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UCG IA Bible Insights Thursday, July 14 2022

The parable of the talents: Will you use what God has given?

Jesus gave His disciples the mission of taking the gospel message to the world (Matthew 24:14 and 28:18-20). He demonstrated the approach they should have by the parable of the talents, when He compared His followers to servants who had been entrusted with fabulous wealth in order to create an increase in the absence of their master.

The parable of the talents: Will you use what God has given?
Illustration of the first servant being given five talents to manage. A talent was a lot of money, worth around a million dollars today. © Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org
by Darris McNeely

On three occasions Jesus related parables of stewardship using variations of a master leaving his servants to take care of his business. The first was when He was approaching Jerusalem before His crucifixion. The crowds were thinking He was going to restore the kingdom of Israel immediately. Instead, He spoke a parable of a man going into a far country and leaving his servants a sum of money with the instruction “Do business till I come” (Luke 19:11-13).

In His prophecy of future events on the Mount of Olives, Jesus told two similar parables to emphasize the Kingdom was not coming in the near future, and there was work to be done in preparation. In Matthew chapters 24 and 25, the picture of servants being left with responsibility is set within the prophecies of the end of the age and highlights the fact the delay would test the unity and love of the disciples.

In the first parable here, which is the second of the three stewardship parables, an evil servant loses sight of his duty and abuses fellow disciples until halted by the unexpected return of the master (Matthew 24:45-51).

The third version of this parable comes at the end of the same discourse in Matthew 25, and is known as the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). In it, Jesus teaches that disciples carry a responsibility, and can anticipate a reward based on what he or she does with God’s calling and the gift of His Holy Spirit. It helps us understand what a disciple is to be doing now in anticipation of Christ’s return.

Christ begins the parable of the talents by saying: “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey” (verses 14-15).The master here has entrusted his goods, his estate, to the care of servants. The talents are a large sum of money, each equivalent to around $1.5 million by today’s values.

The parable goes on, “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money” (verses 17-18). The first two servants double what is given them (verses 19-23), understanding the master wanted to see many others benefit from the fruit of their labor.

The third servant buried the money in the ground to keep the money safe, “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours’” (verses 24-25).The words of the unprofitable servant reveal a distant and distorted view of his master, and the master’s response is a warning to us (verses 26-30).

Jesus told His disciples shortly before His crucifixion, “... you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth’” (Acts 1:8). The disciples of Jesus have been and still are given what they need to carry out the tasks they’ve been called to. God bestows talents with an expectation of increase. Those who understand our life is a preparation for the age to come will use the gift of the Spirit given by God and their blessings and abilities to grow in serving God and helping others, preparing for Christ’s return (Revelation 20:4,6).