I am preparing to preach this Sunday at Southern Calvert Baptist Church. I am going to preach on the parable of the talents. Our main passage is Luke 19:11-26 and I will also use Matthew 25:14-30 to add some details to the story.
There are two major gifts (talents) that the Lord has given to every single human being. Those two gifts are the gift of life and the gift of time to live life. The Bible teaches us that we can use time one of two ways. We can spend our time wisely or we can spend our time unwisely. Time is a commodity that we spend daily. We receive it as a gift and then we choose how we use it. In the parable of the talents, Jesus wants to teach us how to use our time wisely until the moment when He establishes His earthly kingdom.
The context of Luke 19 is established in verse 1-10. This is the famous story of Zacchaeus. This man’s life can be clearly divided into two parts. Part one is everything before his encounter with Jesus Christ. Part two is everything that happens after his encounter with Jesus Christ. Before encountering Jesus Christ, Zacchaeus uses his life, time, and the people around him to acquire STUFF. His motto seems to be, whoever dies with the most stuff wins. Zacchaeus is not interested in people, other than using them for his own, personal gain. After encountering Jesus Christ and being transformed, Zacchaeus begins to use his life, time, and possessions to invest the Word of God in the lives of the people around him. Keep this pattern in mind while reading about the parable of the talents. We have all been given life and time. We have a choice. We can use our life and time to invest in ourselves or, we can use our life and time to invest in the kingdom of heaven. Part of Zacchaeus’ life was used in investing in himself. The rest of Zacchaeus life is used in investing in the kingdom of heaven.
While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. (Luke 19:11)
This parable is about the kingdom of God. The specific message that Jesus wants to teach is; what we need to do with our life and time until Jesus returns to establish His earthly kingdom.
12 So He said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.
13 “And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ (Luke 19)
The master is leaving and has promised to return. He gives his servants a specific command to do business with the talents that he leaves with them and that they will give an account to him when he returns. I want to turn to Matthew 25 to clean some insights on what the master gives to the servants.
14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them.
15 “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. (Matthew 25)
Not only does the master give the talents to the servants, and command them to do business with those talents, he also gives the talents to each servant according to the servant’s abilities. The servant with more abilities receives more talents. The servant with fewer abilities receives fewer talents. They are all to do business with the talents that they have received. Now, let’s take a look at each servant to see how they invest their talents (gifts).
I. Servant 1
Once again, we will turn to Matthew to see what we learn about the servants.
“Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. (Matthew 25:16)
Did you notice what this verse began with? Immediately, servant number one went to work. He obeyed his master’s command without a second thought. He received talents and he put those talents to work. He invested what he received. He took those talents and invested them. This servant worked until the master returned. I remember one time, when my wife and children left for two weeks for a conference and I was home alone for two weeks. In the beginning, I knew that I would have to keep the house clean. As time passed, I began to think, I’ll clean later because, I’ve got time. Well, to make a long story short, time passed quickly and by the end, I was frantically running around trying to clean the house. This is our natural tendency, to think that we have time to waste before we get to work. Servant number one did not have this mindset. He knew what he was supposed to do and he went to work immediately. Let’s take a look at the master’s response when he returns. Keep in mind, the servants do not know exactly when the master will return so they must always be ready.
“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ (Luke 19:17)
“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.’ (Matthew 25:21)
Servant number one knew that he would have to give an account and he had no problem standing before his master because he had done what he was told. The master is a good master because, not only did he set the expectations and hold the servants accountable, he also rewards obedience. The master calls the servant good and faithful. In this parable, Jesus equates faith with immediate obedience. According to Jesus, faith is manifested in investing the talents until the master returns. Life is a gift from the Lord. Time is a gift from the Lord. Faith is manifested by using the time that I have to invest my life in investing in the kingdom of God. I do that the way that Zacchaeus did, by investing the Word of God in the lives of the people around me. Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that this is how we can store up treasures in heaven, while living on the earth. The master also rewards the servant by giving him more responsibility. The servant was faithful in the simple task and now he receives more responsibility. The final reward is that the servant is able to experience the joy of the master. The master could have invested his talents on his own yet, he chose to impart that blessing with his servants. What a privilege for the servants!!!
If you are saved and still here on this earth, why are you still here? Why did God not take you to glory immediately? It’s because He wants you to spend your time on this earth investing in the kingdom of God. Do you organize your days around investing the Word of God in the lives of others? Are you being trained so that you know how to invest the Word of God in the lives of others? Do you use the precious gift of time on your own desires or on the Lord’s desires?
II. Servant 2
Servant number two is very similar to servant number one. His abilities were not quite as high as servant number one so the expectations were not as high. The master told them ahead of time that they would receive talents according to their ability.
“In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. (Matthew 25:17)
Although this servant does not produce as many talents as the first one, he does double the investment, as did servant number one. This servant went to work immediately as the first servant did. They were probably encouraging one another to obey the master. It is important to have someone who can encourage and challenge you in doing what is right. This is why there is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian. We are placed in a team so that we can motivate and challenge one another.
“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.’ (Matthew 25:23)
Again, we see the master rewarding his servant. The master does not compare the final number of talents between servant one and servant two. He praises the fact that they both worked faithfully and that their investment doubled. Faithfulness is rewarded, not the number of talents. Because this servant was faithful in the little bit of responsibility that he was given, he is given more responsibility. This servant also get to experience the joy of his master.
In any group, there is always the one “firefighter” who puts out everyone’s fire. This group is no exception. Let’s turn our attention to servant number three.
III. Servant 3
Servant number three also received a talent according to his ability. He was also commanded to invest that talent while the master was gone.
“But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. (Matthew 25:18)
“Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; (Luke 19:20)
This servant did not immediately invest the talent. Instead, he placed the talent in a handkerchief, dug a hole in the ground, and buried the talent until the master returned. Remember, his job was not simply to protect the talent. He was to invest it until the master returned. This servant is disobedient to the master. This servant is faithless. He does not believe the master. But, he knows that he will have to give an account and he has thought about how to spin things once he is held accountable. If he would have spend half the energy that he did coming up with an excuse, he could have invested the talent and had something to show for it.
for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ (Luke 19:21)
This wicked servant actually has the audacity to blame the master for his lack of obedience. I have seen this many, many times while raising children and pastoring adults. YOU are a hard man. I was afraid of YOU. The servant spins the responsibility and privilege of serving the master into a burden. Have you ever seen anyone do this before? YOU reap where YOU do not sow and YOU gather where YOU did not scatter any seed. This servant knows that the master likes to delegate and get other people involved. Again, the master could invest his own talents by himself yet, he chooses to work with the servants so that they can benefit from his joy. This one servant spins his own disobedience and lack of faith and blames them on the master. That started in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve and God for his own sin and Eve blamed the devil for her own sin. This has been happening ever since.
Which servant are you, my dear friend? Are you like servants one and two? Are you investing your time in the kingdom of God by investing the Word of God in the lives of others? I was part of team this summer that went to Mexico to invest the Word of God in the lives of others. Not everyone in our church could go, but, many prayed and many others gave financially. As a result of investing these talents, we saw 60 souls added to the kingdom of heaven. Also this summer, many from our church took a week of vacation from work to serve at our annual Vacation Bible School. Again, not all could physically participate but, many prayed and many others gave so that the Word of God could be invested in the lives of over 100 children. As a result, there are 12 new souls in the kingdom of God today! What are you doing with your life? What are you investing your time in?
May the Lord help us as we seek to store up treasures in heaven while we live here on this earth.