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The parable of the Talents illustrates the loyalty God requires of His servants, for He is faithful. The parable lays deep-seated emphasis on a servants' faithfulness and on the principle "to whom much is given, from him also shall much be required."
The Kingdom of Heaven is like faithful and foolish servants while the master is away. Three servants were given money to take care of for their master. One servant was given 10 talents, another 5 talents and another 1 talent. Two were good stewards, they were commended and rewarded, while the servant who did nothing but buried his 1 talent, was condemned and banished to the outer darkness.
The fact that the master travelled to a far country indicated there would be ample time to test the faithfulness of His servants.
Servants in the ancient world could enjoy considerable responsibility and authority. The man going on a journey entrusted his cash assets to three of his workers who are understood to be almost partners in his affairs and who may share some of his profits.
The master expected the watchfulness and faithfulness of the servants to manifest during his absence, not only in performance of duty, even if there is a long delay, but in an improvement of the distributed talents, until the day of reckoning. All three servants did not know how long their master would be absent.
A talent was a large amount of money. The talents given were not belonging to the servants, they were owned by their master. A talent could be of gold, silver, or copper, each with its own value. The talent was first a measure according to weight, and then became a unit of coinage.
At once two of the servants put the money to work. They felt the responsibility of their assignment, obeyed without delay, and achieved growth of the capital. But one servant, being disobedient, unwilling to work or take risks, merely dug a hole and buried the money.
This was safer than the deposit systems of the time. Although Bankers used to sit at small tables and change money for the public and gave extra money to those who invested their money, it was believed for many centuries that money hidden in the ground was as secure as it could be.
When the master returned, the first servant, who doubled his five talents was praised, especially for his faithfulness, and given two things, increased responsibility and a share in his master's joy. The second servant had been faithful with what had been given him and heard the same words as his more able fellow servant. The point is a share in the master's joy to the limits of each faithful servant's capacity.
The third servant accused his master of being a hard man. The servant was saying that the master was greedy, and returned to his master what belonged to him, no more and no less. What this servant overlooked was his faithfulness to his master and his obligation to discharge his assigned duties. His failure betrayed his lack of love for his master, which he masked by blaming his master and excusing himself. Only the wicked servant criticises his master.
The master condemned the servant on the basis of the servant's own words, which prove his guilt. The talent entrusted to this wicked servant was taken from him, the relationship between master and servant was severed, his 1 talent was given to the man who had ten talents.
The first two servants received different amounts of money but received the same reward. Their reward was based upon faithfulness not the size of their responsibility.
The wicked servant was lazy and unfaithful and really did not fear his master. He failed to be profitable in the task given him and therefore could not share in the reward. The slothful employee was not a genuine servant, and obviously had no real knowledge about his master. He accused the master to justify his laziness, and lied about him but he had been thinking only of himself. The unfaithful servant was disobedient to his master's instruction, he was judged according to his faithless inactivity.
Faithfulness won approval from the master at his return. The unfaithful servant lost what he had carefully kept hidden.
There are great distinctions between the faithful and the faithless.
The Parable of the Talents is the tragedy of wasted opportunity.
The man travelling to a far country is Jesus and the servants represent professing believers. Servants are Christians, stewards of His grace. Christ gave His disciples work to do until He returns. His journey to a far country is the Lord's departure and Ascension into heaven. The service of His disciples is reviewed at his return about the faithful use or unfaithful misuse of Christ's gifts.
Quantity of possession are His that He gives to His disciples. Disciples have the Word of God, Spiritual gifts, God's redeeming Grace, his forgiveness, His mercy. All are goods of the Master.
The disciple with a larger capacity for God's knowledge has a larger privilege for service to be faithful. The Master knew the capabilities of each of the three servants.
Attempts to identify the talents with spiritual gifts, the law, natural endowments, the gospel, or whatever else, limits the parable. Perhaps the talent symbolism was chosen because of its capacity for varied application.
After a long time, the implication being, that the eschatological setting, together with the promise of joy consummation of the kingdom will be long delayed.
Grace never condones irresponsibility, even those given less are obligated to use and develop what they have. The wicked servant was worthless for he to failed to do good and use what God has entrusted to him to use was grievous sin, which is not only in the loss of neglected resources but in rejection by The Master, banishment from his presence, and tears and gnashing of teeth. Weeping and gnashing of teeth indicate great remorse.
The parable maintains that watchfulness must mark all Jesus' disciples which does not lead to passivity but to doing one's duty, by spiritual growth and enlarging the resources God entrusts to us, till after a long time The Master returns and settles all things justly. The parable applies widely and cannot be restricted to Christian leaders or Jews who fail to recognise their Messiah. All will be faithful to a degree, but a fruitless person is unmasked as a hypocrite and suffers for it.
God provides abundantly for those who already possess the life of the Kingdom. This abundance exceeds anything which the citizens have merited. Those who are excluded from the kingdom forfeit even what they do possess and are cast as unprofitable servants into outer darkness.
Each person in the kingdom of heaven is given a certain number of opportunities to serve God. They can either waste those opportunities or invest them in a way that furthers the Kingdom.
Believers are to recognise the divine source of provisions and gifts, and remember there is a future accountability depending upon the importance of use and faithfulness.
Those who seek gain for the Kingdom for themselves and others, will become richer but those who hide what is given them will become impoverished. To those who desire to be used for God's glory will have the means provided. The more they do the more they were enabled. There is an inward spiritual life and external activity of the faithful believer.
Those who have no heart for service to God in the Kingdom will be unrewarded and will suffer. Worthless servants lacking foresight, faith, practical energy and wisdom, failing to develop, failing to grow go unrewarded.
Christ's gifts are rich and valuable. The third servant did not use, nor misspend, nor squandered his amount but hid it.
The integrity of the other two servants caused others to be praised by their master. Slothful servants are wicked servants. It is required that the Lord's servants are faithful, trustworthy and reliable. An unfaithful servant cannot be depended upon. The Master's judgement was severe.
Believers are to serve The Lord faithfully with what they have. A person must use what God has given whether it be abilities, spiritual gifts or material possessions. Many see that this parable does not apply to the stewardship of natural gifts.
The recipients of divine grace, because of the favour of God through Christ, inherit immeasurable blessings. But those who despise His goodness by burying them and cling instead to the passing goods of the world will ultimately loose what they have.
The faithful enter the joy of The Lord, the unfaithful are denied the bliss of heaven.
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