Steve writes on the parable of the talents – a practical application.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 v 14-30 is essentially about our attitude towards what God has given us. All three of the servants were given something but one of the three had a very different attitude to how he was (or wasn’t going to use those talents. Two ideas flow through this parable that lead to the climax and the moral of the story.
Investing for the future
Firstly, who we are and what have is on trust from God. On trust means that it really belongs to him but he has given it to us to manage for a short period of time. And one day we will have to account for how we used what he had given to us. What that means is this – God is very interested in what we do with what he’s put in us and with what he has given us. Obviously, it’s not just about money. It’s about our ability, our skill, our talents, and our dreams. Those are the things that he has entrusted to us and the question is “What are you doing with them?”
Secondly, God lives to see whatever he has given us being used so that it can be multiplied. He’s into investing and he’s looking for a return! So we need to ask ourselves “What has God given me that could be used for other people’s benefit and that could be multiplied?” It may be something that you are good at that could help someone else. Maybe you have a dream that God has put on your heart that reflects his purposes in your life. Maybe you have a skill that could be used in a more powerful way or maybe there is some kind of position that God has given you to influence and make a difference in the world. I really believe that everyone has at least something that God has put into their hearts that he is very interested to see being used. And I don’t just mean in the religious sense. I don’t mean church work. If everyone worked in the church that would be the worst thing that could happen because the point of salt is not that it all sits in the salt cellar but that it is spread out.
Now the interesting thing with this parable is that the servants who where faithful with what God had given them got the rewards.
The first reward was a personal commendation “Well done good and faithful servant”. The idea that Jesus is obviously driving at is tht when he comes back we are going to talk to him. We are going to meet with Jesus and what you want to hear from him is not “you wicked and lazy servant, you wasted the one and only life I gave you.” What you want to hear from him is “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The second reward is increased privilege and responsibility. If we have been faithful in a few things God has given us, he has a way of giving us more, and he doesn’t wait until we get to heaven before doing that. I have seen God doing that in the here and now. That means that we mustn’t just live in the ‘someday.’ We shouldn’t just wait for this big thing to kind of fall on us, someday off in the future.
We need to be faithful with what God has given us now. Put it to good use now and it will have a way of working it’s way towards what God gas for us in the future.
Lastly, the Master invites the servants to share in his happiness. He didn’t say go and throw yourself a party. He said “Come share in my happiness, in your Master’s happiness”. And that’s what God says to us. How big do you think Heaven is? How much happiness do you think is there? That is part of the reward. I don’t know how big it is but the Bible does say that weight of glory being stored up for those who are faithful is so great that it makes all the pain
the pain and suffering and trouble we go through here and now seem like nothing more than a shadow passing on a bright day.
One other point about the rewards is that the rewards are all the same. It doesn’t matter if we were given the five, the two or the one talents – if we are faithful with what we have we will get the same reward. It doesn’t matter if the person next to us seems to be better at something. If you are Faithful with what God has given you now, you may get to heaven and find you have the same reward as Billy Graham, assuming he’s been faithful with what God gave him.
Failing isn’t wrong – failing to try is!
But of course therein lies the sting because the servant who didn’t get the reward blew it not because he failed but because he failed to even try. If he’d gone out and given it his best shot and in the process lost the one talent, he might well have got the same reward. But the master was upset with him because he failed to even try. He in essence buried what was given to him in his back garden. He might even have taken it to church each Sunday to get it prayed over but he never did anything with it. And what is interesting is that he even gave reasons why he never tried!
First, and this is where we come back to where we started, he has a distorted idea about God. He thought the master was out to get him and he was afraid of failure. He foresaw dangers and obstacles and maybe he had experienced disappointment before. Whatever it was, his first response was, “This is a bad deal, it would be so easy to lose this one then I’d really be in trouble”. And his fear built up to such an extent that he took his talent and buried it rather than doing anything with it. And what it came down to was his attitude and his distorted perspective.
Your attitude is the key
My experience is that people who don’t make the most of what God has put in their life are afraid. They are afraid to try and they have got the wrong idea -they think God is against them, not for them (see Rom 8:31).
What about you? Your life ultimately has a lot to do with what kind of attitude you have. Some people have the kind of attitude that always enables them to make the most of life no matter what situation they are in. Other people have a negative attitude where life is always hard going and nothing, in their mind, ever goes right for them. I have been reading this book called “A Second Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul”. All it is is a collection of true stories and one of them is about a guy who had an attitude of making the most of his circumstances. This is how the author tells it:
“Late one morning in 1984 I headed for lunch in San Francisco. I drove towards one of the toll booths. I heard loud music and it sounded like a party or a Michael Jackson concert. I looked around -no other cars with their windows open, no sound trucks. I looked at the toll booth. Inside it the ticket man was dancing. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked ‘I’m having a party’ came the reply. ‘But what about the rest of these people?’ I said looking over to the other booths. ‘Nothing happening there’. ‘They’re not invited’ There is something in his eye that says there is magic in his toll booth. ‘Why aren’t they invited?’ I pressed him. He said ‘Stop! What do those look like to you?’ and he pointed down the row of toll booths. I looked and said ‘They look like toll booths.’ ‘No imagination.’ he said. So I said ‘OK, I give up, what do they look like to you?’ He said ‘Vertical coffins.’ ‘What are you talking about?’ I said.
‘I can prove it’ he replied ‘At 8.30 every morning living people get in and they die for 8 hours. Then, at 4.30, they rise like Lazarus from the dead, re-emerge and go home. For eight hours their brains are on hold, dead on the job.’ I was amazed ‘Why is it different for you? You’re having a good time.’
He looked at me and said ‘I knew you were going to ask that. I am going to be a dancer some day.’
And he looked at the administration building and said ‘My bosses are in there and they are paying For my training. I have a corner office, glass on all sides and I can see the Golden Gate, San Francisco and Berkeley Hills. Half the western world vacations here and I just stroll in everyday and practise dancing.’
Now that is what I call making the most of what God had given him.
God gave him a job collecting money in a toll booth and he decided, instead of dying and living in a vertical coffin, he was going to make something out of his situation. That’s a two or five talent kind of man. The difference is in his attitude. But you might say, “Wait a minute. That’s easy. I mean, all he had to deal with was a rotten job. But what if things in my life really didn’t go well? What happens when we really run into big obstacles, tragedies and things like that? What about people in those kind of conditions?” I know it – it’s hard sometimes. I can’t tell you how many times I have decided to quit on Mondays. But somehow we have to push through. If we are going to be five talent people or two talent people, we’ve got to have an attitude that says “No, nothing is going to stop me.”
Faith is spelt R-I-S-K
One of the many sayings that John Wimber had was “Faith should be spelt R-l-S-K!” and that is the issue in this parable. The problem with the one talent guy was that he had no faith. He didn’t have the faith to take what he was given and do something with it. Don’t be a faithless person. Go for it, Every single one of us has an incredible potential in Jesus for serving, for making a difference, for loving, for making your corner of the world a better place and for helping build the church of Jesus. We may fail along the way but when we’ve fallen it’s just the first lesson in learning how to walk. Who of us ever learnt to walk without falling?
Who of us ever learnt how to swim without almost drowning? Some would say that walking is nothing more than controlled falling. Far too often we miss opportunities because we are afraid of failing or we give up too quickly. We back off and we bury what we have in the back garden.
The next time, when somebody points out to you “You know, you’re good at this kind of a thing.” Don’t just take it and bury it. Instead, run with it, do something with it and make the most of it. Use it for God – you won’t be sorry.