To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability.
During the second year of the Civil War, Confederate forces were enjoying continued success over Union general George McClellan. In fact, McClellan seemed paralyzed, unable to respond to the Confederacy’s unrelenting attacks. Finally, a frustrated President Abraham Lincoln exclaimed that “if General McClellan did not want to use the army, he would like to borrow it.”
God has given every one of us certain gifts, resources, and opportunities to use to expand His kingdom. The parable we are going to study this week reminds us that either we are going to use those to accomplish God’s purpose, or we risk losing them for all eternity.
The parable of the talents was a part of a larger body of teaching we call the Olivet Discourse that Jesus gave before His death. In Matthew 24, He gave a detailed explanation of the events that will precede His second coming. Then in chapter 25, He told three parables to illustrate the judgments that will occur when He returns–judgments that will separate true believers from unbelievers. In the parable of the talents, Jesus said that true believers are not only watching for Christ’s return, but they are always working in anticipation of His return.
This parable teaches us four important truths we need to understand. The first is this: Christians are given differing opportunities for service. Look at verses 14-15: “[The kingdom of heaven] is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability.” In Jesus’s day, a talent was about eighty pounds of gold. The master was entrusting his riches to his slaves to manage while he was away.
The master represents Jesus Christ, and we are His slaves who have been left to manage what He has entrusted to us. But we have been given differing opportunities and resources to use to enlarge His kingdom. For example, God has given differing spiritual gifts to us. Some have the gift of teaching; some have the gift of exhortation or mercy or giving. We have also been given different opportunities to use those gifts. God has given some people many years in which to serve Him and some only a few years of service. The question is not “What have you received?” but “What do you do with those things God has entrusted to you?”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Talent Search” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2005.
Abraham Lincoln, as quoted in James M. McPherson, “Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” (New York: Penguin, 2008), 66.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org