The parable of the talents: Trials are talents, too
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus tells about a master who gave each of his servants a different number of talents (a sum of money) to look after. The intention was that they should gain a profit for the master with what had been entrusted them.
The talents in the parable are generally said to be our abilities and strong points, like when we say that somebody is very talented. But the talents also represent the circumstances God has given me in life, opportunities where I can carry out God’s will.
Now I must see myself and my life through God’s eyes: Why did He give me this body? This personality? These abilities? This family? These circumstances? Can I see that they are talents that have been entrusted to me?and hardships, or good times and prosperity are all opportunities that God has entrusted to me personally! In fact, in God’s eyes, many challenges mean I have been given many talents; many trials mean I am very talented! And I am the only one who can carry out these tasks, because my set of circumstances is completely unique according to God’s purpose.
God trusts me to use these possibilities to come to development and growth and gain eternal content, and He has given me the tools to do so. If I am willing, God gives me His Word to teach me what to do, and the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to carry it out. Jesus has gone ahead as a forerunner to show me the way. In each situation, with each talent I have been given, God’s name can be glorified (like Jesus did in John 12:27-28), God’s will can be done (like Jesus did in Luke 22:42), and I can gain an “eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
Giving account for the talents I have been given
In the parable, the servants had to give account for the talents entrusted to them. Two of them had managed them wisely, so they had gained a profit. This can be compared to using my circumstances to gain eternal riches. God’s investment in me is that He has given me a body, and circumstances where I can do His will. The profit He expects in return is thatis eradicated piece by piece in my life, and that it is replaced with a new creation: virtues, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), eternal life (John 12:25; Romans 2:6-7), and above all, that through all these things, God is glorified by my body and my situations.
The master praised the first two servants, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
However, the third servant, who had received one talent, had hidden it in the ground and had nothing to show for what had been given in his care. The master was very displeased with him, calling him wicked and lazy, and saying, “… take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This can seem harsh and unfair. After all, he had been given the least talents of all three servants, and he gave back what he had received, didn’t he? But the point was that he hadn’t used the talent he had been given; he was lazy and not willing to do any work. Not only had he not made a profit, but the talent was probably damaged and rotten from being buried in the ground. The master’s judgment was absolutely just and fair.
Using or burying the talents I have been given
Talents can vary. Say I am very good at something. Do I use those abilities to bless others, to do the good, to help and lead the way in the good? Or do I “bury” them by using them on myself, for my own gain? Say I am experiencing trials like sickness, financial hardship or being misunderstood and backbitten. Do I use them to overcome the grumbling, doubt, discouragement etc. that almost always arises from the sin in my? Do I recognize the opportunity as a unique talent, which I can “manage” to gain fruit of the Spirit like thankfulness, faith, joy etc., or do I “bury” it by giving in and not gaining anything of eternal worth in the ?
Life lessons from the parable of the talents
I am in the same position as the unprofitable servant if I have gained nothing from the situations God has given me, no matter what those circumstances are. In fact, doing “nothing” is the same as allowing my natural tendency to sin to fester and grow, so the end is worse than the start.
But now I can do something with the opportunities and grace God has given me. The result of my circumstances, great or small, long or short, heavy or light, should always be that something of eternal value has been created: where there was impatience, there is now patience; where there was ingratitude, there is now thankfulness; where I had trouble bearing the others, there is now love; where I was weak, I have become strong.
Then I will hear those wonderful words from the mouth of my Master, whom I have served all my life: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
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You can read the whole parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.