Scripture: Matthew 25:14 (In talking about his second coming Jesus said) “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
Observation: In this section of the book of Matthew, Jesus has been teaching his disciples how they should conduct themselves while waiting for the Messiah’s return. In an earlier parable (about bridesmaids) Jesus makes it clear they should be alert and watchful, as one never knows when the Messiah will return. In this parable he explains they should also be good stewards of the resources given to them, though different persons get different amounts of resources. It’s not about how much you’ve been given to work with, but what you do with what you have that counts.
Application: First, everyone has gifts/talents from the Lord and it’s important to know what they are. I stumbled around during my first 20-25 years of life figuring out what I was good at, mostly via trial and error. I eventually figured out that my gifts were in the areas of communication, leadership, and strategic thinking. What would you name as your primary gifts/talents? If you’re not sure, ask some people who know you well. Sometimes other can see in you what you cannot see in yourself.
Second, it’s important to know your gifts are intended for the glory of God who created you, not for your own glory. I started out working in business sales before going to seminary to become an ordained pastor. I did okay in the secular world, but found I was far more fruitful as a pastor (not that everyone should be a pastor, but that was the case with me). When you get in synch with God’s purpose for you, you will bear far more fruit than in other pursuits. Think 2+2 = 10 instead of 4. Do you think you’re in synch with God’s purposes for you at this time? Why or why not?
Third, God doesn’t measure our fruitfulness by comparing us to other people, as we often do in the secular world. Do you find yourself comparing yourself to others to assess how you’re doing? If so, do you think this has a positive or negative influence on you?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, each of us has different talents and resources at our disposal, but we’re all expected to use what we have for your glory. Give us grace to know what our gifts are, and to employ them in the way you intended. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.