Summary: Parable of the talants. reaching potential

The Talented Mr. Ripley, Matthew 25:14-30

Eric A. Snyder, Minister, Farwell Church of Christ

January 5, 2003

“Novelist H.G. Wells said that wealth, notoriety, place, and power are no measures of success whatsoever. The only true measure of success is the ratio between what we might have been and what we have become. In other words, success comes as the result of growing to our potential.”

John Maxwell, The Success Journey, p. 14

Reaching your potential is part of the secret of success. God has invested substantially into your life. Whether or not you bring a return is dependent on growing in your potential.

Bernard Shaw shortly before he died was asked by a reporter "Mr. Shaw," "if you could live your life over and be anybody you’ve know, or any person from history, who would you be?" "I would choose," replied Shaw "to be the man George Bernard Shaw could have been, but never was."

Please don’t misunderstand me. You will never arrive at a place where you’ve reached your fullest potential. It’s more of a journey than a final destination. What were going to look at this morning are some steps for reaching your potential on a daily, ongoing basis.


If you missed last week’s message, I encourage you to go get a copy from the bookstore. You can only reach your potential when you’ve determined the specific direction that you life will take. The first step in pursuing your potential is …

1. Know your life’s purpose.

We’re going to follow one of Jesus’ parables to figure out how to pursue out potential. On this occasion Jesus was teaching his followers about how the nation of Israel had dropped the ball in reaching its potential. God called that nation to greatness. They were to be a light to the world. They had the potential to influence other nations and lead them out of false religion to the true God. Israel was unsuccessful. Although God had clearly communicated his purpose for them, the Jewish people never reached their potential. Because of Israel’s failure, God was about to hand the task over to a new group of people who would accomplish this purpose. To illustrate Israel’s failure and his new community how to reach its potential, Jesus told this parable.

Matthew 25:14 "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.”

A successful CEO was leaving for a very important business tirp overseas. He arranged for his brother to watch his cat. He was very fond of the cat and couldn’t bear to leave it at the vet while he was gone.

An hour before the meeting, he called his brother to check in on his beloved pet.

"How is my cat?" he asked his brother.

His brother replied "It’s dead".

Angry at his brother, he yelled over the phone.

"How could you break the news to me like that. I am going to one of the most important meetings in my career and I can’t even concentrate.

His brother asked "Well, how should I have told you?"

The businessman replied "You could have broken the news to me gently. First you could have said "The cat’s on the roof, and we can’t get it down." Then you could have said "It fell off the roof, we are on standby at the vet", and "The cat’s condition is pretty grim". Finally, you could have said "The cat died peacefully in my arms".

The businessman took a deep breath, trying to control his anger and asked, "By the way, how’s Mom?"

"She’s on the roof and we can’t get her down."

God has entrusted everyone here with some kind of talent.

The practice Jesus described here was common in the ancient world. Typically, wealthy landowners would entrust their brightest slaves with oversight of their finances. That’s the case in this story. It would have been crystal clear to the slaves that their task was to be good stewards of their master’s money. They were expected to bring a return on what had been handed over to them.

The same is true with all of us. God has invested large amounts of talents, abilities, time, experiences and resources in our lives. He wants to see a return on his investment. That means that we pursue the potential he’s already placed within us. We do that when we understand our unique purpose for being on this earth.

In this story, the slaves knew their purpose: bring back the best return possible on their master’s money. I want you to notice, however, that he wasn’t asking for perfection. He distributed the gold according to ability. Greater responsibility was given to the slave with the greatest ability. We can assume that he’d already proved himself a good financial manager.

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