For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one gave five talents, to another, two, to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
Jesus is teaching a series of profound truths in this passage. This is a picture of life. God has given each of us an arena in which to operate. We did not get to choose the arena; He did. He has given us a certain amount of resources. We did not get to choose the amount of resources; He did. But notice in verse 15 that the resources are doled out according to each one’s ability. God is asking you to earn a profit for Him with the life He has given you. He has given you resources of all kinds: talents, opportunities, training, etc. Your job is to return a profit to God worth more than what He invests in you. We don’t often like to put life in these terms, but this is exactly what Jesus is saying.
Therefore the questions obviously are
- Are you developing a profit for God out of the life and resources He gave you?
- Are you consuming more than you produce?
- Is God pleased with the profit your life is producing?
- Are you hiding what He gave you and refusing to use it?
Jesus is clearly trying to teach that we are responsible. He is definitely saying that it is not all predestined and you can just sit back and let it play itself out. He is saying that you must actively be pursuing profit for God.
Life is what you make it. God has given you all the things needed for a great life. Yes, He has given other people more stuff; but it does not diminish what He has given you. Take what He has given you and run with it. Enjoy it, glorify God with it, and multiply it.
A talent was 6,000 denarii and a denarii was a day’s wages, so this king was entrusting these servants with a significant amount of money to invest and do business with for him. He wanted a return on investment, not just the return of the investment. Clearly the king gave each person as much as they could handle. Even the servant who received 1 talent – he as getting sixteen and a half years worth of wages to do business on. If you figure 50,000 dollars a year in our day as an average salary, that means that the king was giving the least of the servants 825,000 dollars to start a business, invest, and use to increase business. The servant who received 2 talents received 1.65 million dollars to invest and the servant who received 5 talents was given 4.125 million dollars to invest in whatever way he saw fit as long as it would result in a profit to the king upon his return.
Notice that using present financial figures, the servant who was given 1.65 million to do business with did business, had successes and failures, and lived off of his decisions and investments and still returned to the king 3.3 million dollars in whatever timeframe the king was away. It would seem that Jesus tells this story to have the time away from the king as the span of your adult life. So in 40-60 years, the servant was asked to take the skills, abilities, resources, and opportunities and return 3.3 million dollars to the king after subtracting out the failures and what the servant and his family needed to live on.
The servant who had 4.125 million invested with him, returned 8.25 million to the master after living expenses, failures, and business expenditures. This parable puts the point of our life in the analogy of an investment banker. God is the investment banker who has met with you and agreed to fund this little life you are getting started. He wants you to succeed and He wants a return on His investment. If He is willing to fund this life of yours, then you must increase His investment in you at least double.
Did you realize that you will settle accounts with God one day and He will want to know whether you at least doubled His glory in the world? How are you doing? He has offered to completely cover your mistakes and mess-ups through the death of His own Son. We are to use the talents, gifts, opportunities, and experiences that He has given us to significantly increase His glory. Each of our missions will be different because of who we are and what we do well. But the mission is the same – to increase the glory of God in the world. Some will do it through the size of their business. Some will do it through the quality of their business. Some will do it in church. Some will do it in the home. Some will do it in hospitals. Some will do it the field of justice. Some will do it recovering people from sin and stupidity. Some will do it through prevention of crimes and sin. Some will do it in government. Some will do it in medicine. Some will do it in the legal field. Some will do it in architecture. Some will do it through teaching. Some will do it through manual labor. Some will do it through charitable work.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.