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Matthew 25:14-29 1
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 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. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 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.’ 21 “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!’ 22 “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.’ 23 “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!’ 24 “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. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ 26 “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? 27 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. 28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 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.

Background

These verses in Matthew are commonly called The Parable of the Talents. First, we need to establish a relative value for a “bag of gold,” the term used in this version of the Bible. In a translation of Matthew from the King James Version, the term is defined as a “talent.” A Talent was not a coin but an ancient unit of measurement for weighing gold and silver. Therefore its value obviously depended on whether the coinage involved was copper, gold or sliver.The talent was the heaviest or largest biblical unit of measurement for weight, equal to about 75 pounds or 35 kilograms and in gold, was worth about 20 years of a day laborer’s wage.

In this parable, most of the attention is typically focused on the useless servant. There is little doubt that this servant stood for the Scribes and the Pharisees, and for their attitude about the Law and the truth of God. The useless servant buried his talent in the ground, in order that he might hand it back to his master exactly as it was. The aim of the Scribes and Pharisees was to keep the Law exactly as it was. They sought “to build a fence around the Law.” Any change, any development, any alteration, anything new was abhorrent to them. Their methods lead to the paralysis of religious truth.

Like the man with the talent, they desired to keep things exactly as they were and were condemned for their actions. In this parable Jesus tells us that there can be no religion without adventure, and that God can find no use for the closed mind. Additionally, there is much more in this parable:

The parable tells us that God gives men differing gifts. One man received five talents, another two, and another one. It is not a man’s talent, which matters; what matters is how he uses it. God never demands from results for which they do not already have sufficient abilities to accomplish. What God demands is that each of us should use to the full set of abilities given to us. We are not all equal in skill; but we can be all equal in our efforts. The parable tells us that whatever gifts we have, small or large, we must use them in service to God.

The parable also tells us that the reward of work well done is to be given still more work to do. The two servants who had done well are not told to lean back and rest on their laurels. They are given greater tasks and greater responsibilities in God’s service.

It is important to note that the man who is punished is punished because he did not try. The man with the one talent did not lose his talent; he simply did nothing with it. Even if he had tried something and lost itwould have been better than to do nothing at all. It is always a temptation for us to say, “I have no real skill and I can do so little for God’s kingdom.” The condemnation is for the person who, having even one talent, will not try to use it, and will not risk it for the common good.

Within this parable is a universal truth and rule of life: It tells us that to the person who risks and shares more, more will be given but to risk nothing is to lose everything. The meaning is this–If a person has a skill and exercises it, they progressively will be able to do more with it. But to fail to exercise it, is to inevitably lose it. If we have some proficiency at a game or an art, if we have some gift for doing something, the more we exercise that proficiency and that gift, the harder the work and the bigger the task we will be able to tackle. It is the lesson of life that the only way to keep a gift is to use it in the service of God and in the service of mankind.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the ways people should find their “talents” (skills)? [https://giftstest.com/]
  • How would a person know if they are using their “talents” (skills, even wealth) for the benefit of God’s kingdom?
  • How does a Christian bury their “bag of Gold.?”
  • When we fail to exercise, our muscles atrophy. How would our skills and God-given talents atrophy if we fail to use them?
  • How to we build up, practice those “talents” for God?

Discussion Challenge

  • What should a church or group of believers do to help each other grow stronger with their “talents.?”

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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