Carrying on with Jesus’ teaching about how to get ready for his return, now is the famous parable of the talents. A “talent” was a monetary unit worth around twenty years’ work for a laborer. In very rough contemporary terms, then, if we say a reasonable but not expansive working wage was about $50,000, each unit equates to about $1 million. This is not a small amount of money. They are being given a considerable responsibility.
The story unfolds along familiar lines—they are each given responsibility according to their abilities. One receives five talents, another two, and another one. The ones with five and two talents find ways to multiply what they have been given. But the one with one talent instead buries the talent to keep it safe.
Why does he bury the talent? Because he is afraid (25:25). While then the other servants are commended, this servant, through an abundance of caution is not only rebuked but evidences his lack of faith and faithfulness in the Lord. The talent is taken away from him, given to the others, “For to everyone who has more will be given…but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (25:29). And the “worthless servant” is cast into hell (25:30).
The sting in the tale of this story is that the servants who take the risk to invest what is given to them are the ones who are commended. How easy it is to reason as the servant who buried the talent—to play it safe, to bury and not invest what God has given us! But if we trust in Christ and have his love in us, and are therefore secure in him, we will work out our salvation with boldness and courage, seeking first the kingdom of God, and bearing much fruit. May it be so with us all.
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