Our scripture this week is Matthew 25:14-30, taken today from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 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.’ 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.’ 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.’ 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.’ 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; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 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? 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. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 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. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Many find this parable hard to understand and are concerned about the treatment of the third servant. The master seems unfair to react so harshly. The servant didn’t do anything wrong, but then again, he didn’t do anything right.
Too often this parable is misunderstood as “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”, which is not what Jesus is telling us. He is speaking not about wealth in the earthly sense but the gifts God has given and the responsibility to use them as God intended. In verses 21 and 23 the master commends those who have done something with what they were given – “you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master”.
We must look at this lesson as being about using what we are given wisely and enthusiastically. God doesn’t want His gift to us buried and unused, it is intended for the good of His children. When we share our blessings, they are multiplied by God’s love.
Gracious God, we have been given wonderful gifts as part of Your plan. Help us see where they are needed and use them for the good of Your people. Amen.