Summary: This is a sermon that encourages the church to reach out and to risk.
The Parable of the Talents
14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To 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. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
21"His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22"The man with the two talents also came. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
23"His master replied, ’Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. ’Master,’ he said, ’I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26"His master replied, ’You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28" ’Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“What Kind of Return Will We Get on Our Dollar?”
1. What have we been given?
Once upon a time, following an exceptional stewardship drive… everyone in the church was inspired to use their talents for the ministry of the church. One man in particular went to his pastor and said, “Reverend, I only have one talent.” The pastor asked, “What’s your talent? The man said, "I have the gift of criticism." The pastor thought about this… and finally replied, "You know… the Bible says that the guy who had only one talent went out and buried it."
But seriously… I hope you all know by now how important I think it is for every single one of us to know the talents that God has bestowed upon us and how every single one of us is called to serve in ministry using those talents. Today’s scripture does a phenomenal job of reinforcing that.
Right on the heals of our scripture text last week about keeping our lamps lit... is this odd little parable of a master with three servants. Now, there is a lot of odd stuff going on in this parable… like how each servant is not given the same amount. You would think that Jesus would say something along the lines of how we are all given equal talents and equal gifts… but he doesn’t… each servant gets a different amount. However… you will also notice no servant is left out… everyone gets a talent… but not everyone gets the same!
After some serious thought about this, I guess… in a very strange way this makes sense. We are not all the same and we are not all in the same place. We all have different talents and different callings, and we all are at different places along our Christian journey and are ready for different things at different times. I think the lesson to be learned in this little tidbit is that the master never gives his servants more than they can handle. God will never charge you with more than you can deal with or more than you are ready for!
Now… before we move on there is one more odd little detail that needs to be worked out… one might think that because the third servant only got one talent he in some way was slighted. But you have to understand what a talent in this story represents… a talent was worth about 20 years wages for a laborer. Or… to put a dollar amount on it… a single talent would be close to $400,000 dollars in today’s money. So it is hard for anyone to say that the servant who only got one talent… really didn’t get much! Jesus uses an insane amount of money to represent just how precious God’s gift to each of us is… and how important we are take them! Whether you are trusted with five talents or one… it is a huge gift we are given.