The Parable of the Talents
This passage is also about where we invest what He gives us. Remember, these talents are the abilities and opportunities that He gives us! They are to help us stretch and grow beyond what we think we can do. How we use them is up to us, we can use them to benefit us, use them in others lives, use them in Him or we can do what is foolish. However, when we are in Christ, do we waste what He gives? Take comfort; God only gives us the opportunities to match the abilities He has given us. Thus, the work is not to tough it, and it is OK not to succeed; it is only when we refuse to follow and be used that it is considered wicked.
1. Like a man traveling. The theme is investing. We are given the resources and opportunities; when we put them back into the Kingdom, it is a guaranteed dividend and investment growth in what is far more precious and valuable than an earthly stock market!
a. His own servants. This was the picture of a very wealthy landowner who often delegated control to trusted employees and accountants as corporations do today. This was a position that was good and an honor!
b. The rich had perhaps many homes between which they traveled.
c. Talents. A talent is usually one year's wages for the rich, and a silver talent was up to 6,000 days of wages for an average worker. It also means endowment, being given something precious. Talents have become synonymous with natural abilities. This passage really does not deal with money, but rather with whatever the Lord gives us. This can be any endowment or ability such as money, natural talents, resources, spiritual gifts, opportunities, or a person with whom to talk and encourage.
d. Even the small portion was an extraordinary sum of money. We need to see that God trusts us with His goods and people. These goods and people are extraordinarily valuable, hence the reason why Jesus uses such language to describe vast wealth. The real wealth in life is not in money, but rather, in relationships and obedience. God trusts us with His vast wealth! The question is, what do we do with that trust?
e. Traveling. Because there was no mechanized or scheduled transportation, no one would know when the master would come back, even from a well-planned trip. Thus, it was imperative that everyone be prepared and productive at all times.
f. Only the most dependable and trusted servant would get such an opportunity to invest in their master's behalf.
g. When these talents are functioning as they are given to us, we become Christ's hands and feet in the world!
2. The key characteristics are being trustworthy, dependable, and honest. The same ones go into serving Him properly and honorably.
a. According to his own ability. The measuring stick which God uses to measure us is not against one another-what someone else has done; rather, it is what we are capable of! He judges us against ourselves! So, never worry what others are doing; only seek what you can do better! Be ready means to be prepared for a long delay, as Christ may return tomorrow or in another two thousand years. His timing is to help our faith development and preparedness.
b. Do not misjudge yourself; seek Him and let your confidence be who you are in Him, not how others respond to you!
c. Moneychangers were like banks and would earn a small amount of interest. Jews were not to charge interest to fellow Jews (Ex. -27). Some used this system to extort others and acquire vast amounts of wealth. Investing was then as today-in business, property, and foreign ventures for trade.
d. This is an aspect of stewardship! What we are given is not for us to hoard, but to use. We are in training for a much larger service to come. What we learn here on earth helps develop the skills and integrity to serve Him even more in eternity. We need to see our lives as boot camp-training to benefit what is to come. When we negate our training, we will be unprepared and ill-equipped to do much of anything! Our standing in the Kingdom is determined by our faithfulness here with what Christ has given, and the people and places for which we can use those talents.
e. Faithful over a few things. Obeying is faithfulness! Obeying is not about education, intelligence, or skill; rather, it is taking what He gives and doing. It is taking what He has given and replicating, increasing, and using it for the benefit of others, as well as for our growth and His glory (1 Cor. 4:2).
3. Dug in the ground. This was done to protect the money from a thief, taking no risk and thus no potential of return. It would be like buying a car and never using it because you do not want to get it dirty, or, like hiding money in a mattress and never using it to better your life or serve God. It is not using our gifts and opportunities because we are fearful.
a. In the parable in Luke, Jesus uses the illustration of tying the money in a cloth, showing not only fear, but also extreme negligence (Luke 19).
b. Doubling. This was actually easy to do because there were few rich people and they often lent the money to build cites and set up business for others. Obedience proves integrity!
c. Hard man, meaning the servant knew better! He displayed neglect, distrust, carelessness, and perhaps laziness.
d. You have what is yours, refers to I am not responsible. This is classic blame-shifting and refusal to take responsibility for one's actions (Gen 3:12-13; Jer. 31:29-30; Ezek. 18:1-4; Matt. 7:1-5; Rom. 14:12-13).
e. Deposit money. He could gather interest from the Romans and other Gentiles (Lev. 25:36-37; Neh. 5:7; Prov. 28:8).
f. Wicked…lazy. God gives us the opportunities that match our abilities and resources as well as our connections. The amount of talents given to us is irrelevant, as one is as great as 10; it is how we use them that matters. The person who receives more is of no more value or worth to God than the one who receives one! When we refuse to use what God gives, take heed; this is being wicked!
g. We have to be careful that we do not sell ourselves short. He gives us the ability and the opportunity; we must reach out and take it-risk as well as reward. To not be prepared, to not risk is to negate opportunities which will only lead to loneliness and bitterness, as we will see-a life wasted, not a life fulfilled (Matt. 6:33; 2 Cor. 1:20)!
h. Darkness is the imagery for hell. We have to realize we cannot blame- shift; we have to take our responsibility seriously!
Do not misjudge yourself; rather, seek Him and let your confidence be in whom you are in Him, not in how others respond to you! Allow yourself to be used! It is each Believer's responsibility to find, develop, and exercise the talents and gifts given to him or her (1 Peter ; 1 Corinthians 12:7,11). How we are to behave and interact with one another is governed by the Spirit working through each of us with these gifts (see our Spiritual Gifts Channel). We must acknowledge our role in the Body; there are no lone wolves in Christ! We have a duty to fulfill, and a role to play. When we refuse to find and use our gifts, we not only hurt ourselves, but each other and our Lord! The Spirit empowers us beyond just the "natural talent" (1 Corinthians 2:14-15; Galatians 1:15-16;1 Peter: 5). At His second coming, Jesus will be looking for those who are prepared and faithful. Are you prepared and faithful, using what He has given to His glory in a faithful way? Yes we will fail; we will forget; we will miss opportunities. The important thing is to not let fear captivate you; rather, do your best in striving to use what He gives. Because, not doing anything is what is wicked; failing is not wicked!
Do not allow yourself to become prideful, lazy, or conceited in your outlook toward others. This thinking is straight from another source other than the Bible and God's call (Matthew 28)! Satan does not want you to discover your gifts; he wants you to ignore your responsibility and nurture of one another!
1. Have you ever known someone who was extremely talented but never used his or her talent? How did you feel for and about them for that?
2. How do you think God feels when we do not put to use what He gives us?
3. How would you define being prudent? What about being prepared?
4. How have you forsaken your opportunities and responsibilities?
5. Do you think the master was being too harsh with his servant? Why?
6. What has your church done with the resources and opportunities the Lord has given? How has your church put them back into promoting the Kingdom?
7. What does it mean to you that our God trusts you with His most valuable goods and people? What have you done? What will you do?
8. Do you really believe that real wealth in life is not in money, but rather in relationships and obedience? If not, why? If so, why?
9. How does it make you feel that when your talents are functioning as they are given to you, you become Christ's hands and feet in the world?
10. Do you see that being trustworthy, dependable, and honest is a matter of how you have or have not grown in Him?
11. The measuring stick that God uses to measure you is not against one another-what someone else has done, but rather what you are capable of. So, how can this motivate you to take the opportunities He has given and make the most of them?
12. How have you misjudged yourself and the opportunities He has given?
13. Have you realized that when we negate our training, we will be unprepared and ill-equipped to do much of anything for His glory? How does this make you feel?
14. How does fear destroy your opportunity to be productive?
15. Do you believe that when we refuse to use what God gives us, we are being sinful? How so? Remember, this is not trivial, as it blocks His work from developing within us and through us to others!
16. Do you believe it is each Christian's responsibility to find, develop, and exercise the talents and gifts given to him or her? If so, what is in the way from this happening in you and in others?
17. What happens when we allow our fear to take us over?
18. How can you take comfort that God only gives us the opportunities to match the abilities He has given us? How would this help you eradicate your fear?
19. What do you need to do to allow Christ to let your confidence be who you are in Him, and not in how others respond to you? How would this help you learn and be confident in witnessing?
20. What do you believe God has given you? What have you done with it? Where do you invest what He gives you? How do you make it count for His glory?
Extra thoughts on Leadership: Church Leadership
© 2004 R. J. Krejcir IntoThy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org