Summary: Our stewardship of what God has entrusted to us.
A RIGHT USE OF OUR TALENTS
A “talent” (Matthew 25:15) was a small gold coin valued at the equivalent of fifteen years national minimum wage. Whatever currency we translate that into, it is bound to be tens of thousands - and more. Five talents was enough to provide one of our ‘labourers in the vineyard’ (Matthew 20:1-16) with his daily meal for 75 years.
The word “talent” has passed into the English language - not without some etymological link to this parable - and has come to mean an aptitude, a gift, or giftedness. We speak of a talented musician, a talented speaker, a talented sportsman, etc. Yet we all have talents of one sort or another.
Returning to the parable, the word speaks of the superabundance of the grace of God (James 1:17). Has He not given us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and with Him all good things (Matthew 7:11)? Perhaps, like the last of the servants in this parable, we have just one talent: but we must use even that for the glory of God, and the advancement of His kingdom (2 Corinthians 9:8).
In the parable, the king delivered his goods into the hands of his own servants, and went away into a far country. Jesus told His disciples that it was ‘expedient’ for Him to go away (John 16:7) - but He would not leave them ‘comfortless’ (John 14:18). In these in-between times we are held accountable for the use that we make of what the Lord has entrusted to us - our resources, our time, our money, our gifts, etc.
A long time passed, but at last the lord of those servants returned. The first two servants received a commendation, and a reward. The last used the no-nonsense productivity of the master as an excuse for his own laziness (Matthew 25:24-25).
There is a right kind of fear of God: we call it ‘reverence and godly fear’ (Hebrews 12:28). However, the fear of this servant was a fear of doubt, replacing faith and faithfulness with a fruitless and pointless unproductive dread. How does that attitude honour God?
The master answered this excuse in kind: you know that I am a no-nonsense getter of results - so why did you not invest that which I entrusted to you, that I might at least have received my own with interest (Matthew 25:26-27)? Our gifts, our talents - our resources, our time, our money - are not our own to do with as we please: they are still the possession of the Lord who gave them. He is not standing over us micro-managing every detail, but rather has honoured us with His trust: how do we repay that trust?
In the end, the one-talent servant lost even that which he had (Matthew 25:28-29). Be careful how you use that which the Lord has entrusted to you. Wasted opportunities leave many in outer darkness, where will be “weeping and gnashing their teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
Yet, while the Lord tarries, there is time for true repentance, amendment of life (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). In these in-between times, the Lord is well able to restore ‘the years that the locust has eaten’ (Joel 2:25).