Message for Sunday 15 November 2020: “Talented Multiplication”
Posted On October 19, 2020
Today message highlights Jesus’ teaching about talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus’ language focused on using talents—ancient units of money—in a manner that multiplies a wise investment. What was an ancient talent worth? The closest reckoning indicates that in Jesus’ day, one talent was the amount that an ordinary day laborer would receive in twenty years!
In the parable, three slaves had each received talents from a departing slave owner. One slave received five talents, the second was given two, and the third received only one talent, each according to their ability (an important qualification). When the master returned, he demanded an account of what each man had done with his money. The first two slaves had each doubled their initial investment, which means they had a 100% growth of principle. The third slave was too scared to invest, and he hid the one talent without so much as receiving ordinary banking interest.
The slave who refused to invest the owner’s money had hell to pay. The foolish slave was punished because the owner was angry that the slave had not generated any additional money. Jesus said, “[f]or to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). Does this mean that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer? If that’s the case, then many people will feel encouraged by the horrible reality of recent trends.
The issue doesn’t end with what seems to be a simple call to multiply money. Jesus also implicated the issue of personal character in his parable, saying about the third slave, “[a]s for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30). Why was Jesus so harsh? Or, should we just stay quiet and give a pass to these troubling verses? Throughout history many wealthy, blessed people have used Jesus’ words to trample the rights and humanity of those who are less fortunate. The parable of the talents is but example of how biblical stories can be misused as weapons against the poor and weak.
As to making money, some folks are wildly successful at investment banking, financial arbitrage, stock options and other forms of wealth-generation. For better and for worse, people who make money from money can’t find another passage in the Bible that supports what they do more than today’s parable. This is one of the few instances where, on the surface at least, Jesus’ teaching dramatically illustrates the virtue of multiplying wealth.
Jesus was addressing more than money management. Nowadays, talent is used to refer to a person’s special abilities. People are unique and priceless, the pinnacle of God’s handiwork. In this way, the parable of the talents implies that people should not squander their God-given potential. A life is a terrible thing to waste.
Jesus’ parable reveals that fear is not an acceptable reason for not investing in yourself. The parable indicates that the bad slave did nothing because he was paralyzed by his own troubling thoughts. In so many situations people don’t achieve their potential because they make excuses. Sure, there are external considerations that are beyond a person’s control but that’s not the point here. Act wisely with what you have and that’s all that God or anyone else can ask of you.
Make your best effort to improve yourself; don’t allow anything to hold you back. Gain the wealth of new skills and experiences no matter how old you feel. Stretch and grow! Take risks investing yourself and you’ll reap satisfying, life-enhancing rewards.