As a local church and ministry, we are accountable to all those who trust us with their gifts of money, time and help. Yet we are accountable to an even higher authority: God.
Organizations are accountable to their members and shareholders. They must look at their investments, to see whether they had profits or losses. We are all accountable for the way we invest and manage our life. In other words, we are responsible for our actions as well as our inactions, to our wife, husband, parents, boss, teachers, friends, etc.
Sadly, most people forget that they are accountable to the ultimate authority: God our Creator and giver of all things.
The rich man in the story in Matthew 25:14-30 was going away on a long journey, so he called his servants (these were live-in servants and part of the household) and gave final instructions and some money to each one of them, telling them to stay and work while during his absence.
The word “talent” was first used to describe a unit of weight (75 pounds) and later for a unit of money. Today “talent” generally refers to an ability. This master asked his servants to run the business; he intended to come back.
He gave each one according to his ability (verse 15), just as the talents (gifts) God gives us are personalized. It is usually pride and selfishness that makes people desire and envy the talents of others.
There are four things in this story that I would like us to look at.
1. The Master’s Kindness
The servants (slaves) had nothing; slaves did not even own their bodies let alone riches. They had no claim on their master; he owed them nothing. Yet he, in his kindness, gave them his riches to use and produce and they were allowed to use everything in that household.
2. The Servants Who Increased Their Talents
- They got down to work right away (verse 16).
- The work was faithfully carried out; they did not stop or slow down, and they used their talents even though their master was not
- They were very successful, actually doubling the talents given to
- They were ready to give an account.
When their master came, they were rewarded generously. They received praise: “Well done.” They received promises: “I will put you in charge of many things.” And they received glory: “Come and share your Master’s happiness.”
3. The Servant Who Buried His Talent
The one who had received one talent went and buried it (verse 18). He just dug a hole and buried his talent.
There are at least five things that characterize this unfaithful servant:
Ungratefulness — Although he lived off of and consumed his Master’s riches, he did nothing to improve his personal account. He buried his talent!
Indifference toward his Master’s wishes and the talents that his master entrusted to him. His Master’s priorities were not his.
Idleness — He did nothing!
Neglect of duty — While the other servants used their talents, he was probably doing nothing, or having too much fun to do anything productive. His own comfort and pleasures were his priorities, though even a small effort would have produced some fruit.
The Bible says: “Anyone, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17)
Foolish reasoning — He said: “I knew you are a hard man…” (verse 24). He was looking for excuses. People are the same today, using excuses such as: “Who can please God? Who am I to even try? God can use someone else.”
There were rewards for the faithful ones but only awful punishment to the unfaithful one. Romans 14:12 says: “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” And in 1 Peter 4:5, we read: “But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead”
The response of the Master makes it very clear that, regardless of the amount they received, they were still accountable to him. God gives all of us, without exception, talents to use. Some have obvious talents while others have hidden talents. Some have many gifts, some few; but we all have talents that can be used to bring glory to God and bless others.
The rewards are based on our faithfulness and commitment to our Lord’s service and not on how big or impressive our gift(s) seem to be.
To the unfaithful servant, the master said: “You wicked, lazy servant! … Take away the talent from him.” (verses 26 and 28) He stripped this untrustworthy servant of all the privileges and talents given to him. But that was not the end. The servant still had to pay the price of being unfaithful. What a terrible ending!
Verse 30 says: “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” If this man had earned even one talent, he would have received the same kind of reward as the others. Instead, all he had to show for his life was a hole in the ground.
There are many lessons to be learned from this story but I believe the main reason Jesus told this parable was to make us understand that there are only two kinds of servants: faithful and unfaithful.
The Holy spirit cannot dwell in an unfaithful and unprofitable Christian. Being a Christian involves more than playing it safe and doing little or nothing. It demands service that produces results. Many go to church to be blessed and to get some kind of spiritual high while others go to be a blessing to others. What about you?
If there is one resolution we must make for this new year, it should be to serve faithfully, joyfully and effectively.
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian