Summary: If you are not actively pursuing ways to advance God’s work, you are failing your master.
Text: Matthew 25:14-25:30
America is seemingly fascinated with talented people. Take for example the show American Idol. This past Tuesday evening over 35 Million people tuned in to see the hopefuls risk their egos and to see what Simon had to say. So many people think that this concept is new, but those of us who can remember back in the Dark Ages of the 1980’s watched when Ed McMahon was doing Star Search.
1. A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment.
a. Natural endowment or ability of a superior quality.
b. A person or group of people having such ability: The company makes good use of its talent.
2. A variable unit of weight and money used in ancient Greece, Rome, and the Middle East.
The word talent comes from the Greek word Talanton which was a measure of weight and money used in ancient Greece. And it is that word which we find in the parable of the talents recorded in Matthew 25 which serves as our text for today’s lesson.
Let’s turn to Matthew 25:14 and examine the parable:
I. The Parable
14“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
1) In this story, Jesus describes a man who owned a great household or in today’s vernacular, a business. He often traveled great distances for extended periods of time. During this particular trip, he placed the responsibility of the business on three individuals who worked for him.
2) The owner knew exactly what each man could handle so he proportioned the management responsibility according each person’s ability. One was given five talents, one was given three talents, and the third one was given a single talent.
3) A talent was actually a measurement of weight. Talents would vary greatly depending upon just what was being weighed out — gold, silver, copper. A single talent of either gold, silver or copper would have been a significant sum of money.
4) For instance, a talent of silver was worth 6000 denarii. A denarii was the amount of money that a laborer would earn in a single day, so one talent of silver would be equal to sixteen years of salary. Five talents would be enough money to live a long and prosperous life. If you were to translate that into modern terminology using the figure that a good laborer today makes between seventy and one hundred dollars a day, a talent would be worth over four hundred thousand dollars.
5) The owner entrusted these guys with a lot of resources. It is interesting, however, that he did not provide instructions for them to follow. How they handled the money and how they behaved while he was away was left entirely to the discretion of each individual worker. What did they do?
16“Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17“In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18“But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
1) Two of the managers were diligent. The one with five talents and the slave with two talents went to work investing, trading, wheeling and dealing, and through their skills were able to double the respective amounts they had each been given. The third servant, given the single talent, simply buried the money in the ground. In those days that was a common practice to insure the safekeeping of valuables. Let’s read the next verse.
19“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came* and settled* accounts with them.
1) In our business world, we settle accounts at the end of the month, the quarter and the physical year. Whether this is a quarterly report or annual report, the parable does not say, but what it does say is that the owner returned to settle the accounts. God does not always settle his accounts in the time frame that we feel is appropriate, but one day, He will settle his accounts. That’s the message that Jesus is teaching here.
2) Each of the three servants is called to account for the funds to which he had been entrusted at the time of the owner’s departure. The first two workers doubled their investment and received the owners praise.
20“The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’