Our scripture this week is Matthew 25:14-30, taken today from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB).
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey. He called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent, depending on each one’s ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. In the same way the man with two earned two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I’ve earned five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’ “The man with two talents also approached. He said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I’ve earned two more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.’ “The man who had received one talent also approached and said, ‘Master, I know you. You’re a harsh man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “His master replied to him, ‘You evil, lazy servant! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and I would have received my money back with interest when I returned. “‘So take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Our understanding of this parable is hampered by the translation to English, the two thousand years of history between us, and the difference in our cultures. Trying to make it fit today is difficult if we don’t understand the circumstances, we get lost in the “but what about this?” details. Jesus wants us to hear the facts in the story over anything else.
Some translations use the term “servant” and others “slave”, and in our society these are loaded terms. We need to listen and understand the facts in the lesson without being distracted by this. Perhaps if the story said “employees” we could move into the teaching more easily.
The fact that sometimes gets lost in this parable is that the master trusts his people. He is counting on them to continue the business while he is away. Jesus gives us instructions to continue his ministry and the gifts to do so, just as did the master in the parable. We are called to be partners in His kingdom work.
Loving Lord, help us to hear Your call, see the needs and share Your love in the world. Let us be the workers You intend us to be. Amen.