Read: Matthew 25
“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. … But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.” (Matthew 25:14-15,18)
You probably know this Parable of the Talents well. The servants were given talents (a sum of money) each according to their ability, with the expectation that they would use these resources 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 within 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 the master would have excoriated him if effort had at least preceded his failure. I think it was because he didn’t try that the master’s anger was unleashed upon him. He played it safe. He feared failing, 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 effortlessness. 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 and offensive.
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 opportunities. 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 actual 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’s sake.
The whole point of this story is this: Don’t waste your opportunities. Don’t let the possibility of failure paralyze you into inaction. If you do, the regret at the end of your faith journey won’t be that you tried and failed. It will be 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.”
“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.” ~John Chrysostom
What If God Took Over?
Given your talents, resources and opportunities, where is it that you can risk a step of faith? Don’t wait any longer—start investing in God’s work!