Summary: God wants you to overcome your fear and guilt be productive.
Let’s recall two familiar verses from the Book of Genesis; 1:28 and 3:10. First we will examine Genesis 1:28. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” In Genesis 1:28 God commands, ordains his created being called man to execute five actions and instills in him the potential to accomplish each one. The five actions are; be fruitful (grow), multiply, replenish (fill), subdue (dominate), have dominion (control, govern).
It is interesting that 4/5 or 80% of what God first ordained us to do deals with producing, bringing into existence, giving rise to, leading. What does it mean to produce? The word produce is a compound word consisting of the prefix pro (forward) and the root word duce (bring, lead). So produce is to bring forth, lead, and bring into existence. Productivity is the ability to produce. I submit to you that God ordained us to be producers
Adam and Eve were to produce or bring forth into existence results from what God had given them, THE EARTH. However, something caused a stoppage an interruption of Adam and Eve’s production. Their disobedience to God’s command, “don’t eat from the tree” put them on a path of static potential. After Adam sinned we see in chapter 3 of Genesis a very dismal yet important indication of their demise. Here’s what Genesis 3:10 states; 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” After being endowed with the potential to produce anything we find Adam confessing something unheard of at that time. Adam confesses he was afraid of God. Adam’s sin had made him afraid of God. Adam says I heard you coming and I saw I was naked and I became afraid of you.
So what does it mean to be afraid? For Adam afraid meant one of two possible things; A) the emotional and intellectual anticipation of harm, what one feels may go wrong for him. B) A very positive feeling of awe or reverence for God, which may be expressed in piety or formal worship. In this context the former of the two is implied. Adam was afraid of what God was going to do to him. Adam feared punishment from God. That fear of punishment caused Adam to hide. Take note here that from the moment Adam and Eve hid themselves their productivity began to decrease.
There is a Japanese proverb that says “fear is only as deep as the mind allows”. Psalms 55:2 says “It’s my own thoughts that are troubling me”. In other words Adam’s fear was all in his mind. But it was so strong in his mind that he became non-productive and hid behind the cover of fig leaves and trees. Adam based his fear on the fact that he was naked, bare, stripped of his glory, his divine weight. Adam says to God “I no longer had what it takes to be what you called me to be so I have decided to hide”. God asks Adam who told you, you were naked. Who told you, you don’t have what it takes. In other words you did not get this from the original source. And someone today can understand what Adam was going through because life, family, friends, or church have caused you to hide; made you feel bare and God is saying to you who told you, you were naked. Fear has crippled your productivity. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in his First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933 “The only thing we have to fear is fear it’ self--nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Fear keeps you from advancing.
So in our text today we find three servants each given some weight, talents, money. The businessman has left and entrusted these persons whom he considered most dependable and prudent of his servants with his business. The talents could be valued at roughly five talents - $50,000, two talents -$20,000 and one talent - $10,000. It was not uncommon for wealthy businessman to give control and multiplication of their wealth to trained accountants who could be free persons or slaves. With sufficient capital one could invest it at a profit, i.e. lend it to moneychangers and get a share of the profit. The safest and least profitable way of protecting money was to bury it in the ground. Doubling one’s investment was normal and the servants should have been able to accomplish this.
The Businessman returns home and receives the report of the first two with joy. “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ The servant says I was not productive because I was afraid to use the talent, the weight, the glory you gave me.