Matthew 25:14-30

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the 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 bags of gold. Some translations use the word “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).

And, perhaps more importantly, keep the final verdict in mind as well. We don’t want to be consigned to a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

May the Spirit be with you.

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