The Talents given to The Servants

Matthew 25 vs. 14-30

14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (The King James Version, 1769.)

There are two stories related by Jesus concerning the giving of money to servants and the lord's expectations when he returns. The other example is found in Luke 19.11. These two parables are different in some details from one to another. The example in Luke occurs before the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. He was sitting with Lazarus, and some of the leaders that followed Jesus into Jericho, for a midday meal. The story is delivered to all who were there. The second time Jesus tells this parable of the talents is when he was on the mount of Olives, several days after the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. It is delivered to the apostles only.

For the purposes of this story we have a man who called his servants to him. He has a good eye for talent, the strength and ability of each one. Based on these traits he then distributes an appropriate amount of wealth. To the more able servant he gives five talents, to the so-so servant two and to least able servant he gives one. Then the man departs on his journey.

When Jesus is the man, the time line is slightly different. Jesus is about to take his journey, not to the cross and the grave but to heaven forty days after his resurrection. What does he do? Will he give them his goods before he leaves? Not yet. What he has given them was the task they were to perform. It was the great commission, to go into all the world and preach the gospel. This was accomplished when the disciples met in the upper room the night after his resurrection.

What is the talent? The Holy Spirit of God. He is: the goods, the money, the power, that needs to be invested into the world.

When is the Spirit to be given? Ten days after Jesus ascends to heaven. When Jesus departs for that far away country.

The day it happens? Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover.

Their personal ability? After all, the Spirit is given in measure to their ability. We can think of their natural strengths and weaknesses: their education, physical health, mental health, drive, etc. If you are talking about a man giving his goods to his servants you are probably right. Jesus, however, looks on man in a different way. It is not the natural ability that he judges but their heart and the persons ability to follow the leading of the Spirit.

I would like to borrow from Luke 12.48, "...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." This is the guiding principle behind this parable. We are dealing here with ministry. We are looking at what task God gives to a person. How large the sphere of influence. How much authority is laid upon that person's shoulders. All this is given by God to each individual. It is enabled by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The scripture is talking about reward for service and not a person's salvation.

Elsewhere the scripture says that the Spirit was given to Jesus without measure. A powerful anointing fell on the apostles and disciples for service to others and God. This anointing sets aside people for leadership (five fold ministry: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers), enable individuals by granting them a spiritual gift or gifts as the case may be (tongues, interpretation, prophecy, healings, etc.), and the ability to administer the church functions (one example, feeding the widows). We are enabled to the degree we can follow the Spirit according to God's purposes.

When the Spirit moves: circumstances change, hearts are changed, lives are changed and the Spirit of God is spread abroad further and further. The man's servants increased earthly goods. The servants of Jesus increase the reach of the Spirit, by bringing more people into God's kingdom, getting them anointed with God's Spirit and expanding the kingdom even more. Not all are five talent apostles. Not many are two talent leaders. Most are one talent workers of faith. Each of us doing what God has placed on our hearts to do. All of us working together, to advance the kingdom and the anointing spreads.

The man returns to his home and business. He calls his servants together to give an account of what they were able to do. The one given five doubles his master's investment. The one given two doubles his master's investment. The one given one? Hid the talent in the ground, buried the treasure. Of course the successful workers gain a greater portion of the man's wealth. Their power and influence are increased. The other servant? What a disappointment. All that potential and he was too scared to use it? Even worse, he wouldn't let anyone else try to increase his master's wealth. The portion he had was given to the most able and he was cut off. Thrown out of the house of his master with nothing. He weeps over his poverty, he gnashes his teeth at the perceived injustice and is lost.

When Jesus returns it will be wonderful for us who believed. Who walked with God. Who had the opportunity to do the works of God, and took it. Our blessings will be doubled. I can't imagine what that will be like. Who can understand the greatness of God's gift of the Holy Spirit given to us? How much more does our imagination fall short when we try to think of the reward awaiting us. To us who follow God our five, two or one talent will be increased.

I wrote earlier that this parable is talking about rewards not salvation. Yet what happens to the individual who has received his "one talent" from God and buries it? I mean even when they are around others who are using their "talents" they will keep their talent hidden. "Not me," they say, "I could blow it. I may do harm. I might cause trouble." Not only will they not be lead but they even won't let a pastor or elder know what their gifting is. If they knew perhaps they will ask me to contribute. I don't want to take the chance that they might be right or wrong." Even worse, "I couldn't be bothered to put my hand to the plow." How will God judge this person? God sees through their excuses. They are wicked to hide their gifting... they are lazy and will not do the work. The result? They are going to be put out of the kingdom. There will be weeping and gnashing of their teeth.

Bottom line?

In the end it is simply this... the unprofitable servants will not have Jesus to rule and reign over them. We are talking about willful disobedience. Could the servant above repent... the fact is... he doesn't. He has hardened his heart. Those who bury their talent risk losing all.

Now, are some weak? Yes! Do some get lost? Yes! Do they make mistakes? Certainly! Too tired or discouraged to raise their heads? Sadly, yes! Do some willingly give in to temptation? Sigh... Yet for all that they still long to be closer to God. The enemy of our souls may attack us, successfully, through earthly circumstances or with spiritual weapons, yet there is still room, still time, for all that to change. The "crossing the line" is not willingly falling away because of your circumstances but to willfully deny God his due.

So take heart. Whatever the anointing you have received, whatever the service you are asked to do, do it. If you feel you can't? Turn your face toward Him and He will help you repent, draw you close to him and receive a fresh anointing to begin your task anew. Then you will be helping God spread his Spirit around the world and it is only a matter of time before you get your reward. If not... God our Father is a just God. And Jesus knows our weaknesses. We can trust them to be fair and compassionate.

Author: Joseph A Raymond
9 February 2011

commentary index page

Webite administrator: Joseph A Raymond
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada