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Just dropping by ... The Parable of the Talents

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairyman Published on 23 February 2018

I have often puzzled over the Parable of the Talents, as told by Jesus. I was taught it is a story about developing our physical talents – playing the piano, singing, writing, public speaking, etc. – but lately I realized it is much more. It is a parable about stewardship and taking care of our God-given blessings as well.

One of those blessings is money. Yes, a talent in ancient times meant money, but this is not a surface parable.

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For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.(Matthew 25:14-15 KJV)

In modern language, a rich man called his servants and gave them money. He considered what kind of servants they had been and doled out the money accordingly. The first he gave five pieces of money, the next he gave two pieces of money, and the last he gave one and left on his journey.

Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. (Verse 16)

In other words, the servant with five talents went to work, made some trades and doubled his money.

And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.(Verse 17)

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The second servant doubled his money.

But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.(Verse 18)

The last servant hid the money in the ground.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.(Verse 19)

The lord of the servants returned and called for an accounting.

And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.(Verses 20-21)

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The servant told the lord he had doubled his money, and the lord was pleased. Because he had been wise with his money, the lord gave the servant greater responsibility in his kingdom by making him a ruler over many things. In addition, the lord promised him joy.

He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.(Verses 22-23)

The second servant was likewise rewarded with greater responsibility in the kingdom and was promised joy with the lord.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.(Verses 24-30)

The last servant did not fare as well as his fellow servants. His excuse that the lord was a strict master who used every opportunity to expand his wealth did not hold up. He was chastised for not, at least, putting the money in the bank where it would have gained interest. In short, the servant was cast out of the kingdom as an unprofitable servant where he was promised misery.

I have often wondered why the lord gave the one talent that belonged to the unwise servant to the servant who had ten talents instead of the one who had four talents? In our modern view of the world, that is like big corporations taking money from the poor and the middle class being left out altogether. That isn’t a bit fair.

I heard a successful CEO of a large company say, “If I lost everything, it wouldn’t take me long to gain it all back.” He had learned the principles of success and he knew how to implement them for his benefit. The servant who had gained the five more talents worked just as hard to double his five talents as did the servant who had doubled two.

The first servant could have stopped when he gained six talents or even after seven, eight and so on, but he did not give up until he had doubled all of them. I suspect the last talent he traded was much easier than the first because he had learned success principles in the process.

The servant with two talents could have persevered to gain more talents after he had doubled his two talents, but he didn’t pursue it for whatever reason. He was content with his success.

The lord of the servants could see by the drive and determination of the servants which would make better use of the slothful servant’s talent.

When I think of our current structure in America, I can’t help but see the parallels in Jesus’ parable. The corporations are like the first servant. The founder of the company has an idea or a dream and will not let it go until it is successful. He/she goes through every trial and pitfall with the determination to rise again and again.

Learning from every mistake, eventually he/she is successful and stands at the head of his/her multimillion dollar company. He/she knows the ladder and each principle of success that leads to victory.

The second servant is like many of us who are content to live in our comfort zones, quietly waiting and wondering why we are not more successful. For whatever reason, we stay in our rut, content to live from paycheck to paycheck. We never go bankrupt; we have money to pay for the things we want, and if we are given more money, we find a quick way to spend it.

The Lord is not displeased with us. We are making an effort to make a good life, but the Lord is not going to give us more if we are comfortably content with what we already have.

Now there are as many reasons for being poor as there are poor people in America. I am not talking about the disabled, the aged, the widows and the orphans who, through no fault of their own, find themselves dependent on welfare for survival. They are not like the slothful servant who was not willing to do anything but bury the money and the opportunity his master had given him.

The unwise servant was fearful to step out of the comfort zone to take advantage of the great possibilities the American Dream affords. It is easier to allow others to pay the way.

These unwise stewards see themselves as victims of an austere, greedy, unyielding society that continues to punish them unfairly and rewards the rich with more than they deserve. Politicians of this mindset cry that the rich should spread their wealth around.

Sadly, even if the rich did share their wealth and gave it all away, the poor would still be poor and the rich would get rich again. Why? It has to do with stewardship and work ethic.

We either learn the principles that govern success and implement them or we don’t. If we learn them, we will spend our life in joy reaping the rewards of our labor. If we don’t, we will spend our days in misery wishing for something we will never have because we are not willing to pay the price.  end mark

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