging his grave by telling the “hard unyielding” master that because of that fear, he dug a hole and buried what he had, and probably with a smug look, the fool hands him back the bag of gold. The tone of the master completely changes. He is described as “Furious!” (Well, wouldn’t you be?) He looks at the guy and says, “Are you that foolish and lazy?! If I WERE such a master as you’ve believed, to do the unfair things of which you’ve accused me, at the very least you could have taken this gold to the bank and at least returned it to me with interest! But you were lazy and you were foolish and you have no part in my Kingdom!” Ouch.
Do you wonder what Servant 1 and Servant 2 are thinking as they over hear this? I do, because, we get a glimpse of their character, too. The first guy was excited about two things: he was grateful for the money, and he eagerly went out and invested it. The second guy, though given less, is just as excited and eager. They didn’t seem to bicker over what each of them had; they simply and eagerly took what they were given and put it to work – not for themselves, but for the master. There was never a doubt as to who was going to receive the reward from that investment. They know the master is coming back. They know they have been entrusted with his wealth, and they know that whatever comes of it belongs to him when he returns. They never question his character or his motives. They don’t try to make him out to be “unyielding or hard.” You get the idea that they want to please him. They are grateful for what they have been given, and they want him to see that they are good servants. And, He does.
The correlation with this story Jesus tells us is that this is a picture of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is telling this story to His disciples in an attempt to get them to understand what is coming and what is expected. This is where we come in. This is a lesson for all of us, and today, this is what I am learning.
First of all, the amounts given weren’t the issue. The man with five and the man with three bags of gold were given the same reward. Secondly, we all know that the master is The Master…this is Jesus. He is gone on a journey, but He will be back. (Please try not to picture him on a motorcycle with shades and a Swartzenegger accent as you read that.) And finally, we, like the servants, have all been entrusted with His wealth, and we will be held accountable for what we do with it.
Now, let’s look at this parable in today’s terms. Upon Jesus’ departure He left us the Holy Spirit Who gives us gifts. Jesus tells us that these “gifts” are the Father’s that are imparted to us. Our gifts vary, as do their quantities, but each of us is left with something. These gifts are to be shared and extended, multiplying the Kingdom of Heaven, increasing the Master’s wealth. Let’s look at the two servants that are rewarded. What did it take? First of all, they received the gift and happily put it to use. This would be like the children of God that have multiple gifts of the Spirit. They eagerly use these gifts, doing good, and sharing the abundance and encouraging others to do the same. They enjoy the gift and don’t fear the outcome, fully trusting that He Who entrusted it will bless it. This is a beautiful picture of how God wants us to use what we’ve been given – freely, selflessly, eagerly, fearlessly.
The next picture we get is of the “lazy and foolish” servant. This is the child of God that is fearful and skeptical. This is the child of God that fears not only the Father and what He might require of them, but this child also fears the gifting. Perhaps he or she questions the worth of what they have. Perhaps they look around at others and think, “Look what all they have, and all I have is this. I can never do that. So I will do nothing.” Fearfully, they bury that gift, saving it for themselves to eek out the smallest bit of favor from God. In the end, they will find just like the servant did, that there is no reward. God wants us to take risks. Risks say, “I trust You.” Risks say, “I’m not 100% sure I can do this, but I’m 100% sure You can.” Risks say, “Even if I die trying, it’s still worth the investment.” Fear places blame. Fear never even attempts. Fear hides and buries what could make a difference, and fear doesn’t increase the Kingdom.
So which servant or child of God will you be? It doesn’t take much. Even a smile can yield a return… it isn’t for us to determine worthiness or wealth. It’s for Him to decide, and if it is a gift that He has entrusted to you, it’s a gift that has a purpose. “To the one that is faithful with little, much more shall be given.” Let this be your motivation to be a faithful, eager, trusting servant. After all, it’s not about what’s in it for you; in the end, it’s all His, and if we are faithful, when He comes back, we will get to join in the happiness.