Matthew – God’s Purposes
Years ago, while a teacher in Oklahoma with limited funds given for supplies, we knew that what little was given to us, we must spend. Everyone knew it. Some teachers were frivolous, spending on consumables that would only last for that year. Others of us would think about it, pour over the catalogs we were given to make our purchases, so we could get the biggest bang for our few bucks. Wise teachers invested in items they could use for future classrooms. But we ALL knew that with a “zero budget” system, you must use what was given…or we would lose future funding.
This passage makes sense to those of us who have had to deal with investments and budgets in our daily lives. But it goes much deeper if we think beyond materialism. There is a spiritual lesson that Jesus is trying to get us to understand and apply to our lives.
Matthew 25, NLT
Parable of the Three Servants
14 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. 15 He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.
16 “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. 17 The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. 18 But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
19 “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. 20 The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
21 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
22 “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
23 “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’
26 “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, 27 why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
28 “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. 29 To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 30 Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
GOING DEEPER STILL…
The talents represent opportunities to use our abilities. If five talents were given to a person with minimal ability, he would be destroyed by the heavy responsibility. But if only one talent were given to a man of great ability, he would be disgraced and degraded. God assigns work and opportunity according to ability.
We are living in the period of time between Matthew 25:18 and 19. We have been assigned our ministries according to the abilities and gifts God has given us. It is our privilege to serve the Lord and multiply His goods. The three servants fell into two categories: faithful and unfaithful. The faithful servants took their talents and put them to work for their Lord. The unfaithful servant hid his talent in the earth. Instead of using his opportunities, he buried them! He did not purposely do evil. But by doing nothing, he was committing sin and robbing his Lord of service and increase. The two men who put their money to work each received the same commendation (Matt. 25:21, 23). It was not the portion but the proportion that made the difference.
They started as servants, but their Lord promoted them to rulers. They were faithful with a few things, so the Lord trusted them with many things. They had worked and toiled, and now they entered into joy. Their faithfulness gave each of them a capacity for greater service and responsibility.
The third servant was unfaithful and therefore was unrewarded. Because this man was afraid he might fail, he never tried to succeed. He feared life and his responsibilities. This paralyzed him with anxiety, so he buried the talent to protect it. The least he could have done was put the money in a bank and collect some interest. There was no real risk in that.
What we do not use for the Lord, we are in danger of losing. The master reprimanded the unfaithful, unprofitable servant, and then took his talent from him. The man with the most talents received the extra talent.
What has given us that we have set aside?
What God-given abilities are going dormant in us because of lack of use?
When will He take those abilities from us?
Are we in danger of losing what we have?
Are we anticipating God’s words of, “Well done, good and faithful servant” or “You could have at least….”
Dear Heavenly Father,
As I sit here in our temporary living room while on the mission field in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, about to finish what you sent us to do, I wonder if I used all you have given to us as wisely as we could have. I pray that you will continue to guide us until we leave on the plane for home in the United States. I pray that what you have done in us will be invested in the lives of those around us for your glory, honor and praise. Being your servant is enough. Being your faithful servant is joy unspeakable. Give us wisdom for this journey called life with You. Help us to invest wisely in all we are and do.
In Jesus Name, Amen