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Parable of the Talents Explained: Know True Meaning

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Parable of the Talents

The Parable of the Talents is one of the well known parables of Jesus Christ. The parable found in Matthew 25:14-30 is an analogy of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like. It tells of a master who was leaving his home to travel, and before going he entrusted his possessions worth 8 talents to his servants. A talent was a measurement of weight, usually in silver.

One talent was a large sum of money worth about 6,000 denarii. Since one denarius was the usual payment for a day's labor, a talent was roughly the value of twenty years of work by an ordinary person. One talent is worth roughly $500,000 in today’s USA currency.

Jesus used a large sum of money when describing the Kingdom of God to outline the extreme worth of what Jesus will someday entrust to his faithful disciples. One servant receives five talents, the second two talents, and the third one talent, according to their respective abilities. Returning after a long absence, the master asks his servants for an accounting. The first two servants explain that they have each put their money to work and doubled the value of the property they were entrusted with, and so they are each rewarded. The last servant did nothing with his talent except keep it safe by hiding it away. He was not rewarded for his effort but punished in a rather harsh manner.

The parable of the talents is considered to be an exhortation to Jesus' disciples to use their God-given gifts in the service of God, and to take risks for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Failure to use one's gifts, the parable suggests, will result in severe judgment.

Let's take a closer look at Matthew 25:14-30:

14 “For it [the kingdom of heaven] is just like a man about to go on a journey, [in this example Jesus is referring to his impending death and ascension] who called his own servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
15 “To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.

[Reading between the lines, it’s clear that when we increase our ability, God will increase the amount He gives to us.]

16 “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them [in honest business dealings], and gained five more talents.
17 “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.
18 “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.”
19 “Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. [Referring to Christ’s imminent future return]
20 “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’
21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’
23 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. [Basically calling him a thief]
25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

[Wait a minute... does that accurately describe Jesus? No it does not. In the parable, do the other two servants think of their master in this way? No, they don't. Something is wrong here. Obviously this particular servant does not know his master very well. As such, the servant has no idea exactly what is expected of him in his duties to his master.]

26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy servant, you knew [or thought you knew] that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.
27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
30 “Throw out the worthless servant into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Commentary on the Parable of Talents

Even though God forbids charging interest to fellow Israelites, (Exodus 22:25, Leviticus 25:36 and Deuteronomy 23:20) therefore gaining interest would be bad unless earned from strangers, meaning non-Jews, this servant is considered evil and unworthy on two counts:

  1. He did not know his master’s heart or his will, actually having the wrong impression of him thinking him to be a dishonest thief- and
  2. He didn’t even do the minimum amount of what he “thought” would have been right by gaining interest on it.

The servant HAD 1 talent. He didn’t do with it what he should have. So it was taken away from him and given to someone who does know what to do with it. Now he has no talents. In trying to preserve the one he had, he lost it anyway. AND he lost his placement in his masters’ household.

What lesson can we learn from this parable?

Our God is a god of growth. Everything he entrusts to us we are to return back many fold through honest dealings. Simply hiding it away and saving it, so it does nothing good for anyone is considered by God to be lazy and evil. This is a hard core lesson to learn. Playing it safe with God will not be rewarded. If you follow this path like the servant with one talent did, then when Christ comes back you will be stripped of your power and your possessions and you will be thrown out of God’s kingdom as a wicked and lazy servant!

Take a moment to think about that.

God rewards the go-getters and the risk takers. Are you using everything you have that God has given you to its fullest potential or are you digging holes and burying it? Doing nothing else but keeping it intact, hidden safely away where it does no good work for anyone? Only two individuals can answer that question about your true level of righteous involvement; you and God.

As a born again Christian, you’ve been given power and authority to do the good work of your Lord Christ Jesus. It’s your job to know him AND know what is expected or you, and then do it! Don’t worry about making mistakes, you’ll learn as you go. We are living what’s known as “on the job” training. By doing what you think is right, you will gain favor from Jesus and from God. By knowing what is right and doing what is expected of you, when Jesus comes back he will put you in charge of many things and allow you to enter into the joy of God’s kingdom.

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