One of the most eye-opening revelations mankind faces when coming to the Bible is exemplified in the parable of the Talents; namely, that we are accountable to God. The Parable of the Talents casts a great light on the varied elements of our faithfulness towards the Lord. Let us be reminded of four practical lessons of our stewardship reinforced in this parable.
First, the Parable of the Talents teaches us that we will be held accountable for our lives. The overarching theme Jesus provides is that we have been entrusted. Everything we possess is given to us by Almighty God. Often we see the word “possess” and recognize ourselves as owners. But in reality, we are mere stewards. Do we recognize ourselves as stewards or owners? Our answer makes all the difference. A steward is one whose life consists of taking care of something for someone else and waiting for the day such things will be returned to their Master. An owner possesses things and is entitled to do anything he wants with them. And yet all we have, our material belongings, our opportunities, and even our very lives–belongs to God. We are simply entrusted with them until the day of reckoning. Some believe on that final day we will show our faithfulness but the truth is we are showing our faithfulness now by the way we use these entrusted endowments, just like the servants in this parable.
Second, the Parable of the Talents shows us that we do not have identical opportunities or talents. Notice that each steward was entrusted with unequal amounts of money, “Each according to his ability.” (Matt. 25:15) All are entrusted with something, but each receives a different amount. In our age of equality, we are tempted to begrudge the varying degrees of allocation and opportunity we see. We sometimes want to compare ourselves and our talents. Yet we must remember two things: we are responsible for what we have and we are able to work with what we have. Jesus reminds us, “After a long time the master of those servants returned.” (Matt. 25:19) The parable parallels a sure return of Jesus to judge us, and a sure accounting of our faithfulness with that which he has entrusted to our care. The return will consist of our own accounting of our faithfulness to God.
Third, the Parable of the Talents shows that God has given us everything we need in order to be a good steward. Due in large part to the modern-day doctrines of equality, we are tempted to feel sorry about the servant who was only given one talent. Yet our faithfulness is not contingent on anyone else’s relationship with God and we will be judged by our own merits. The Biblical teaching found in Luke 12:48, reminds us that whatever we are given is required back to God, whether a little or a lot. “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required…” The one talent man was not given too little to accomplish his faithfulness toward the master. He was given more than enough to meet the master’s expectations. Likewise whatever we possess is sufficient enough to produce an increase for our God. But it will always take our effort of faith to achieve that increase. This brings us to our final point.
Fourth, the Parable of the Talents teaches us that our success is contingent upon our work or effort of faith. Go back to the beginning in the book of Genesis and you will see that God’s purpose for man was to work the garden and to keep it. Man has always been made to work. God cares about our efforts and pursuits. This is why God has included the efforts of man in his plan for salvation. Our labors and deeds matter to God. And He expects an increase in whatever we have been given. God expects growth and increases to be the outcome of our efforts in faith for Him.
Regardless of whether we are reading this parable for the first or the fifty-first time, the conclusion is unmistakable: we are personally held responsible for our lives to God. Jesus shows us in the Parable of the Talents, our calling as Christians and our responsibility to use what God has given us to glorify and honor to Him. May we ever be thankful to Him for giving us opportunities to serve and glorify Him.