21 Day Challenge – Day 18

Parable of the Talents   |   Tracie Dawson

Scripture: Matthew 25:24-30

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone.  He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.  “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more.  The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more.  But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.  

“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.  The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’  “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’  “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ 

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

  “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate.  I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’  “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’  “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver.  To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.  Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Observations

This parable told by Jesus may be encouraging or troublesome depending on who we identify with most in the story!  He starts with a master who is going on a journey and the servants that he entrusts his property to in his absence.  Right off the bat, it is clear that this is a message of service and stewardship as the assets belong first to the master, not his servants.

As he delegates responsibilities to the servants, he gives five bags of silver (the equivalent today would be millions of dollars!) to one servant, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last.  He did this in proportion to their abilities.

Let’s not miss that part.  The master knew his servants, knew their capabilities, and distributed his resources to them based on their abilities.  Then he left on his journey.

When the master returned, the first two servants happily reported their success having doubled the master’s wealth.  His response to each of them was the same, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”

But the third servant was not joyful at the master’s return.  He was actually insulting and accusatory.  “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.”

The master’s response is what makes this parable very troublesome.  He called the servant worthless, took his allotment, and gave it over to the first.  Then the master sentenced him to a torturous destiny.

As I stated earlier, this parable may be either encouraging or troubling depending on who we most identify with in the story.

You have probably surmised that this is a picture of God, the master, creator and owner of all things.  And he longs to entrust his kingdom to faithful servants- that’s us!  He does not ask of the servants what they cannot do—he gave to each according to their abilities.

He does not set his servants up for failure, but SUCCESS!  But how do we know the master is good and desires to see us succeed?

By his response to the faithful servants, “Well done, you’ve been faithful with this little bit, I’m going to give you MORE.  Now, let’s go celebrate!”

We will find success if our understanding of Him is correct – if we recognize His goodness and generosity, viewing ourselves as stewards of His things.

However, to those who misjudge and mischaracterize the master, believing Him to be harsh, demanding, or even unethical, they become fearful, expecting he has set them up for failure.  Not only do they not use the gifts, the resources granted by the master, but they bury them deep, ultimately rejecting the master and everything he represents.

This is frightening as ultimately, what little had been entrusted to the third servant was taken from him and given to the others.  I don’t mean to sound trite, but it’s a “use it or lose it” situation.  But there is great hope!

Did you notice that servants one and two both doubled their allotments?  It didn’t matter what methods they used, how they invested, or where.  We just know that they immediately set out to work doing the best they knew how.  And their outcomes were both favorable, doubling the master’s investments, setting the stage for even greater responsibilities and joyful celebration!

Application

Many of us would ask, but what has he entrusted to me?  I am not “rich,” according to Forbes, but compared to nearly every other country on the face of this earth, in America, we live like royalty!  One trip to our partners in Peru and Kenya will confirm that truth immediately.

I must admit, I often forget there are the other things He has entrusted to me besides monetary wealth…things like my home and vehicle, a garage filled to capacity with tools and random yard equipment, a “music room” filled with instruments that are rarely touched (much to my chagrin,) books upon books, iphones, ipads, ipods, and so much technology that it makes me want to take up skeet shooting just to see what buckshot can do to an ipad encased in an “indestructable” otter box.  But I digress.

He has also entrusted children to me.  They are His children—on loan to me to raise and  teach to know Him and live according to His way.

What other things can you think of that God has entrusted to you?  A career?  An extraordinary mind?  The ability to communicate effectively to large groups?

Paul asked the Corinthians, “For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?”   (I Cor 4:7)

Ouch.

It is beginning to sound like everything we have, each competency, every capacity—even our resourcefulness are gifts from God!

The question we must ask is what am I doing with what He has given me?  Am I leveraging everything I can for His Kingdom or have I buried it all in fear of failure?  Do I trust that He already knows what I am and am not capable of and that He wants to see me succeed?

Can I look forward to hearing, “Well done my good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with little, so now I will give you more!  Let’s celebrate!”

Prayer

Father God,

Thank you for your goodness and generosity!  Please help me to see myself as steward over the countless blessings I enjoy in life.  Help me to not be fearful in using them for your Kingdom, but bold and confident that you long to see me succeed so that I can grow into greater responsibilities and opportunities to serve you!

Forgive me for thinking that what I have has been earned or is deserved or results from anything I have done.  It is all from you and I long to use it for your glory!

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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