Today’s reading: Matthew 25:14-30
The parable of the talents is always a little difficult for me. It seems in-congruent. The one who is given much gets even more. The one who is given little gets punished severely. At first, it doesn’t seem fair and I always feel badly for the one who had little and yet was still punished. He was afraid and didn’t know what to do with his little bit. He had very little room for error so he plays it safe. Forgiveness seems appropriate but he is still punished. Why is that?
Of course the parable of the talents is a metaphor for our journey through life. Talents were coins, units of money. However, it is fitting that to our modern ears we hear the word “talents” as “skills”. In the parable the good servants use the talents and double them for the master. The point of the parable is that we must all use the unique skills God has given us for the glory of God. What is particularly interesting is that even though servants who doubled their talents seem to have done a great job, the master (God) still considers it a “small matter”.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. ‘
So now that the servant has done well with a small matter (the doubling of his talents), he will be given larger and more important responsibilities. In other words, while we are duty bound to be productive in this life, it’s a small matter compared to the next.
What of the servant who buried the talent in the ground and returned it to the master with no increase? Notice what the master says to him:
Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
It would have been a simple matter to have put the talent in the bank and earned a little interest. The master implies that even this would have been sufficient to avoid punishment. The master prefers everyone to double their talents but he will not punish you even if you do only the bear minimum. The servant is only punished because he hides his talent from the world. He shares it with no one. He doesn’t use it to improve anyone’s life. Had the servant given it to the bank, it would have been lent again and used by someone who needed it, helping them and profiting the master. In life, if we shut ourselves up and don’t share our lives with others we are like the talent buried in the ground. Get up, get out, do something, even if it is only a little.
Tomorrow: Matthew 25:31-46