You wicked, lazy slave, . . . you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
The first two servants in Jesus’ parable of the talents were faithful to obey what the master asked them to do. As a result, the master rewarded them with much.
Notice the response, though, of the third servant: “The one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours’” (vv. 24–25). Apparently this third slave forgot all about the master. He probably figured the master wasn’t coming back, so he started using his life as he wanted to use it. The master’s return caught him by surprise. So when the master came back, he panicked and all he could think to do was to make excuses about why he hadn’t obeyed the master’s command. He starts accusing the master. He says, “The reason I did this is because you are a cruel person. You sow where you do not own land. And you reap property that is not your own. That’s why I was lazy and did not do what you told me to do.” By the way, this is how unbelievers treat God. There are many people out there right now who profess to be believers, but as soon as their back is up against the wall, they start attacking the character of God. It simply reveals they never knew God to begin with.
Notice how the master responds: “You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest” (vv. 26–27). Now I don’t think the master is admitting to what he was accused of. I think what he is saying to the third slave is this: “If you really thought I was cruel and unfair, then shouldn’t you have done what I asked you to do? Shouldn’t you at least have put my money in the bank where it would have earned interest every year? No, the problem is your wickedness and your laziness.”
This verse reminds me of what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:19 about the Day of Judgment. He says that on that day, every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be accountable to God. When the great judgment comes, no excuses will be acceptable in God’s eyes. And notice what the master said about this third slave. He said, “Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents” (v. 28).
That leads to the fourth principle. Our faithfulness in using our opportunities here on earth has eternal consequences. Why take away from the one who only had the one talent and give it to the one who had ten talents? Jesus said, “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (v. 29).
Jesus doesn’t end this parable the way I would have ended it. You see, if I were to end this story, I would say something like, “He who has little in this life will have a great deal in the next life. And he who has a great deal in this life, will have very little in the next life.” Doesn’t that seem fairer to you? It doesn’t sound right to say, “He who has little will lose what he has in the next life. And he who has much will have more in the next life.”
But that’s exactly what Jesus is saying when it comes to opportunities for serving Him. If you have been faithful to use what God has given you in this life, then you will have even more in the next life. If you have been unfaithful to use what you have in this life, you will have even less in the next life.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Talent Search,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.