Matthew 25, Part 2:
As Jesus finished the Parable of the Virgins, he segues into the next parable by advising the disciples and us- to watch therefore , because we do not know the day. His next parable is also a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven, as he says Again.; and what proceeds is the parable known as the Parable of the Talents.
Now in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Lord is the Bridegroom. In this parable he is the man going on a journey ( NIV) ; the man traveling into a far country ( KJV) Our Lord has ascended back to heaven and we are now awaiting his return. For the church we are awaiting the trumpet that signals the Rapture- for those in the Tribulation, the nation of Israel they are awaiting his second coming to establish his kingdom on earth.
What applies to both groups is to be ready- and to be at work. The parable tells of the mans preparation for his journey includes, as we read: he called his servants and entrusting to them his property. To one he gave five talents ( of money,NIV); to another two talents and to another one talent, each according to his ability.
Talents in the day of Jesus was a measure of money. We think today of talent as an ability, a natural ability. Now we will see these talents here are not natural abilities. As a born again believer I am to use my natural abilities to serve the Lord. But lets look carefully and stay within the context of scripture as to what is the difference between these 3 servants.
There is a message repeated throughout the Scripture and in the Gospel and the parables of Jesus. There are two houses- one built on the Rock, and the other on Sand. I always pictured the house built on sand as a beautiful, expensive home built on the beach with that million dollar view and million dollar price tag- but it does not lasts. I read there are two gates, and two ways, the narrow and the broad, one leads to life eternal the other to destruction. I see there are two different types of soil- one which produces an abundant harvest and the other that does not; there are two type of virgins, foolish and wise, two types of servants evil and good wheat and tares- true and false.
We will see as the parable unfolds, one of the servants is not what he seems to be, he is a tare among the wheat.
If the talents here are not natural abilities- what are they? Here is the key- we know the man who went away is the Master, the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven. The parable tells us the man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them HIS PROPERTY. This means this is something God gives. One is born with natural ability, which we call talent or a natural gift. It can be a talent, a gift natural ability for: music, sports, business, academics, mechanical aptitude, speaking, writing, etc. These talents in this parable are distributed by the Master to each person- some are given more than others according to their natural abilities.
We also find this clue that explains the reason for the variance in talents given: – the amount of talents given was according to the abilities.( These are the natural abilities we have.) So God in his wisdom will not give a 5 ability servant only 1 talent, nor will He give a 1 ability servant- 5 talents. In one case the 1 ability servant would be overwhelmed with 5 talents; and the 5 ability servant would be frustrated with only one talent.
As we read the whole of the parable, there is another implied clue- the man,the master who went on the journey and entrusted his servants with his property expected the servants to produce gain. He wanted there to be growth, fruit, an abundant crop. For as Jesus said in John 15,His Father is the owner of the vineyard, it is to His glory that we bear much fruit. God expects us to produce fruit. The opportunity that comes from God, is something we are expected to invest in and risk where there is always the possibility of loss or gain. It is our decision as to what we do with what the Lord gives us. He expects us to be faithful- to be at work. James said faith without works is dead. Are you willing to invest what God has given you? The decision is yours. You can say- well now is not a good time for me to be involved in a ministry. Or you may say- I do not have those kind of abilities.
The opportunity given to us by the Lord is invested for His benefit- not mine. The opportunity is not given to me for personal gain.
What is this talent in this parable? The talent is an opportunity to use my natural ability (plus my spiritual gift) to the advancement of Gods kingdom. If you have the natural ability of possessing a beautiful singing voice with perfect pitch- what do you look for? You look for opportunities to use that ability.
So what are the talents given to us by the Lord? They are opportunities to use and exercise our natural gifts and abilities to serve the Lord. The purpose of using our abilities to serve the Lord are opportunities for gain to Christ and His Kingdom.
So we are told to be prepared- to be ready for the Master will return when we do not expect Him. We are to wait and do good. We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has ordained we walk in them ( God prepared in advance for us to do). Ephesians 2:10
Now we see the first two servants invest the talents given to them by their master and double the masters investment. The natural abilities these two servants had differed. The man with several abilities-( five) was given more opportunities to use his ability and he was diligent to use the opportunities to serve his master by producing more for his master. To the master, it mattered not whether the servant had 5 , 2 or 1 natural ability. What he rewarded the first two servants for was their faithfulness to make full use of the opportunities provided.
Neither servant used these opportunities or natural abilities for their own personal gain. It would have been tempting having doubled the masters property to take a portion for themselves for their efforts. They sought first the kingdom of their Master and His righteousness- and as a result they were rewarded. But they had no expectation of reward- they did this for their master.
It is easy to seek first our own kingdoms gain , isnt it? And finding we have certain natural abilities to use those for our own personal gain. Maybe even give God a little something after we have satisfied our own interest.
In Luke 12 we read of a man who obviously had several natural abilities. He was a successful farmer,who faced the problem of what to do with all that he had gained through taking advantage of the opportunities the world offered. He had been a wise investor and wise in the things of the world, commerce, agriculture, real estate. He decided on a building project to store my grain, fill my barns and fill them with my goods. My- mine, mine,mine. No mention of God. No mention of the God who owns everything. No this was as servant who served himself using his natural abilities to acquire wealth from the opportunities the world offers. He was going to retire to the easy life and live off what he had built for himself. But God said to him, You fool, this very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.
We already know the things of this world allure us and can lead us astray. In the classic story- The Christmas Carol, Scrooge was a young man who used his natural abilities and hard work to become a wealthy man. But his story reveals at one time he was a young man in love, he lost that love for his love of money was greater than his love for this young woman. He was deceived into believing he would marry her at the proper time when he had enough money. She soon realized Ebeneezar Scrooge would never have enough. He lost that love- and found the love he had for money was not fulfilling. Fortunately for Scrooge, in the fictional account, he avoided the fate of the rich fool in Luke 12, and realized before it was too late- he had invested his life in the wrong thing. Awakened to the truth he set about investing in the kingdom of God. Two parables you might say- one by our Lord Jesus and the other by Charles Dickens.
John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: it might have been. Lost opportunity.
Maybe what is holding you back from using your natural ability for the Lord is fear. This is the case with the third servant with one talent.
In fact what we discover is the third servant was a tare among the wheat, he was the unproductive soil, he was not what he appeared to be just as 5 of the virgins were foolish and not wise.
As Tozer said- what comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you. Do you see what this servants view of his master was? This servant said- you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.
This servant did not have the same view of the master as the other two servants did. He did not know his master as gracious and forgiving- he viewed him as a hard, stern taskmaster. Actually, he chose to view his master that way in order to rationalize why he did not serve him. The truth is he did not serve his master, for he chose to serve himself. Wanted to live his life his way- not the masters way.
How many have had the opportunity to serve the Lord which begins with the offer of salvation and turned down the offer. Their excuses vary- I have just purchased some land and must go see it. Another says I have just bought a team of five oxen and on my way to try them out. Another said I have just gotten married. ( Luke 14) An opportunity-an invitation, they all declined for one reason or another. The truth is they are all saying: I have something I had rather do- than serve you. I will serve myself.
This servant was self-centered. Why work for his master when his master got all the gain? What was in it for him? Ever find yourself viewing an opportunity and say whats in it for me?
This parable as well as the other parables here in this discourse is a parable about the tragedy of wasted opportunity. How horrible it will be for those who spend an eternity separated from the love of God.
Listen to these pleas from a Loving Master: Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near. ( Isaiah 55:6) Today if you hear his voice, harden not your heart. ( Hebrews 3) Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation. ( 2 Cor. 6:2)
Now if you are in New Testament terms born again- you have received the Spirit of God. You also now possess in addition to your natural abilities- spiritual gifts. God wants you to use your spiritual gifts combined with your natural abilities to serve Him. To invest in His kingdom work. To produce fruit. ARE YOU BURYING YOUR TALENT?
Perhaps what is holding you back from using your natural abilities and spiritual gifts to invest in the opportunities God will provide is fear. Then we must remember: The Lord has not given you a spirit of fear. Listen to what Paul writes to Timothy: For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind ( self-discipline). 2 Timothy 1
Paul tells you three things God has given to you, if you are a true servant of God.
- God has enabled us with His Power- the power of the Holy Spirit.
- God has enriched us with His love.
- God has enlightened our minds, giving us a sound mind.
The world wants to conform your mind- so that you accept the world philosophy of success. However, the Bible via the Holy Spirit wants to transform our minds so we are set free from the spirit of fear and we know perfect love casts out fear.
Paul reminded Timothy he had to fan the flame the gift of God. What does that mean? Well when we think of the metaphors used to describe the Word of God- we know it is described by Peter as the incorruptible seed. We read of the vine and the branch in John 15- where the Lord explains our relationship as a branch that abides in the vine and apart from Him we can do nothing. A seed goes through a growth process which is required : buried in the soil, dies in order to bring new life- sprouts come up from the earth- but it takes time and a season to produce fruit. The flame must be fanned- means the gift given must be developed through a process before it can be utilized completely.
On the road to Emmaus, the resurrected Lord has an encounter with two disciples who were returning from Jerusalem on the very Sunday, Jesus was resurrected. During that walk, Jesus, still unrecognized by them, shared the Scriptures concerning himself. Then when he broke bread and gave thanks when they stopped to eat- they recognized him. Then he was gone.
Listen to what they said: Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?
The flame had been fanned.
Perhaps you are fearful of using what the Master has given you. You do not want to miss the opportunities to serve Him. He has not given you a spirit of fear. Surely you do not believe the One who loved you and gave Himself for you is a hard man- an unforgiving taskmaster.
Why do we not have burning hearts that are taking advantage of opportunities- even to the point of risking loss? Why do our hearts not burn within us? Remember the state of lukewarm is a result of getting away from the source that made you hot. What caused their hearts to burn within them? The Word of God. Fellowship with the Master, Himself.
Do you realize when you spend time in the Word, you spend time in fellowship with the Lord Jesus? He walks with you and talks with you and tells you you are his own.
Our hearts do not burn- because we are not fanning the flame. We do not spend time with our Master.
We live as if we are defeated by sin, and the affairs of the world.
We live at times like the servant with one talent- self centered lives.
Lukewarm can be described as apathy. Apathy toward the lost- breaks Our Masters heart.
He has given us spiritual gifts alongside our natural abilities in order to take advantage of the opportunities to serve Him.
You may only have one ability and one talent. You will receive the same well done thy good and faithful servant. Enter into my joy. It is about faithfulness. He rewards faithfulness.
We are all works in progress. Listen to what Paul says: . Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose. (Phil 2) Did you hear that— continue to work out which means we are a work in progress
And Paul adds in Philippians 3: Not that I already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.
Paul is saying he is a work in process.
Paul is saying I am not perfect. We are going to all make mistakes, yes, even sin. The enemy would like for us to be defeated and live in defeat and discouragement. But Paul says- forget what is past and strain toward what is ahead. Press on.
Put the last year in perspective and move on.
Make Gods goals your goals.
Seize the opportunities.
Persevere- press on. There is still light- night has not yet come.
*You are investing in eternity. You give for an eternal outcome- not give to get now. You are responsible what you have- not for what you dont have. All that you have belongs to God. The key to understanding this is- whatever you have has been entrusted to you by God is His. We are stewards of His possession- not owners of it. The Master has gone on a journey- back to heaven to prepare a place for you. He has entrusted you with opportunities to invest in His kingdom utilizing the natural abilities and spiritual gifts you have.*
He is coming again. I want to be found faithful.
Of all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: it might have been.
The Tragedy of wasted opportunity.Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14