“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Let me summarize the story in a few words. A man goes away. He leaves his servants with talents: he gives five to one, two to another, and one to a third. The first two servants double what they had been given, but the third buries his talent in the ground. The master returns, and is very pleased with the first two servants, whom he rewards. But he gets furious with the third. He gives his talent to the first servant, then chucks the servant into the darkness where, to quote Jesus, “there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
To the seeker of the truth there are a lot of questions that crop up here. Why, for instance, the unequal distribution of talents? Well, for one, the talents are the owner’s to give, and up to him to choose how he wants to distribute them. Right? He also, undoubtedly, saw the capabilities of each servant and gave accordingly, hoping that each of them would do the best with what they were given.
Another question is why take the talent from the servant who did nothing with it and give it to the first servant and not the second. After all both showed they could be trusted. Again, it is the owner’s prerogative to decide what he wants to do with what is his. But using the same reasoning as with the previous question, the first servant showed that he was extremely capable of handling a big load, so an additional burden would not have been too taxing. Besides, the second servant **was** given more responsibilities.
A third question—and this is really the interesting one—why didn’t the third servant do something with the one talent that he had been given? Why did he bury it? I believe it is because he was jealous that the other two had received more than he had. So, out of spite and resentment, he did nothing. Big mistake. I have said this before in past reflections, but it is something worth repeating. When we look at the blessings that others have received, we lose sight of our own.
We are like the servants in this story who have been blessed with gifts from God. They are not for our pleasure or profit; they are intended to be used in the service of God. Are we using them wisely? Or are we wasting them? Please remember that there is going to be a reckoning. Even as we reflect upon this, a word of encouragement to those who think they have received too little in comparison with others. Keep this promise of Jesus in mind: “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much” (Luke 16:10).
Consequently, to everyone who has more will be given and he will grow rich. May you grow very rich with the things of God.