Faithful with Talents
All that we have is from God (Rom 11:36). We must be found faithful, as stewards entrusted with our allocation of talents (1 Cor 4:2). Talents in the Bible are weight portions of money, not natural gifts and abilities, as they are often defined, today.
God gives us something of value. He gives us our lives, families, friends, education, experiences, salvation, service opportunities, fruit of the Spirit, spiritual gifts, positions, situations, and entrusted labors. If we have been given talents from God, then we must understand what is to be done, and for what we must give an account.
We learn from Jesus in His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 25:14–30. Here, our Lord employs the theme of wise and foolish slaves in what is commonly referred to as, “The Parable of the Talents.” This is the third of three principle teachings, in His instructing His disciples to prepare for His second coming (Mt 24:45–25:30). The dichotomy of wise and foolish (faithful and evil) is found in each of His teaching points.
The key element in Jesus’ parable is the talent. Three slaves are entrusted with what belongs to their Master (25:14). They each have the same expectation put upon them. They are to trade in the marketplace and bring a return to their Master (25:16–18).
After receiving and doing what they were able to do in trade, their Master returns from His long journey (25:19). It is time to settle accounts. Two servants are found faithful to have done their Master’s will (25:20–23). One failed at the task given to him (25:24).
In this parable, we are reminded that the Day of the Lord is the major theme in the Olivet Discourse. The Day of Judgment is coming when people will not be expecting it (Lk 12:40). The point is that the Day of accounting will bring an assessment of each person’s work for the Lord. Slaves must work diligently as unto the Lord (1 Thess 5:12; 2 Tim 2:15), as those who will surely give an account of all that is done in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:10).
Examine yourself as one of these three slaves. God has given you what you have. The amount correlates with who God made you to be, and the tasks He has assigned for you. These are the good works prepared for you from beforehand (Eph 2:10). What do you have that you did not receive from the Lord (1 Cor 4:7)?
Because everything is from God, whatever we have should never be a cause for boasting (Rom 3:27). Whatever God has apportioned to others should never be a cause of envy. His grace is sufficient to accomplish all His holy will in and through you (Eph 1:11; 2 Cor 12:9). Anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume was a small act, but it has historical acclaim to this very day! Our labor as unto the Lord should always be a labor of love (1 Thess 1:3), regardless of whether it is judged to be small or great. God knows the intentions of our heart (Heb 4:12)
Christians are slaves of Christ who have received mercy from God (Rom 9:23; Eph 6:6). The acceptable response of the redeemed people of God is thanksgiving (1 Thess 5:18). We are to give thanks in everything from a pure heart that understands…God knows best.
God has given us His Spirit to lead and guide us to the employment of our gifts, in His providential workings. This is what it means for the Christian to wait on the Lord. Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, and we long to hear the commendation, “Well done, good and faithful slave (Mt 25:21, 23).” He who began this good work in you, Christian, has promised to bring it to its successful end (Phil 1:6).
Our Master’s business pertains to the kingdom of God, so our labors are spiritual (1 Cor 2:10–16). Our respective callings will vary immensely. Some will be given positions of power and prominence in His service, while others may find themselves suffering a terminal illness in obscurity. God may or may not be glorified by either slave. The will of the Master is bound up in the heart of the slave, and he whose heart is ruled by the Master, will do his Master’s will.
The variance in amount of talents is met with variance in faithfulness to trade/serve. Jesus’ parable has a stern warning for the one who squanders his talent. Why do some who claim to be Christian end up being judged lazy and idle? It is reasonable to see the spirit of dissatisfaction in the wicked, lazy slave. He was not happy with his lot in life, nor his allotment of talents. His heart is ruled by sin, and his will is to sin against the Master he claimed to serve. In truth, his master was sin (Rom 6:6).
The bitter servant was wrong in his assessment of His Master (25:24–25). The Lord was pleased with His faithful slaves, rewarding them richly (and disproportionately!). Unregenerate men are useless (Rom 3:12). The disgruntled slave is deemed worthless (25:30). It is a sin to do nothing with God’s providence, especially if one claims to be Christian. When one has a little, does he envy one with much? When one has much, does he boast in pride? One’s heart attitude is bound with one’s nature, be it sin or grace.
Our Lord is gracious and compassionate (Ps 103:8; 111:4). He is a wise slave Master, and in fact, He is Lord of all (Acts 10:36). He is not unreasonable in His allocations, nor in the places of ministry, nor in His assessment of faithfulness.
In summary, the Parable of the Talents has one Master and three slaves, who have stewardship over three different talent amounts. There is a time of trade and a time for testing. The issue is not prosperity/success; rather, it is faithfulness. One must do what his Lord would have him to do, and he must do it as unto His Lord with his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.
In conclusion, grace wills and works to accomplish God’s good pleasure and what concerns us as His faithful slaves (Ps 138:8; Phil 2:13). Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23). God is at work in every believer (Is 26:12). He will do it (Ps 37:5). There is the reward of grace, which is the privilege to serve Christ and to have Him as our eternal reward.
Those who operate without grace will be known by their fruit. These do not belong to Christ and feign their labor for His kingdom (Jn 10:26). Their punishment is just. All of this is from God, who is glorified.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 26, 2022