When we read the Parable of the Talents, (Matthew 25: 14-30) we see that a man chose three of his servants to look after his wealth in his absence.
While they were given different amounts, either one, two or five talents of money, each individual talent represented a substantial sum and all three men had complete freedom to decide for themselves to do whatever they thought best.
Two of the servants embraced their master’s trust and put what they had been given to good use. Matthew doesn’t tell us what they did but, clearly, they were successful and, when their master eventually returned, had doubled the original amounts.
No wonder they were congratulated. “Well done, good and faithful servants. Come and share your master’s happiness”. (25:21,23)
As for the third servant, we know exactly what he did with the one talent for which he was responsible: he buried it! He wasn’t for taking any chances. In the ground and out of sight, that talent would stay there, untouched.
When the time came, he dug it up and presented it, possibly thinking he may be congratulated for his prudence in keeping his master’s property safe and sound.
Unfortunately, instead of being commended, he was condemned for his lack of effort. “You wicked, lazy servant”. (25:26)
Now, to be clear, this parable has nothing whatsoever to do with money. The image of different talents of money given to each servant is used to illustrate that every person is entrusted with varying gifts from God; and those gifts are to be used.
The servants given two and five talents of money did just that; they responded to their master’s trust in them. They wanted to work for him and were enthusiastic in their service.
The third servant, either couldn’t appreciate or recognise what he had, and so did nothing. He got on with his own life and ignored the opportunity he had been given.
In the same way that the servants in the parable were given differing talents of money, so too we have been blessed by God with different abilities. We are asked to put them to use.
God will support us and help us, but leaves us with the choice of how we make use of those gifts. He trusts us.
Of course, some things we do may not work out as well as we hope, but God does not demand success, only our willingness and desire to work with what we have been given.
It was that commitment which was missing from the third servant.
He had no interest in doing anything productive. He just sat back and did nothing. No wonder his master denounced him as lazy.
The man further condemned himself by trying to justify his inaction by blaming his master, saying that he was “a hard man” (25:24) and so was afraid to risk what he had been given.
The reality was that he did not know his master at all. His master would have been content with anything worthwhile that the man attempted, even the bare minimum (25:27), but he didn’t even try.
As it was, the man ended up losing what he had. Then again, as we know, that is what happens when an ability is not used; it gradually fades and then is lost.
This is a parable that challenges us is to look at the use we make of the gifts God has given to each one of us.
Make no mistake, no one is without something to offer; regardless of what we might think.
It may be, that out of misplaced modesty or spiritual blindness, we have difficulty in recognising our own God-given abilities.
On the other hand, we might think that anything we can do is not particularly special. We may not appreciate the difference we can make to the life of others.
We don’t see the light that we may bring to someone who seldom gets out, particularly in these Covid restricted times.
We might not realise the comfort a kind word can bring to someone who is hurting.
And so, like the third servant, we do nothing. When we do that, we deprive God of our service and we deprive others of our help; help that is needed.
So then, let us offer our God-given talents, whatever they may be, and let us all strive to be, “good and faithful servants”.
Let us pray.
Holy and ever-loving, Heavenly Father. When we take time to think of all we have, families who love us and friends who care about us and are concerned for us, we realise that we are blessed.
We are blessed that You are a generous, faithful and loving God who gives us all we need, and more.
Help us, in turn, to share our blessings with others. Open our eyes to see the gifts you have given us. Help us put aside our shyness and reluctance to offer ourselves and all that we have to serve You in this world, for everything we have, we hold in trust from You.
Amen, and as we go out in service, let us go with minds that are filled with God’s love, with hearts that grow in hope and with lives that shine Christ’s light.