For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Matthew 25:14-18)
Jesus told this parable at the end of his earthly life, and if we had to summarize it, we could say that it is about assets, abilities and action. First, the master gives an enormous sum of money to each servant. Many New Testament commentators as well as historians place a value of a talent around 20 years’ worth of wages. The first servant received five times that amount, the second servant received two times and the third servant one. Thus, the master is loaded. He has tons of moolah, denaro, bills and dividends. We might even say that he owns “…the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50.10).
Second, the master gives to each one according to his ability. The master was not a socialist—the servants did not receive the same amount. The Greek word for abilities is ???????, which means dynamite or power or capability. The master knew each person’s ability. The Psalmist says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139.13). The Master electrician knows how he has wired you.
Third, the servants have to respond to the master’s gracious gift. They have to take action. The first servant was given five and he made five more. The second servant was given two and he made two more. The third servant was given one and he buried it in the ground.
Simply put, use it or lose. God designed us to be productive, Christian Capitalist. Some people are risk-oblivious and some people are risk-adverse. Some people are full steam ahead and some people are fearful.
What is Jesus doing in this parable? He reminds us that he has given his assets to us according to our abilities. But he demands of us to be high octane and highly productive with the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28.19). He did not say, “Sit! Stay! Bite your fingernails off in fear. Be frozen in fear!” No way! Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1.8). You have power. Paul told timid Timothy, “…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1.7). Fear is not a fruit of the Spirit.
Are you willing to take a few risks in this life for the forward advancement of the gospel? The risk is worth the reward. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…” (Matthew 5.12).