By Donald Gettys, Pastor, McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church, McDonald, Tennessee
Summary: God isn't interested in how many talents we have—He's interested in how we are using the talent we have.
On a mountain summit grows a small patch of beautiful, fragrant flowers that flourishes in the middle of weeds and rocks. Almost completely camouflaged and unnoticed, they bloom in full resplendence. Similarly, many unnoticed people live in the midst of hardship. Far from the center of attention, they live lives of beauty and fragrance. In their obscurity, they faithfully fulfill God’s calling for them. God’s question on the last day will not be, How much were you noticed? or even How much did you do? Rather, His question will be, Were you faithful where I placed you?
Matthew 25:14 begins a parable about the talents. Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. Three servants were given eight talents. A talent was not a coin. It was a weight! About 60 pounds. The value depended on what metal was involved . . . copper, silver, or gold. One talent of silver today might be worth over 3000 dollars.
We are all blessed
When an owner places something of value in the hands of his servants, he wants it used to benefit his kingdom. For Christians, the true object of life is ministry. Jesus came to this old sinful world to serve others. Jesus placed the package of eternal life under each and everyone’s Christmas tree. That supreme gift can be yours today if you accept Jesus as your very own personal Saviour.
In the parable everybody got a minimum of at least one talent. We all have a spiritual gift. Actual possession depends upon our reception of the Holy Spirit. So each of the three servants in Jesus’ parable had the Holy Spirit. We don’t all have the same talents. God gives us according to our abilities. What matters is not how much talent we have but what we do with it. We don’t have equal talent, but we can have equal effort.
Burying your talent
The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more (Matt 25:16,17). The two-talent man did not do all that was possible for him to do. We must exercise our God-given abilities. Make the most of every opportunity to use your talents. We misuse or even bury talent today by saying things like: I’ll teach in the Sabbath School, but don’t expect me to visit the kids in their homes. I’ll help with Pathfinders, but don’t expect me to attend all the camp-outs. I’ll study my Bible, but don’t expect me to pray like a prayer warrior.
The-two talent man did double his holdings. Effort will be rewarded. You can accumulate according to your work. As Christians, we can grow to be Christ-like.
But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money (Matt 25:18). Have you ever dug a hole, placed valuable treasure inside it, and covered it up? Children often do and get frustrated trying to find their little treasures. The negligent servant buried the talent so that he could return it exactly as it was. The one-talent man is fortunate to have found his talent. The action of the negligent servant is so typical. Did he have any talent? Yes! One good one. Each of us has a talent. That sets our potential. Through hard, stern efforts with self (coupled with the blessing and power of God) you can develop your one gift. The one-talent man was punished for not trying. His sin was not in his misuse, but his disuse of that which his master entrusted to him. Invest time in your spiritual life. Every day dedicate your remaining time to becoming more like Jesus.
There are so many talents: Faithfulness, Fruitfulness, Time, Accountability, Industriousness, Means, Dependability, Mental Power, Reason, Strength, Tenderness of Heart (SDA Bible Commentary, vol 5, p 1100). Tenderness of heart is a talent! Yes! Over the years we should be sweeter, more and more in control of our temper. Pray in earnest for a new heart. God longs to give you a new heart. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (Eze 36: 26).
The rewards of the faithful servant
The reward for success is more success. Faithful servants are never told to rest on their oars. They are given even more responsibilities. If you don’t use your talent, you lose it. This is universally true of playing the violin, typing, sending Morse code, preparing sermons, or thinking. The only way to maintain your proficiency is be active in the service of God or your fellow man. Burying your talent is a sin.
For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him (Matthew 25:29). What you do with small things, you will soon begin to do when you are given big things. A small snowball rolls down the mountain until a great avalanche develops. The little things of life reveal what we are becoming. Let’s be honest with small things. Let’s invest our one talent for Jesus. If you are not becoming more and more like Jesus and using your God-given abilities for others, your reward will be taken away from you and given to another.
We are either maturing to be more like Jesus or we are lost! So many join the church but do not nourish the spark that God has placed in them. Their attendance begins to drop off. Soon they sit at home. They are just hanging on. The potential they have is not cultivated. Their talent is buried. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. ?Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ (Matthew 25:19,23).
An old missionary couple was returning to New York after several years of working in Africa. They had no pension; their health was broken; they were defeated, discouraged, and afraid. They found themselves on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from a hunting expedition. As they watched the fanfare that accompanied the President’s entourage, the man said to his wife Something is wrong. Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody cares about us. It doesn’t seem right. When the ship docked in New York, a band and dignitaries were waiting to greet the President. But no one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship and found a cheap apartment, hoping to make a living in the city.
That night the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly. His wife replied Why don’t you tell it to the Lord? A short time later he came out from the bedroom, a changed man. The Lord settled it with me, I told him how bitter I was when the President received a tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and simply said, ?But you’re not home yet!’ --Ray Stedman, Talking to My Father
There are grand rewards for faithfulness, none necessarily down here. You may be struggling today harder than at any time in your life, but do not give up on God. Someday heaven will be prepared for a palatial homecoming. You will step through the gates of pearl onto parkways of transparent gold. Jesus will welcome you home. All this will be your reward if you build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward (I Cor 3:11-14).
With Jesus as your Saviour, with your efforts combined with His power, you can reach your God-given potential.