Settling accounts (part 3)
As Jesus’ time on earth was coming to a conclusion, He took His disciples aside and strongly encouraged them to be prepared for His eventual return. As He often did, Jesus stressed His point through a series of parables. In this parable, two slaves did well as they prepared for their master’s return and one slave did not. Last time, we looked at how the two were successful in the eyes of their master. Now, let’s see what happened to the one who did not prepare:
For it is just like a man going on a journey. He called his own slaves and turned over his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; and to another, one – to each according to his own ability. Then he went on a journey. Immediately the man who had received five talents went, put them to work, and earned five more. In the same way the man with two earned two more. But the man who had received one talent went off, 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.
After heaping praise on the two servants who worked their talents to the fullest extent of their ability, the master turned his attention to the last slave. When the time came to settle accounts, the last servant was not prepared…and there was no way to do a last-minute fix. So this servant did what we often do – he tried to shift the blame for his lack of productivity.
Then the man who had received one talent also approached and said, ‘Master, I know you. You’re a difficult man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. Look, you have what is yours.’
As you can imagine, the master was not impressed with the servant’s actions or words.
But his master replied to him, ‘You evil, lazy slave! If you knew that I reap where I haven’t sown and gather where I haven’t scattered, then you should have deposited my money with the bankers. And when I returned I would have received my money back with interest.
If that is what the he truly believed about his master (who had just entrusted him with the equivalent of $720k), the servant could have, at a minimum, put the money in the bank and let the interest compound over the long time the master was on his journey.
The problem with putting it with the bankers is that there would be an official record that the servant had some of the master’s money. It’s possible that the servant wanted the money for himself and his own desires. Perhaps he was hoping the master wouldn’t return, or that one day in the future he could declare to the community that he had “found” this large sum of money buried in a field. Whatever excuse or plan this servant convinced himself with, the master’s promised arrival undid them all. Instead of the praise given to the other two servants, this evil, lazy servant received a harsh rebuke.
So take the talent from him and five it to the one who has 10 talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
When we look at someone who we think God gave more talents to, we tend to get jealous. We often convince ourselves that we should just quit, saying things like: “I’m not the preacher.”, or “I can’t sing like that.”, or “God didn’t give me lots of finances. If He had, I could sure help a lot of people.” None of those self-defeating thoughts help us fulfill the opportunities and mission God gave us. And these excuses for our lack of effort shift the blame back at God, just like the foolish servant did.
God wants us to fully utilize the gifts He gave us, not stew over how well we’d do with someone else’s. Don’t convince yourself that your talents are not valuable enough to make an invested impact. The finances, skills, and abilities you have are specific to you for a reason. If the servant who received just one talent worked and invested like the other two; he certainly would have received the same praise and rewarding from the master.
Don’t hide your talents.