Summary: Every good thing in our lives is a gift from God. We are all accountable for management of the resources God gave us: We either pass or fail.

Undertaker or Risk-Taker?

Matthew 25:14-30

by David O. Dykes


Even though kids are small, that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart. Today’s children are smarter than any previous generation. Children in a Boston school system were asked to write down some of the wisdom they accumulated in their short lives; it’s what I’m calling “Kids’ Wisdom”, and I think it will make you chuckle:

(1) “Never trust your dog to watch your food.” Patrick, age 10

(2) “When your dad is mad and asks you, ‘Do I look stupid?’ Don’t answer.” Hannah, age 9

(3) “Never tell your Mom her diet’s not working.” Michael, age 12

(4) “When your Mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair.” Taylia, age 11

(5) “Never let your three-year-old brother in the same room as your school assignment.” Traci, age 14

(6) “You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.” Amir, age 9

(7) “If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse.” Naomi, age 15

(8) “Permanent felt-tip markers are not good to use as lipstick.” Lauren, age 9

(9) “When you get a bad grade in school, show it to your Mom when she’s on the phone.” Alyesha, age 13

(10) “Never try to baptize a cat.” Eileen, age 8

Today, I want us to study Jesus’ parable of the talents. I want to read it from The Message paraphrase. Matthew 25: 14-30:

Jesus said, “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well! For now on be my partner.’

The servant with two thousands showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well! For now on be my partner.’

The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I could have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’”

In one of Paul Powell’s books, he quoted Dr. Bob Cox as saying that institutions usually go through three stages. They begin as risk takers, then they grow to be caretakers, then they usually end up as undertakers! I’ve never forgotten those words and I want to borrow two of them to entitle this message on the Parable of the Talents. Although there were three different servants in the story, there were only two attitudes. Two of the servants were risk-takers and one of them was an undertaker. When it comes to serving the Lord, which category do you fall into? Let’s learn four important lessons from this powerful parable:


This parable has been confusing to many people because of the word “talents” in the King James Version. To us, the word “talent” means an ability, like a talent to sing. But in the original Greek language, the word talenton referred to a huge sum of money. Some commentators say a talent is 6,000 denaria; one denarius is what a mean would earn in one day, so 6,000 denaria would be 20 years’ income! But this parable is doubly confusing, because it can apply to your abilities, your talents! God has given treasure to every one of His servants. You must realize it is not yours; it is God’s. In the story, the master gave to the servants that which is called “his property.”

Again, let me remind you that every good thing you have in your life came as a gift from God: your money, your abilities, your family, your intelligence, your friends, your house, your car–it’s no really yours, it all belongs to God!

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