Wasted Talents

Wasted Talents

So, Jesus tells a story.

It’s a story about a “man” [hint: the “man” is Jesus Himself] who’s going away for a time, but is coming back. He calls His servants and entrusts to them a certain amount of money that he expects them to invest on his behalf while he’s away. To one he gives five “talents,” to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability to manage it.

A “talent” in the Bible is not the ability to whistle God Bless America while juggling flaming bowling pins and standing on one leg atop a unicycle. Of course, that’s a talent! And AWESOME talent, too! But the talent Jesus was talking about here was a ‘talent of money,’ a certain amount of silver. And, as it turns out, a talent was A LOT of money. A single talent, according to some scholars, was equal to 20 years of wages for a common worker. That’s a LOT of cabbage, as they say in the grocery business!

Anyway, the “man” is going away for a while [remember: Jesus is the MAN], and he wants to keep his money growing. So, he gave it to his “servants” [Hint: us] to invest on his behalf while he is away.

So, here’s what the three servants in the story did: “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 25:16-18).

Oh well, that’s OK, I guess. Unless, of course, the “man” ACTUALLY COMES BACK and requires and accounting of his cabbage! In Jesus’ story, HE DID!

“Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 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.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 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’” (Matthew 25:19-23).

So far, so good. Happy happy happy! But then the master approached the third servant …

“He who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! … [Y]ou ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

Now, here’s the rub: This third servant wasn’t really a believer. He didn’t know His Master at all; he saw him only as “a hard man.” That’s the reason he buried his master’s money rather than invest it: he never really thought he was coming back. And, he figured, ‘When he doesn’t return, since there’s not even a record of it at the bank, all of that $$$ will be mine!’

At the moment of salvation, God the Holy Spirit gave each if us gifts (plural). He expects us to invest those gifts into the Kingdom until the Lord returns. We use them to tell others about Jesus saving love and to invite them to be a part of God’s family. We use them to encourage and serve our brothers and sisters in the difficult journey of life that we share together.

But, don’t miss this: God DOES expect us to use them and not bury them! And, by the way, He IS COMING BACK (soon)!’


To consider:

  • Take inventory of your spiritual gifts. Are you faithfully using them in the Lord’s service? If not, why not?
  • There are many reasons why we might dishonor the “talents” that the Lord has given us. Distraction. Lack of understanding. Fear even. Or, perhaps most troubling of all, unbelief. Is it possible that while you’re saved and belong to the Lord, your living in practical unbelief – denying by your very life that He truly is coming back. The Apostle John was speaking to believers when he wrote, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28). This is a sobering thought indeed!
  • Finally, if you are exercising poor stewardship of your spiritual gifts, what will you do beginning today to change that?

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  1. This is one of my favorite portions of Scripture. There are so many spiritual principles going on here that I could read it and re read it several times to try and unpack it all. Today I was thinking of the phrase, “Enter into the joy of your reward.” How amazing that day will be when we are judged by the master and rewarded as it says in 1Cor chapter 3. I think many of us will be surprised and awestruck by the reward that God has planned for us.

    • It appears to me that we have all been given talents! Fact number one, no more can I make or use the excuse I have nothing. Fact two, God has created us all unigue, of all His creation both big and small only man was made with the ability to receive and contain God. Now just for starters put those two together, created to contain the very essence of God and than given talents by God what is there left for me to do? I find myself without excuse! But to one believe God’s Word and surrender to His will, and like Isaiah say ‘Here am I Lord, send me’. I think of the hand and glove illustration where I am the glove and God is the hand, a willing and surrendered glove in the hands of God! Wow! can do anything!
      For too long I have believed the lie, that I have no talents! Oh Lord May you awaken us to the fact that we have talents and Lord grand us the heart to invest them to the building of your church.

  2. I think Bob is right. I think many will be surprised by the reward that God has planned for us. I also think there will be unclaimed rewards. There are opportunities everyday to use our talents- mercy, hospitality, teaching, serving, etc. When we choose not to utilize these things, we are forfeiting rewards. I read this illustration today (Disclaimer – I don’t know anything about the author, but thought the illustration was good):

    Imagine a WWII soldier, wounded while courageously rescuing his fellow soldiers. When he returned home, he was rewarded with the Medal of Honor for his service. What had motivated him to put his life in danger? He risked his life to save his friends’ lives and defend his country’s freedom. When his life was at stake in battle, he wasn’t thinking “I’m going to put my life in jeopardy so that I will receive a medal.” The reward was simply the nation’s way of showing appreciation for his heroic actions.
    In the same way, we serve God because we love Him and our fellow man. We don’t serve for the reward, but for the Lord. “We make it our aim to please Him” (2 Cor. 5:9). Rewards are simply God’s way of showing that He is pleased with our lives. He could have kept the truth about eternal rewards a big secret to be revealed to all on Judgment Day. Instead, He specifically told us some things we do now will be rewarded in the next life. (Kent Crockett, Making Today Count for Eternity, Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2001, pp. 66-67)

    When we change a diaper, give to the homeless, visit the sick, cook the dinner, be kind to the unkind, forgive sins against us…it all using our gifts to serve others. Pleasing God and hearing Him say “well done…” is reward enough. But He tells us we have rewards in heaven. They are already ours. Just keep “aiming to please” the Lord. He’ll take care of the rest.

  3. I am thankful that here at Harvest we are not pressured or expected to perform outside our talents. As a Christian for over 33 years I feel at times inadequate when it comes to identifying what mine are. Is it wrong to want one that I don’t have? To be relieved I was given a pass on ones that I don’t want? Is it possible to have a talent that is temporary until someone else joins our church family; that was given that gift?
    Like in a previous blog we were reminded that Jesus asked us to pray for workers, for the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the field.Due to my questions in identifying my gifts, I pray that I am not the worker that was prayed for and sent, and is now sitting back dishonoring the work that was given for me to do.

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