This famous parable that Jesus used has a lot to teach us about our money if we let it. Below is the parable and a few of my thoughts about it…
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 he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.
“Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. “But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. “The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Stewards are required to take risks
It is interesting to me how upset the master got with the steward who took no risks. The other two stewards did take risks and reaped the rewards. I often wonder why the parable didn’t contain a steward who lost some of the investment. But either way, I think we are led to believe that the primary frustration of the master was that the steward was lazy and didn’t even try.
He was called a “wicked and lazy slave.” My take on this is that he was more frustrated with his laziness than his lack of production. The steward didn’t even put the talents in the bank to gain interest. The passage states that the master gave to each of them according to their ability. So, I think we can assume that the steward with one talent did have some ability, or else he wouldn’t have given him any.
If he did indeed have some ability to manage money, even with the smallest amount of ability, he would have known that earning small interest at the bank is better than burying it!
I liken this to having a Vet watch your dog for the weekend and not feed it. Most everyone knows that you should feed a dog at least daily, but especially a vet. It is their profession – the thing they are skilled at doing and are entrusted to do.
So, the extreme amount of laziness this steward had to not at least put the talent in the bank, coupled with the fact that he let fear paralyze him from doing what he was expected to do infuriated the master.
The parable is speaking of money, but this can also be applied to the gifts and skills that God has entrusted us with. If I refuse to step out in a gift or skill that God has given me because I am afraid or lazy, I may be behaving the same way as the steward with one talent.
“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
Don’t compare yourself to others
The master in the parable didn’t give each steward the same amount. They all started with different amounts, not much different than this game of life that we are all in. Some people start with a lot, some with a little. But we are all judged based on what we did with what we had, rather than what we ended up with.
The great thing about this is that our success is not based on what people may think about us. God knows what He gave us to work with and He will see what we do with it. So, it doesn’t matter whether other people think you are a success or a failure – God’s definition of success is often quite different than man’s.
The master gave them each “according to their ability.” He knew a bit about their faithfulness and how likely they were to increase their talents. Turns out he delegated wisely.
Our money is not our own
We enter into the world with nothing and we leave with nothing.
One of the first lessons that I learned a few years ago that really changed the way I thought about money was that none of it is mine. It is all God’s. I have the privilege and opportunity to be a steward of what He has given me.
Once I began looking at my money this way, it changed my whole financial outlook and helped me to be more focused on pleasing God with the money entrusted to me.
Even if we spent our lives and ignored our responsibility as stewards, we still can’t take any of it with us. We might as well try to better the lives of those around us and store up treasure in heaven rather than down here.