3/27/2020 – The Parable of the Talents
Passage: Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27
Written By: Berent Ostervold – Grad Student
We all have talents. Some we know well, others are secrets to us. But do not fool yourself: your talents are not your own; they come from God.
The Parable of the Talents/Gold Coins is found both in Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-27. Our English word ‘talents’ actually comes from this parable, which we use to mean “natural aptitude or skill.” When Jesus spoke this parable, a talent was an amount of gold, some estimating about $600,000 in current US Dollars. While the word may have changed, the important takeaway is that God has given each of us something extremely valuable.
But in the parable, not all servants receive the same amount. Jesus said, “to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15). There is also no reason to boast to those who have fewer talents, for Paul tells us, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7), making it clear that talents are unearned, free gifts of Grace from God.
So God has given each of us very valuable talents. What are we to do with them? The parable makes it very clear: we are to multiply our talents. The servant who received five talents showed the master that the five talents had been doubled, to which the master replied: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” To the servant who buried his talents, the master calls him “wicked and slothful” (Matthew 25:26). If those replies do not make it clear, Luke also tells us “everyone to whom much was given, of them, much will be required” (Luke 12:48).
The important question for each one of us is, ‘What am I doing with the talents that God has graciously given me?’ If we are honest, the answer is always ‘not enough.’ We could always be doing more with what God has given us. This should humble you, for God has given us very little responsibility, and we cannot even steward this small portion all that well. But this reflection should also overwhelm you with Grace for two reasons: 1) God knows the Christian life is not just difficult: it’s impossible. We can never reach the standard of Christ, but He loves us anyway. 2) This realization frees us from the comparison trap. Because for all people, at all times, in all places, the answer to the question that began this paragraph is the same: they could always be doing more. So whether we are a lead pastor or a new believer, we are not multiplying God’s gifts the way they deserve. The focus, therefore, is on yourself and each day doing a little bit more with the talents which God has entrusted to you.
So each of us should never cease pushing to invest our talents more for the Kingdom of God. For if we invest them well, we get to look Jesus in the face and hear him utter the most wonderful phrase we could expect to hear – “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”