Summary: The parable of the talents begins and ends with the master. Perhaps it is not about the talents, then, but the master.
“Connected: A Good Designer”
Ephesians 4:7-13; Mathew 25:14-30
Some labels miss the point and purpose of their product’s existence. For example, a hair dryer had this instruction label: “Don’t use while sleeping.” Or consider this one on a toilet at a public sports facility in Ann Arbor: “Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking.” How about the label on an iron that read: “Caution, do not iron clothes on your body.” Or this one on a portable stroller: “Remove infant before folding for storage.” And then, on a Superman costume: “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.” The third servant in the parable of the talents had plenty of talent with which to work but failed to understand the giver or the purpose of the talents.
According to Matthew, one of Jesus’ last major teachings prior to what we know as the Holy Week events was this parable of the talents. Being one of his last teachings, we can assume it had major importance and impact. But it is a frustrating parable. It’s simple, yet not simple; about money, yet not about money; about judgment, yet not about judgment; about us, yet not about us. So let’s begin where Jesus began: “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” The parable pictures a common custom. When a property or estate owner left for a long period of time, he would assign his most trusted servants the responsibility of caring for and managing his property and assets. We automatically assume, then, that the parable will be about the servants and the property. In fact, the parable was eventually titled “The Parable of the Talents.” But note that the parable begins and ends with the master. Perhaps it is not about the servants but instead concerns the master.
And, of course, we quickly realize that the master is Jesus – He’s telling a story about Himself. Therefore, THE PARABLE IS ABOUT GOD, not us. It is a story or lesson about what God is like – and whenever Jesus paints picture of God it is surprising – and often upsetting! Here it appears that Jesus claims God is a harsh, greedy, master who has no patience for cautious people. Or is He?
What is your view of God? Whatever it is, it is important, because OUR VIEW OF GOD DETERMINES HOW WE ACT. Consider the 3rd servant’s response to the master’s return. “… I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” The servant’s feelings about his master determined how he acted. So what is your view of God?
Listen to the Psalmist (95:3-7): “For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” God is our maker. He is our designer. It is important that we know and are connected to our designer. Some people will only buy clothes from a certain designer – because of quality, looks, price, or fashion. They will wear only certain labels because they like what it says about them. What does the label of your life say? To whom does it point? It is essential that we understand who God is, because GOD HAS PUT HIS LABEL ON US –WE ARE SHAPED FOR GOD’S SERVICE. So what is your view of God?
Let’s go back to the parable. “…it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants…” Notice that GOD TAKES THE INITIATIVE. God always takes the initiative. In Genesis, He was the one who would show up to walk with Adam and Eve. After Adam sinned, it was God who took the initiative and sought him out. In Exodus we learn that it was God who, after hearing the cry of the enslaved Israelites, called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt into a promised land. It was God who took the initiative in saving us, for He is the one who implanted His seed in a virgin named Mary. It was God who took the initiative sending Jesus to the cross: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It was God, through Jesus, who took the initiative to go on a journey and call his servants. God takes the initiative – HE STAYS INVOLVED IN OUR LIVES. Isn’t God great?