The Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30)
HOW SHALL WE PAY OUR VOWS?
"This is an important question with all the truly consecrated, and one surely of paramount importance. Let
us consider, then, that when we consecrated ourselves fully to the Lord, we thereby signified that
we would hold nothing back for self. That consecration included all our possessions, our time,
our physical energies and our mental attainments. And it implied the sacrifice of all our former
earthly ambitions hopes and aims, so that we should no longer pursue them to any extent. This,
and nothing less, is what our vow of full consecration signifies.
But it signifies, further, that these possessions or personal qualifications, which the Lord terms
talents, are not only to be released from the service of the worldly ambitions, etc., but that they
are to be so released, not for aimless inactivity, but for the purpose of being utilized in an
opposite direction--in the service of God, of his plan and of his children.
In the parable of the talents the Lord illustrated very clearly how we are expected to pay our vows of
consecration to the Most High. He says: "It is like a man who, intending to travel called his own
servants and delivered unto them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, to another two,
and to another one; to each according to his respective capacity; and straightway took his
TO EACH ACCORDING TO ABILITY
This master had important and valuable interests to leave in charge of his servants; and as these
servants had all engaged to serve him, he had a right to expect of them a sincere and faithful
interest in the work. Yet he did not expect more of them than they were severally able to
accomplish. He rightly expected larger returns from the one who had five talents than from those who
had one or two talents. And in the reckoning, it will be observed that the servant who had doubled his two
talents was just as highly commended as the one who had doubled his five. The reply to each was the
same--"Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will
make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." And had the servant with
the one talent been similarly faithful he would have received the very same commendation. Notice also that
the parable does not represent the obligations of the world of mankind in the use of their talents, but
merely of "his own servants"-- the consecrated believers only.
And notice also that no servant was left without some talent of usefulness and responsibility.
Each servant had at least one talent; and for the right use of that one talent he was just as
accountable to his master as were those who had more.
But the professed servant with the one talent was unfaithful to his master, and yet he evidently wanted to
be considered a servant still, and probably thought he was worthy of commendation and reward for not
perverting his Lord's money to other uses. He had taken good care of the talent; he had not turned it in
opposition to the Lord, but he had simply buried it--failed to use it. At the reckoning time, he who had
received the one talent said, "Lord, I knew thee, that thou art an exacting man, reaping where thou
hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not scattered. And I was afraid, and went and
hid thy talent in the earth; lo, there thou hast thy own."
"His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knew that I reap
where I sowed not, and gather where I have not scattered; thou ought therefore to have put
my money to *the exchangers; and then at my coming I should have received mine own with
interest." It will be observed that this servant was not what men would generally call wicked. He was
simply an idler, willing, if he could, to draw a servant's approval and compensation, but lacking any real,
active interest in his master's business. He had no ill will toward his master; he was probably very glad
that the other servants kept the business from going to wreck and ruin; he did nothing to hinder them
from using their talents, but he did not feel the responsibility he had assumed in becoming a "servant,"
nor take a proper interest in his master's affairs. Yet, as a faithless, slothful servant, he was really a
covenant-breaker, and therefore "wicked" and certainly unfit to be trusted with still greater
responsibilities on the master's return.
But let us remember that this was not a real case: it was simply a parable used to illustrate real cases.
And if the illustration fits your individual case, let it not lose its effect upon you. The very object of the
parable is to arouse such to a sense of their short-comings, and to recover them from the lethargy into
which they have relaxed, by reminding them of their responsibilities. Activity in the Lord's service to the
full extent of our ability or talents is what the Lord has a right to expect of all who profess to be
his servants; and it is what he does expect. Therefore, if you have but one talent, do not bury it,
but cultivate and use it; do what you can, and all you can, in the great work to which we have
already consecrated our lives.
Do not fear my friends if after putting forth your best efforts in the Lord’s service you see no immediate
results, remember the Lord does not require the assistance of any of us to accomplish his purposes he is
simply allowing us the honor of working in his vineyard in order to gauge the sincerity of our love, for
him, the brethren and for the truth. Whether or not you or I personally accomplish anything at all is not
the point, he is not judging you according to what you are able to accomplish he judging the intentions
of your heart.
The “exchangers” are the Lord’s people. Truth is exchanged from one brother to another and so on and
so forth. You should make use of the knowledge which the Lord has given you to the best of your ability,
in fact this is the Church’s most important work; the edifying of one another, that we might build one
another up in our most holy faith, truth is to be shared not buried.
MUCH GIVEN, MUCH REQUIRED
Those who have several talents let them see to it that they too are faithful to the extent of their abilities,
not being content to do merely what the one-talented man can do or ought to do. Such a one would not
be a good and faithful servant, and could not expect the Master's approving "Well done!" His approval will
be given to those only who are faithful to the full extent of their opportunity.
Those who find the truth and make the consecration before they are encumbered with the cares of this
life, who have no families dependent upon them and who have a reasonable degree of health, have at
least two talents--time and health--which can and ought to be utilized in the service to the best
possible advantage. Then there are those who have a money talent, or a business talent, and such
should consider how these are being used. Are they largely swallowed up in luxuries, or a superabundance
of the good things of this life, for either self or family? Or are they being laid up as treasures upon earth--
in banks, store-houses and investment securities, to enrich and to cultivate the spirit of pride in friends or
children, and for them to quarrel over after you are dead?
Our talents for use in the Lord's service consist of all those things and opportunities which are over and
above what we need for the necessary and reasonable maintenance of ourselves or our families, if we have
families, and the reasonable provision against distress in case of a sudden calamity or approaching old
age, etc. Aside from these, all we have should be in active service, be they many talents or few. If we
have five talents and are using only one or two, how can we expect the Master's "Well done,
good and faithful servant"? Did we not covenant to give and to use all for him?—all our money, all
our time, all our influence, all our mental activity, all our physical ability? After providing things decent and
honest for ourselves and those dependent upon us, let us judiciously appropriate our talents to what we
profess to consider the chief business of life. Here are the testing points of true loyalty and devotion. Let
us ponder them well and not lightly set them aside.
FORMER OPPORTUNITIES LOST
But observe further what the Lord has to say about this "wicked and slothful servant." He says: "Take
the talent from him and give it unto him which hath ten talents; for unto every one that hath
[made use of his talents] shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath
not [made use of his talent] shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the
unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The outer darkness here referred to is in contrast with the inner light of the holy place of favor
and communion and instruction from God, symbolized in the Tabernacle. The testing comes on the
return of the Master. Then the faithful servants shall enter into fuller joys and privileges and blessings,
while the unfaithful will go into the outer darkness of error and ignorance concerning God's plans and
ways, which envelops the world in general, and their neglected opportunities for more abundant service will
go as a reward to those who are already earnest and active, and whose earnest and faithful labors will in
due time be abundantly rewarded.
As we thus view our Lord's teaching, we see that our only security as sons of God and joint-
heirs with Christ is in activity in the service of the truth. Well, says one, I see very few doing that.
Very true: only a few will do it. But that precious few are the Lord's jewels. Are you one of them? Ah, that
is the point to be considered. No matter how few they are, or whether you ever saw or knew of any such,
that does not alter the conditions of our calling. "This is the way: walk ye in it." One, at least, has
trodden it before. Look for his foot-prints and follow him, and "He will give strength unto his people,"
even though they walk alone, as he did, without the cheering companionship of fellow-travelers.
"LO, I AM WITH YOU"
But think not that you are traveling alone in this narrow way. The Lord has now a consecrated
people, a faithful band of servants who, with every talent consecrated, are steadily pursuing
their course in the narrow way. (Onward Christian Solider) We know some of them by name and
by character and by their steady and progressive activity in the blessed work. Not many of them
have five talents, but a good many have two or three, and some only one. Quietly and unobtrusively
(not conspicuous or attracting any undue attention to themselves) they go about from day to day
preaching the wonderful words of life, and God is with them and is leading them on. Their hearts
are full of joy and hope and they are kept securely amidst all the perils of this evil day. None are as clear
in their apprehension and appreciation of truth as those who are fully enlisted in its service (This
is a fact which anyone who is actively engaged in the Master’s service knows to be true).
Let all who would run the race successfully look well to their zeal and activity in the Lord's work.
If we bury our one or our many talents under a weight of worldly cares and encumbrances which might be
avoided or set aside; if we bury them under worldly ambitions for either self or family-- whether this be by
wasting consecrated time upon science (for example the endless debate over evolutionary theories),
philosophy, music or art; or upon business, politics or pleasures; or in pampering pride and appetite --
then as unfaithful servants we will sooner or later go into outer darkness, by being caught up in some one
of the many snares of this "evil day," and will be led further and further into error and away from truth
(one of the Adversaries best methods).
Mark well that it is not a case of such unfaithful servants being liable to get into outer darkness,
into error: it is a case of must. The Master's orders are peremptory and decisive: "Cast the
unprofitable servant into outer darkness." The light now shining is not for the unfaithful, but for the
faithful servants; and no matter how clearly the unfaithful may have seen and understood the deep things
of God, and no matter how he may have enjoyed them, if he has not loved them so as to serve them and
to sacrifice his conveniences for them, he is unworthy of them and must go out into the outer darkness of
the world in general. With these as with the world the disappointment of theories and plans in the
great time of trouble will ere long bring the weeping and gnashing of teeth foretold."
INDEX OF PARABLES