Matthew is one of the synoptic gospels meaning this book is like Mark and Luke but he writes about kingdom matters. This chapter contains 3 parables about various aspects of the gifts and talents given for the uplifting of the kingdom on earth. Sometimes people lost sight of the fact that all is given to promote the glory of God in the earth.
In this parable Jesus speaks of the kingdom in the context of money something most people can understand. In a time when the rich kept getting richer and the poor were mighty in number, this was a good visual.
Talent – Knowing the meaning, the actual weight and value of the talent is significant to the intensity of the principle of the parable. As the largest biblical unit of measure a talent would equal 75 pounds. In the New Testament, the term “talent” meant something very different than it does today. A talent represented a rather large sum of money. According to New Nave’s Topical Bible, one who possessed five talents of gold or silver was a multimillionaire by today’s standards. Some calculate the talent in the parables to be equivalent to 20 years of wages for the common worker. Other scholars estimate more conservatively, valuing the New Testament talent somewhere between $1,000 to $30,000 dollars today.
Looking at the Scripture
- The man entrusts the management of his property to his servants. Christ has done the same thing with us. He has shared with us the responsibility of building the kingdom here on earth with us.
- Responsibility given according to servants’ ability. Nepotism is not behind his decision. He knows his servants and they know him. What do you know about our Master’s business? As Christians what have we been given to carry out the mandate of Christ in the earth?
- The man expected a return on his investment and the servants knew this up front.
- Each gift tests the servants’ loyalty to the Master who has given it.
- The size of the gift or talent doesn’t matter. The gifts and talents are given to the one who is capable of handling what they have been given.
- Each gift is an expression of God’s grace. Who is worthy of God’s grace? There is no measurement by human standards.
The action of the servants
They went at once – immediately to put the money to work. They had walked with their master and knew the Master’s M.O. – His modus operandi – His way of doing business. So, two invested the talents and one buried it in the ground. Scripture says he hid it. This was common in this time. I noted that if he had been a “farmer” burying it would have been good. But he did not plant; he hid his master’s investment for “safe keeping.” If he had invested, he ran the risk of losing it all but he also ran the risk of doubling the investment. He played it safe. The problem with playing it safe is he did not follow his master’s lead. His master was an investor.
Our God is an investor. He invested in me and you. He gave us His spirit and thus we have the Master’s DNA. We are now Disciples N Action. DNA is a thing of the heart; a part of your make up.
God doesn’t ask us to do what he hasn’t equipped us to do but the expected results are commensurate with the gift given. We are accountable to God for the talents given to us. Who would you let invest your goods? Who would you trust? The three men were all given “talents” to invest but the amount differed; not the investment.
On behalf of the man given one talent, I must say that he is not so out of the loop as we have heard. He knew his master and knew what his master expected. Is it possible that he hid the talent because he was concerned that the gift might have been misused? Did he know what to do to “preserve” what the master had given him? His remark to the master seems rude and maybe arrogant: “You reap where you have not sown.” This saying or answer is a blatant reality.
If we think in terms of investments today, we give people we really don’t know but trust, our money to invest and we expect a return. We move our money around if we are not pleased with the investment. Let me put it in terms of gardening. You give someone your seed; they plant; you reap the rewards. The servant was merely speaking the truth but we have managed to twist its meaning.
Now the spiritual perspective: God has deposited seed in us that needs to be planted. Someone else may do the watering but it is God who is to reap the benefits, the harvest. We are active participants in kingdom building here on earth. It is up to us to share Christ so that others will get to know Christ as we have known Christ and God will reap the benefits of another soul coming out of the world and into the fold. You have been given a great responsibility but the expected return is commensurate with the gift given. If it is one gift or talent, use it well. If it is five gifts or talents, use them well. Do all to the glory of God for the building up of God’s kingdom here on earth.