We were created to work. God gave Adam and Eve jobs to do, long before Satan ever tempted them. Even after sin entered the picture and our work became hard, we still retained the internal drive to explore, design, create, and produce. However, our sin and selfishness will often cloud our reason and motivation to fulfill our innate urge to work.
Being a Christ follower has an advantage when we deal with the inevitable thistles and thorns of modern-day work. We have perspective. We understand where the work ultimately comes from and Who enables us to accomplish the goal of our labor. However, we might too quickly assume that our efforts are only focused on taking care of our family’s immediate needs. Those responsibilities are important, but have you considered that our work could have even larger implications?
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 this 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. Let’s take a look at how the two were successful in the eyes of their master:
Matthew 25:14-17, 19
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. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
These weren’t small amounts of money, either. If we were handed modern-day lump sums, it would look like this: five talents = $3.6 million, two talents = $1.44 million, one talent = $720,000.
Jesus didn’t say exactly how these two were able to double their master’s investment, but we do know that they worked within their ability and they did so immediately. They weren’t messing around when it came time to work.
However, their results didn’t happen overnight. They didn’t work a get-rich-quick scheme. How do we know this? Because Jesus tells us they settled accounts with their master after a long time had passed. So, what was the master’s reaction?
The man who had received five talents approached, presented five more talents, and said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. Look, I’ve earned five more talents.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!”
Then the man with two talents also approached. He said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. Look, I’ve earned two more talents.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave!’ You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’
Did you notice? Both good servants received the same praise and type of reward. The one with 10 was not praised above the one with 4. The one with 4 was not compared against the one who had 10. The master was overjoyed with their results because each one had worked to their full ability.
So don’t worry that someone else appears to have received more (or even less) talents than you, we are responsible to handle what God has given us. We get tripped up when we start looking around and comparing ourselves against the others around us…and we only see the outer portion of their efforts and struggles.
When we look at someone who we think God gave more talents to, we have a tendency get jealous. However, if we look at someone who appears to have received less talents than we did, it’s easy to look down on them…or wish that we had it “so much easier”.
These two successful servants remind us to keep our focus on the talents God has given to us, and to make sure that we’re investing them properly and for the long haul. It would have seemed like the master was gone for a long time while they were putting in the work, but when the master arrived to settle accounts, every drop of effort was rewarded.
Can you imagine? The Creator of this vast, incredible world – where we still have not exhausted everything to explore, learn, and create – will reward those of us who have been faithful with a few things. Out of His joy, He will reward us with responsibilities, according to our ability, in eternity future.
What will those responsibilities be? I don’t know. But as good as this world is, when God gives out of his joy, you can trust it will be incredible.
So, let’s get to work with the talents we have. Immediately.