The Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25. Its subject matter is again about wise stewardship of what God gives us. It tells another story about a man who traveled to a far country and left his servants to invest wisely while he was away. This time instead of giving his servants equal amounts to do business for him, as in the previous chapter, here he gives different amounts of opportunity to just three people. First, He gave one servant five talents, then another servant two talents and a third servant just one talent. In those days, a talent was considered a fortune because it represented six thousand denarius. To help put this in context, just one denarius’s was a normal day’s work for a laborer, so you can see that the master had exercised great faith in these particular servants.
As the story goes, when he returned from his journey, the one to whom he had given five talents had made another five. So this servant gave his Master ten talents back. The second servant also had doubled his investment – his two talents had been increased to four. But, the one who had been trusted with only one talent had not been faithful in discharging his responsibility to his master for he just buried his master’s money.
His pitiful excuse was: ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed, and I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there is what is yours.’
“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away, and cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There’ll be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matt. 25:24-30).
Now, this parable speaks about a man who went to a far country, just as Jesus has gone away to a far place. People who give their lives to Jesus are called His servants, and so Jesus is like the Master in the parable. (Jesus has actually gone away to Heaven, but He has promised to return soon.) The Master in the parable gave the talents to each servant, each according to their ability.
Let’s look at this ability. There are some people who are just born clever. Some may even have parents, who can give them the very best education possible. These people have a great start in life and are considered highly privileged people. They would have no financial problems: no intellectual problems because they have done well at the best universities; they have received the best encouragement and mentoring available; they also have been loved by family members and highly esteemed by others. I believe that these are the type of people who were given five talents.
Not many people who came from poor families end up ruling a state or a country. People from more privileged backgrounds seem to make their way into politics and leadership.
So, when the Lord was distributing the talents, He was distributing them—the five, the two and the one—each according to the recipient’s ability.
So, take comfort in knowing that the Lord knows your ability. He is not going to ask for something that is too hard for you to do. He does however require that you use your ability in a faithful manner. The master was not impressed with the lazy servant who squandered his God given ability. This type of behavior does not happen by mistake: it is a deliberate action by a person.
At birth, we are all given natural talents and abilities and God wants us to use those abilities for His Kingdom. There are many people who may not be consciously aware of what their abilities are but others who love them can point them out. Generally, talents are found in what you can do well or the positive things that you love doing more than anything else. E.g. some people are hopeless at drawing things, yet others find themselves drawing at every opportunity. Others may be naturally musical and find peace in playing an instrument. A talent includes things that you desire to pursue because you are confident that you will perfect it in life.
Spiritual gifts are different to natural talents. Don’t be confused between the two. Regardless of natural talents, a person can have many spiritual gifts and vice versa. No Christian is restricted by the things they may have inherited at birth, such as low IQ. Neither should a Christian boast of things God gave them that are different to their parent’s abilities. We should all be thankful for whatever talents or gifts we have.
However “spiritual” gifts are reserved for those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. They are quite separate than our other natural gifts or talents. These spiritual gifts must first be known by us and then acted upon. You can find a simple test on “Google” that will help you discover them. Some Spirit filled Christians automatically use a spiritual gift and are not conscious that the ability has come from the Holy Spirit – they need teaching on this subject.
When you combine your natural talents and your spiritual gifts, life becomes really exciting. There are three people who presently stand out in my mind who have done this: Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer. (Joyce particularly, is an outstanding speaker and constantly applies truth in practical ways using easy terminology.) These people have been promoted by the Lord and given much authority in His Kingdom to do great works, and they are using both their talents and their spiritual gifts to the best of their abilities.
Someone who has been given two talents and is using their spiritual gifts may be one who is a Pastor of a church or speaking at conferences or going from church to church as a guest speaker whilst shepherding and preaching in their own church.
Most of us would easily relate to those who have been given just one talent. I have a simple camera—a cheap five hundred dollar camera—and I sit down and make “You Tube” videos. I have an inexpensive computer and write articles and put them on the Internet. Thousands of people watch these videos and read these articles each month. Doing that is just using my one little talent and my spiritual gifting. (The internet brings multiplication.)
I do not like to think that any servant of God can be found squandering their talent to the extent that this last servant did. Scripture teaches that salvation is a free gift and Jesus has promised to never cast out a believer in John 6:37, so the passage is not talking about loss of salvation. Perhaps the hard words said by Jesus in verse 30 may refer to the loss of a person’s reward at the Judgment Seat of believers.
You can read all about this Judgment by looking up 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. Verse 15 says: “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
I spoke a little on the Judgment Seat of Christ in the previous chapter but will continue a little here. This particular judgment will not be against sins we have committed, because Jesus has already been judged for them and God is legally bound not ever to judge sin twice. In our courts of law this is called “Double Jeopardy” and God is not into doing that! In fact, God has chosen to forget our sin and wipe them from His memory forever. This judgment will take place in Heaven and is only for Christians - there will be no unbelievers present in Heaven! This “Day” will determine the rewards or the loss of rewards for our works of service while on earth: how we have lived our life since becoming a Christian.
The servant in the parable would forfeit the blessing and joy of reward by his unfaithfulness in stewardship. We are responsible to God for what we do with the resources he has entrusted us with. This includes our finances, but also our opportunities and our talents and gifting He has given to us. The “weeping and gnashing of teeth” reflect the servant’s remorse for lost opportunity. The judgments made on that day are final for all eternity and will determine the joy of rewards or the loss of rewards, we will experience in Heaven.
One of the reasons for this teaching is to encourage you to take seriously the things God has entrusted you with. One future day you will be so pleased that you have been a good steward of all your privileges. Also, commit yourself to do a Spiritual Gifts test. Discover your personal gifts and begin to develop them. As I have said, there is nothing more exciting than walking in your spiritual gifts.
I believe that I have the gift of teaching, the gift of encouragement, the gift of prophecy and the gift of evangelism. These gifts I am very aware of and I use them as the opportunity arises. At certain times, God has gifted me with a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom and this has been both exciting and daunting.
Everyone has a destiny and a purpose that God has planned for you before conception! To get a handle on this read the whole of Psalm 139 – it will blow you away! Most often your destiny can be found in what you want to do, your dreams, your desires and your biggest ambitions. They are often your destiny and you need to make small steps and work towards them.
For many years, I have wanted to preach. I had a friend who bought a camera and we both started to preach a little bit and then he sold the camera to a Pawn Broker because he needed money. We could not preach anymore and that upset me, but it had planted a seed and a desire in me.
A couple of years later, the Australian government gave people on a disability pension some money due to the economic downturn. I used this money to buy myself a camera and soon I started to make videos on YouTube. If you try to search YouTube under my full name, I have a few hundred videos. I believe I am walking in my destiny. I hope in the future not only to be preaching to people on the Internet, but I hope to be preaching to audiences and in churches, but we have to take things step by step. God has been working on my theology, building line upon line, precept upon precept. That is His way of growing us. We can move slowly into our destiny or quite fast. It all depends on the Lord and His wisdom in knowing where we currently are or how much we can absorb.
You can be making steps and equipping yourself and becoming more proficient at individual parts of your destiny before you move into the whole thing. So I encourage you to work out your natural abilities and most importantly, your spiritual gifts. Dream big and tell God how much you appreciate the work He has started in you. What God start He finishes. Philippians 1:6 says: “Being confident of this very thing; that He who has began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Don’t be hard on yourself! God is committed to the task of perfecting you. God Bless.