Holy Risk Takers
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called
his own servants and delivered his goods to them. To one he gave five
talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according
to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey
… But he who had received one went and dug in
the ground, and hid his lord’s money.”
Go Deep: You probably know this Parable of the Talents well. Each of the servants was given talents (a sum of money) according to his ability, with the expectation that they would use endowment to produce something of benefit for the master.
The first two did—and were rewarded handsomely; the third didn’t—and was rebuked harshly. In fact, the talent was taken from the latter and given to the first servant, since he had proven to the master that he could increase exponentially whatever was placed in his care.
Now I have no way to prove this theologically, but I have a strong suspicion about this third servant. I don’t think he would have experienced the master’s rebuke had trying at least preceded his failure. I think it was because he didn’t try that the master’s anger was unleashed on him. He played it safe. He feared failure, so he didn’t risk anything. This one-talent servant simply took what he had been given, protected it, and turned it back over to the master in the same condition in which he had received it. And the master blew a gasket!
This gracious but just master had entrusted something special to the servant and the servant did nothing to expand it. Now here is a crucial part of this story: The master had given his servant the talent according to his ability (verse 15). In other words, the master knew, even though it was small, there was production potential in this servant. But the servant wasted it! He let a golden opportunity slip by, and paid a heavy price for it. He didn’t damage the talent; he didn’t lose it; he preserved it—thinking he was doing the master a favor. However, the master found that kind of fear-based, lazy-hearted stewardship odious.
You, too, have been given a talent—probably more: talents in the literal sense of the word, and talents in the sense of kingdom potential and kingdom opportunity. You have been given them according to your ability—not anyone else’s. You won’t be judged against either another’s potential or their production. Your only benchmark is your own faithfulness. As Charles Robinson pointed out, “The reward of being ‘faithful over a few things’ is just the same as being ‘faithful over many things’; for the emphasis falls upon the same word; it is the ‘faithful’ who will enter ‘into the joy of their Lord.’”
It matters not if you have five, three or one talent potential. What matters is what you do with what you have been given. You have been given your talents with the expectation that you will leverage your abilities to increase those talents and enlarge the kingdom for the real Master—for Jesus’ sake.
The whole point of the story is this: Don’t waste your opportunities. Don’t let the possibility of failure paralyze you; don’t let inaction define you. If there is any regret at the end of your faith journey, may that be that you tried and failed, not that you didn’t try.
Risk a little. Even if you fall flat on your face, the fact that your heart was pure and your motive was to increase your Master’s kingdom will bring you to the joyful place of hearing him say to you on that glorious day,
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over
a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.
Enter into the joy of your lord.”
Just Saying… John Chrysostom, a church father and bishop of Constantinople in the fourth century, said, “Do you seek any further reward beyond that of having pleased God? In truth, you know not how great a good it is to please Him.”