How about you?
By Patrick G Howard
Jesus loved to teach in parables. One of my favorites is The Parable of the Talents, also known as the Parable of the Three Servants. I like this parable, because it teaches us multiple lessons with one simple story.
In this parable, the master was about to depart on a long trip. We don’t really know how long, but that’s not important. What is important is that the master entrusted his wealth to three of his servants. Based on their abilities, the master divided eight bags of silver among the servants – one receiving five bags, another receiving two and the last receiving one.
When the master returned, the servant who received five bags had invested it wisely and doubled the master’s wealth into ten bags. Likewise, the servant who received two bags worked hard and doubled the silver that he was entrusted with, returning four bags to the master. But the servant who was given one bag of silver was lazy. He merely dug a hole and buried his silver, and on his master’s return, only had the original bag.
The master’s reaction to the lazy servant is our focus this month.
Matthew 25: 28-29 ~ (28) “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. (29) To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.’”
The master was angry, to say the least, but have you ever really thought about what the lazy servant cost him? To fully understand the parable, it is helpful to know what a talent is.
A talent was a unit of weight, approximately 80 pounds. When used as currency, a talent was roughly equal to 6,000 denarii. One denarius was the customary pay rate for a day’s work, so a talent would have been equal to 20 years of labor for the average person. Putting that into 2018 dollars, at minimum wage, a talent would equal about $300,000. Each of the bags of silver given to the servants weighed one talent.
This was a big deal. The master was so disgusted by the inaction of the lazy servant, that he took the only talent from him and gave it to the one who already had ten.
Today we use talent to mean something completely different. Today, it means something more akin to aptitude, or ability. No matter how we use the word, the lessons we can learn from this parable are the same.
Here are seven lessons we can learn from The Parable of the Talents.
- God always provides everything we need to do His work here on earth.
Each of the servants had everything they needed to accomplish their master’s plan. Two of the servants used their talents faithfully, but one hid his in fear. It is not always easy to follow God’s plan for you, but if we allow fear to take over, we will be lulled into inaction like the lazy servant.
- We work to please our Master, not to satisfy our own selfish pleasure.
The parable shows that the money given to the servants was not theirs, but rather it belonged to their master. Similarly, all our talents come from God, and we should use them for His glory and honor.
- We are not all created with the same skills and abilities.
In the parable, each servant was given talents according to their ability. Such is life. Our society has become conditioned to think that we all deserve to receive the same benefits regardless of our level of effort. However, we are born with different talents; and our success is measured by how well we put our unique talents to use.
- Success only occurs when we act.
While each of the servants had the same opportunity to be wise with the master’s silver they were entrusted with, only two of them chose to do something with their talents. They were rewarded for their efforts. The one servant who did nothing was stripped of his talent, and it was given to the one with the most.
- When we are given a talent, we must use it.
Just as in the parable, when we choose to let our own talents go dormant, we lose them. We are only given our gifts for a season. If we don’t cultivate them and help them grow, our ability withers away and becomes unusable.
- Success begets more success.
We have all seen it happen, just as in the parable. We have seen that guy that has everything – the great job, the corner office, the shiny car (or pickup), the one who consistently shoots below par with his custom Pings posting pictures from that golf course in Playa del Carmen while you’re at the office working – get the promotion. Instead of coveting that person, become like them. When you are successful, you attract even more success.
- We will be held accountable for our actions (or inactions).
There will be a day of reckoning. When that day comes, do you want to explain why you have wasted your talent and have nothing to show? Or would you prefer to show how you used your talent to achieve God’s plan for your life on earth?
Isn’t it amazing how many lessons we can learn from one simple parable? It’s no wonder that they were one of Jesus’ favorite teaching tools. I imagine that, if we tried, we could come up with even more lessons to learn from this one. However, this feature is not called Lesson of the Month; it is called Focus of the Month. So, let’s take these powerful lessons and work on this simple focus – Don’t bury your talents.
God has given you talents to be used for His glory. These talents can be the monetary type, or they can be the aptitude type. Either way, it is rare that we use all of our God given talents. There is usually something buried, just waiting to be released.
My challenge to you, and our focus this month, is for you to identify one talent that you are not using right now, find a way to dig up God’s buried treasure and use it for His glory. Maybe you don’t know what that talent is. If that’s the case, try this.
If you’re like me, there are times when you see somebody displaying their talent and you wish you could do that. Maybe it is somebody playing a musical instrument or singing, and you wished you could do that. Perhaps you wish you could command a stage like that motivational speaker you saw last week. It could be something as simple as wishing you knew how to use Microsoft Excel like the person in the next cubicle. Whatever that thing you wished you could do is, that desire is God’s way of tapping you on the shoulder and telling you that you have a buried talent that needs to be developed.
Will you become a Microsoft Office whiz? I don’t know. Are you going to be the next Tony Robbins? Somebody will. Are you going to be featured on America’s Got Talent? Maybe.
The point is this.
We all have talent that is left buried. Dig it up and find a way to develop it. Then let God bless it. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish with His help.