The man is God, and the servants God’s people, and each are entrusted with gifts. Its message is simple: Whatever you’ve been given whether it’s possessions, practical talents, or spiritual gifts; use them for the glory of God.
This is great as far as it goes, yet it leaves me questioning.
Because this master is portrayed as harsh, inspiring terror in the hearts of his servants. He demands profit, and when he doesn’t get it, he strips away even the little that slave has, and casts him into the outer darkness.
Is this what God is really like? What am I missing?
Well, first of all, this isn’t about ‘using your God given talents.’ A talent was a unit of currency, used here purely as a metaphor, of a spiritual truth.
Verse 15 says: “to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.”
They are given money, each according to their ability. If the master in this story represents God, then what is the gift we are given but Christ himself? What have any of us to give to the world but Christ who dwells within us? The servants are given as much as they can handle of the divine. A piece of pure grace, an inkling of the mystery that is God’s outpouring of love to us.
The master’s hope was that they would share it, love as they had been loved, forgive as they had been forgiven.
The good and trustworthy slave shared the gift! And the strange thing about love and forgiveness shared, is that they multiply, just like other metaphors of Jesus, such as seed sown or yeast in dough.
But the third slave knew, or thought he knew, that God was harsh and judgemental. He didn’t understand the gift of grace he’d been given. Didn’t trust the gift or the giver. This reminds me of the servant in another parable, who, forgiven a great debt, went out and was unable to show the same mercy to others.
The third slave keeps the gift of Jesus hidden. Like a shiny keepsake in a drawer, that he can admire and then put away again. He’s not quite sure what to make of it. Eventually he meets the God he has made in his own understanding.
Another reading for today, from 1 Thessalonians, tells us: “Put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This great gift of love we are given needs to be used! Wear it like a breastplate! You are destined not for wrath, but for salvation through Christ!
The end of the parable reads:
“…take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given…but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."
If you can grasp that God’s kingdom is about receiving and giving love - then you will gain more and more understanding. But if you don’t, the risk is that life will reinforce the idea of a harsh God, of the need to hide away what little you have out of fear. And it will seem as if even what you have is being taken away from you.
But when you realise what God has given to you so gratuitously, it’s as if you’ve built a good container, able to hold more truth, more gratitude, and more and more of the mysterious and outpouring God of love.
- What is the image you have of God?
- How does this affect how you live in the world?