KEY SCRIPTURE Matthew 25:14-30 (The entire scenario.) 14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
RELEVANCE Are you the person with one talent?
Matthew 23 sees Jesus dipping the Pharisees in the tank of their own history and their predecessors. Matthew 24 is a prophetic chapter of various parables. Our key Chapter 25 commences with Jesus leaving the Jerusalem temple to take His disciples to the mount next door—the Mount of Olives—that famous mount upon which He stands when He returns. When all the arguments about the Kingdom of Heaven cease.
Jesus sits somewhere on the mount and seems to continue from where He left off in Jerusalem. This entire three-chapter dialogue is a must-remember for Christians, as it directly points to the state of our hearts and the unmistakable final impact of our decisions that shape our lives.
Our key scripture speaks of three people to whom their Master gave talents (money) to invest.
The Master would then return and reap the rewards of selecting those three investors. There is nothing odd about that. We do it with money and banks, children and chores, employers with employees, and even voters with politicians. In this parable, the Master made the same choices we might make with other things.
Upon what did He weigh His selection? The various abilities of the people He chose. (v15). Accordingly, He gave more talents to the investor with more talent, fewer talents to the one with fewer talents (pun intended), and one talent to the last person so as not to overburden him.
In the Master's estimation, all could provide a return. Each had the ability to do their tasks. The skill was present; therefore, the amount of return was ultimately determined by the investor's character and passion for the mission—whether they wanted to do it. Quite aside from their skillset.
We know Jesus wasn't talking about money but the skills, character, and desire to see the worth and presence of His Kingdom increase within the community.
What happened to the investor with one talent? Why didn't he invest? Why didn't he use the God-given talent his Master knew he had?
Consider why someone wouldn't fulfill even the least of his Master's requests.
I wonder if he thought his Master should have given him more responsibility, as He did with the others, not that measly little job He gave him.
We need to begin looking at ourselves at this point. Why don't we get things done for the Lord? Do we think the Lord should give us a more important job? Are we merely lazy? If we're lazy, why are we?
Is our reward too minimal? If we think that, why? Big rewards get us moving, but not prizes of little significance. Do we value God so little?
Maybe our man was a procrastinator? Procrastination is postponing, which means we've found something more important to fill that gap, even if it's sitting on a couch. If a procrastinator (postponer), maybe that's the same issue as laziness. If some grander benefactor asked him to do a small task, would he have done it?
Maybe our one-talent man had ego problems. Plenty of egos sit disguised in church pews. Maybe he wanted a job that showed people he was great. I recall a mate in the 70s who always wanted to do something big for the Lord. Even today, he has done little. I think that is because he always wanted to be a person others thought important. But God, like any wise Master, can't give big jobs to people without proving them on minor tasks. He doesn't give His investors more than they can handle. (1 Corinthians 10:13).
All his Master asked for was a return on His investment. He did not ask how he was to do it, just according to his abilities. We know from scripture that something made this guy sit on his hands and do nothing.
What did he do with the talent?
Scripture says he hid the talent in the earth. Why would he not just put it on a table or in a draw? Why would he hide it so far away from life? Perhaps to forget it? To put it as far from his mind as possible without throwing it away? Maybe he thought he had too much to do and would pull it out later and invest. Then again, perhaps he secretly disliked or thought less of His Master than he showed.
But His Master's return took him by surprise. Our investor was full of excuses, but they were all lies. And when we face our Master without any show for His investment in us, our hearts will try to lie just like he did. At this time, God will confront every excuse we gave ourselves for not getting His work done, and not one of them will stand.
The reason for the lack of investment is irrelevant. Unfaithfulness was the fact. Had he known outer darkness was his ultimate payment for being faithless and taking his Master's command lightly, he would have brought an increase.
God wants us to be doers of the work. 2 Kings 22:5, And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the Lord: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the Lord...
When we come to Christ, we become those investors. Christ lays upon us specific tasks, some more difficult than others, and expects an ROI—a return on investment. When He gives us talents, we will use them without procrastination, laziness, or dismissal. We may not get it right the first time, but our abilities grow as we grow in Christ.
Novelist Stephen King said, "Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us get up and go to work."
If we need a machine to get the job done? Okay, let's get one. If we need more time? Find it; it's there. The famous author of more than 130 books, Jerry Jenkins, said when asked how he got his books written. He would come home from work and be a husband and father until about 9-10 pm. Then go to his den and write until completing a certain number of pages, finishing around midnight or 1.00 am. Then repeat it the next day. He could not afford laziness, procrastination, or wait for special moments, nor did he take his sponsors for granted. He just did it.
One of my old bosses, a non-christian, had a strapline or marketing statement for his business, "We do ordinary things extraordinarily well!"
That is precisely what Christ expects from us.
Christ's fishermen got things done. We are those fishermen of our era, and we need to do Christ's work in our square metre of the world. We won't preach to vast multitudes until He can trust us to dust the pews in our church for nothing with the same grace and excellence as if paid $2000 per week.
We are caretakers of our Kingdom talents. They are not ours. Many have the same skills as you and me, and plenty are more talented. Our skills are passed down to every era. We're not that special. Many can do what we can do, but God has chosen us. What are we doing with them?
PRAYER Dear Lord, my talents are few, but help me use them to their fullest. Please help me shape them into worthy instruments for your glory, and provoke me in my slackest times.
Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya