The following is an excerpt from a sermon on Matthew 24 and 25.
I struggle with the parable of the talents. For a long time my understanding of the parable of the talents (or bags of gold, depending on your interpretation) had been that God has given each one of us talents, gifts, abilities, and resources. And we are supposed to increase those same talents, gifts, abilities and resources. If we didn't we would be punished. I find this confusing for a number of reasons- some of which are; it seems punitive, shallow, overly concerned with measurable results, self serving, and somewhat futile. I remember one teacher explaining it this way- if we had the gift of musical ability, this parable teaches us that we are to develop and increase that musical gift. I remember thinking “Why? What is the point of that?” The idea that God gives us abilities merely to increase those same abilities does not fit with my understanding of God, what he wanted from me, nor what he wanted for His Kingdom. Soon I came to the realization that the parable is not about increasing gold/skills for the benefit of the same gold/skill, it is for the benefit of the "household".
The gold given to the servant was to come back to the master and his household. The entire household would be the benefactors of the increase. In this new understanding, the increase I am seeking, is not so that I benefit by what God has given, it is so that His Kingdom benefits. This is confirmed when we look back at the end of chapter 24. The servant is left in charge to care for the household. It is expected that when the master comes back the household is healthy and vibrant and thriving. Not that the servant himself is the only one cared for.
The next realization I had is the understanding that talents were given based on ability, the servants were not given the ability itself. The gold was a tool, not the end game. What we have; abilities, money, time, and energy, are great because it means we can use them to the benefit of God's Kingdom. In fact the more of those things we have the more is expected of us to use them. The expectations of how much each servant could increase was based on their talents, the idea of increasing our abilities and developing our gifts is not so that we have more resources, it is so that we can be entrusted with more care of the Kingdom. And the what we are given- our "gold" is the part I find the most exciting.
Jesus has given us many things- grace, hope, joy, peace,- but the greatest gift that encompasses them all is the gift far greater than gold. The gift we have been given- so that we can increase it for God's Kingdom- is LOVE. With this perspective- this entire parable falls into place for me. God is not punitive for those who aren't aggressively involved in self development. But he is angry when we furtively hideaway our love and are wasteful with it. He is disappointed when we are not bold and risky putting that love to work and having it grow more each day. The idea that God has bestowed love on His servants, to increase that same love fits with all that God has called from us.
We are given a love from Christ, beyond anything we could have made for selves, but it is not ours to possess and hoard. We are to develop it and use it in such a way that when He returns we are able to show Him how much it has grown under our abilities. The more we increase this love, the more we are pleasing to Him, and the more we are adding to His Kingdom.
I am reassured in this understanding of the parable- that servants of Jesus are bestowed with love to increase- as it is confirmed in the end of Matthew 24. The judgement of the servant in charge is based on his treatment of his fellow household members, by his ability to love and care for them. And again I become even more confident of this perspective when I read further in Matthew 25, where Jesus assures us that how we care for those who are hungry, thirsty or struggling will determine our place in His House. God does not care about the things we care about and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He has entrusted us with this valuable resource- one far beyond gold or money, and one far beyond skills and talents. He wants us to increase this gift of love by actions for each other. In showing love to each other we increase the love initial entrusted to us and the benefit is found in His kingdom.
Meet the Pasotr
Pastor Heather and her family have been a part of the Cold Lake Community since December 2006 and she has been the pastor at Community Baptist Church since September 2017.