We now come to a fairly long parable referred to as the Parable of the Talents. This is possibly the last recorded parable of Jesus before His crucifixion. If I were to summarize this parable in one word I would use the word “Accountability”. It is a parable about character qualities, about stewardship, about outer actions that reflect the inner moral fiber of one’s soul. Let’s read the parable a few verses at a time from the New American Standard Bible translation. Please try to pick up the context as we read and we’ll take a closer look at important points and issues along the way.
Verses 14 & 15 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey: who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and went on his journey.”
Verse 14 starts a new paragraph. The first item we need to address are the words, “For it is just like..” What is Jesus referring to when He uses these words? The answer is, the kingdom of heaven, as mentioned in the introduction to the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1. Both parables deal with the issue of the kingdom of heaven but from different perspectives and verse 14 is providing the link. It is important to see the Olivet Discourse contains a great many links within the context of these verses.
Who does the “man about to go on a journey” represent? That would obviously be Jesus. How about the “slaves“; who do they represent? The answer is, they represent people who profess to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, which is composed of two types of people–the genuine believers and the imitation believers.
Notice in this parable the master doesn’t put anyone in charge of his household–unlike the master of the parable in Matthew 24:45-51. Rather, he “entrusted his possessions to them.” The master’s possessions are valued in terms of talents of silver. I was curious to know the value of a talent of silver and remembered my 1977 edition of “The Open Bible”, published by the Lockman Foundation, had a section dealing with the value of Old and New Testament money. Back in the day, there were talents of gold and talents of silver. I discovered a talent of silver was worth 6,000 drachmas. A drachma was the equivalent of one day’s wages, the same as a denarii. So we’re looking at over 16 years worth of wages for just one talent of silver! That’s a significant amount in my book. And by entrusting his possessions to his slaves the master will be able to discover and somewhat gauge two essential character qualities every master desires to observe in the life of his slaves–loyalty and faithfulness. By checking the dictionary definitions of these two qualities we would find each word is used to help define the other, and rightly so. However, allow me to suggest that experientially, loyalty has a greater emphasis as an outward expression or appearance, whereas faithfulness emphasizes more of a mental attitude of determination. Loyalty can be opportunistic and at times rather short lived. Faithfulness implies longevity; so the slave that possesses both qualities is a trusted slave indeed.
Briefly, let’s compare this parable to the parable of the Ten Virgins. My opinion is the parable of the Ten Virgins highlights the issue of faith. The parable of the Talents highlights the issue of faithfulness. The first parable exposed those who didn’t have “enough” faith to persevere until the PAROUSIA. Though the five foolish virgins believed in God and in the coming of their Messiah, they didn’t recognize and embrace Jesus Christ as the Messiah and the Son of God, until it was too late to be spared from going through the Day of the Lord period. And please, I do understand the “amount” of faith is not the real issue for salvation, it’s the object of one’s faith.
The parable of the talents exposes who the truly faithful slave is, and who has just the appearance of being loyal. One can appear loyal without being faithful or possessing the character quality of faithfulness, but you cannot possess faithfulness, which is predominantly a mental attitude, without expressing loyalty in some way, as in thought, word or deed.
As the master is entrusting his possessions to his slaves, he does so according to a simple guideline or principle. What is the guiding influence determining how much each individual slave is entrusted with? The answer from verse 15 is, “each according to his own ability.” A shrewd and perceptive master would have a pretty accurate understanding of the abilities of his slaves- both the potential and limitations of each one. And isn’t it interesting that the Greek word translated “ability” in verse 15, is translated in other passages with the English words “strength” and “virtue”! We might paraphrase verse 15 by saying, “each according to the strength of his character”. I believe that understanding this is a major key to understanding the parable. What is the lesson of this parable about? The answer is “accountability”. But accountability for what? For possessing faithfulness and expressing that faithfulness in loyal activities (works).
This parable is similar to the one in chapter 24:45. The first part of verse 45 reads, “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave…?” But instead of having a leadership position over other slaves, the slaves in the parable of the talents are entrusted with responsibilities pertaining to the master’s possessions. You can’t escape! Everyone has some kind of responsibility and at some point will be required to demonstrate accountability for that which was entrusted to him…whether leadership responsibilities or some other category of responsibility.
While notable pastors and commentators liken the distribution of these portions of money (the talents) as God bestowing grace gifts of special abilities or skills, or “talents” having the customary definition of the English word talent, I see it differently. Let me explain. If I give you a genuine gift I give it with no strings attached. I won’t tell you what to do with it- that is for you to decide! The “gift” is no longer mine, it has become yours. If you do nothing with it (and lets face it, most people in the U.S. have at some point received gifts they did not ask for and did not care to receive, like the proverbial neck tie or fruitcake), if it gets put aside and forgotten or ignored…it was a gift after all; there is no accountability associated with a true gift. Likewise, if someone has a “natural” gift, ability or skill and does not utilize that ability or skill or gift in a worthy manner- that’s a shame; it is sad when great potential goes unrealized. However, if you entrust me with the care of an item you own, for instance a vehicle or even a young child, there are certainly expectations attached to that trust and there is the certainty of accountability associated with it. With these thoughts in mind let’s see how the parable plays out…
Vs. 16 “Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents.
Vs. 17 “In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.
Vs. 18 “But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.
The master leaves and he’s barely out of sight when we read in verse 16 that immediately the first two slaves spring into action! There was a sense of excitement, eagerness, a sense of anticipation perhaps, that seems to permeate their activity. This could have been due to any of a number of emotional factors. It could have been due to fear, respect, concern, a sense of urgency or even a sense of duty. How about admiration or love for the master? How about having a desire to be found worthy of the master’s trust and faith toward them?
The New International Version says these two slaves put their talents “to work”, which may be a more accurate translation than “traded”, but we see they immediately heeded the call so to speak; they took their responsibilities seriously and put the master’s talents (money) to work. They were actively involved with and actively pursued the responsibilities the master gave them. I want you to be sure you get the point that their activity was motivated by virtuous attitudes, especially the virtuous mental attitude of faithfulness–resulting in an outward expression of loyalty. These two slaves had strength of character!
Well, how did these slaves make out? The answer is, they double the value of the talents entrusted to them. I am not able to prove it by the text, but my opinion is this doubling happened over a period of time and was not something that occurred in a few days as in some daring stock parlay or “day trading” in the stock market, for example. This was a very large sum and would require careful considerations for handling the money. And it looks as though they garnered a respectable return for their efforts. Let’s skip verse 18 for now and look at the master’s assessment of the first two slaves.
Vs. 19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
Vs. 20 “And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’
Vs. 21 “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.’
Vs. 22 “The one also who had receive the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted to me two talents; see, I have gained two more talents.’
Vs. 23 “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.’ (NASB)
Looking at verse 19 we see there will come a day when certain accounts will be addressed and settled. Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” These words from Paul and these parables of Jesus reveal there is much more to the evaluation of a person standing before God than just having one’s sins forgiven and wearing the righteousness of Christ. Experiencing various trials, suffering and tribulation can help awaken us to the need to constantly commit ourselves wholly to the will and work of God. We would do well to heed Paul’s exhortation to “Be diligent to present yourselves approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, emphasis mine)
In verses 20 and 22 we see that each of the first two slaves had doubled the master’s talents. Not their own talents, but the master’s talents that were entrusted to them. But look at verses 21 and 23. Here’s where we see the assessment from the mouth of the master. What is the first portion of his assessment? The answer is, “Well done, good and faithful slave.” There it is! That’s what the master was looking for. He suspected it was there all along but he couldn’t determine it for certain, he couldn’t document it, he couldn’t demonstrate publicly that these slaves possessed the inner quality of faithfulness without putting them to an overt test. A DOKIMADZO type test–a test to prove genuine! The whole exercise of the master entrusting his possessions to the slaves was in an effort to discover who was truly faithful and loyal…and who wasn’t. It was a test to discover and demonstrate who would be worthy to promote to a higher position within the master’s realm. Psalm 11:5a tells us “The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked”. Here’s a principle I want you to remember: God’s tests always have purpose.
Let’s look at the second portion of the master’s assessment: “you [both of the first two slaves] were faithful with a few things“. Excuse me, a “few things“? One talent of silver represented over 16 years worth of wages and he calls it “a few things“? This guy must have been extremely wealthy not to be concerned about such a large sum but was willing to risk it all in an effort to reveal who were the genuine good and faithful…the loyal slaves, and those who weren’t. In the natural realm when we make an investment we risk a “lesser amount” in hopes of a “higher amount”, or what is often referred to as a “return on investment”. For example, we can invest in gold or real estate in anticipation the value will rise higher than the amount put at risk. Some folks invest in a young person, perhaps for their education, to enable the young person to have a more enriched life. The “return” on this type of investment would be the personal delight and satisfaction of participating in the successful development of the young person. Obviously in this parable the “master” represents the Lord; and since the Father has given all things to the Son there is absolutely no issue involved with any type of materialistic asset, which we would compare to the “lesser amount” of an investment. The point I’m making is we need to take special note of what constitutes the “higher amount” or the “return” in the eyes of our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. And what would that be? The godly character qualities publicly displayed in the lives of God’s children.
Now let’s look at the judicial portion of the master’s assessment–the consequences of the faithful slaves loyal activity…the judgment. (Remember, a judgment can be in your favor!) The master says to the two slaves, “Since you were faithful in a few things, I now will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” It would be difficult to describe the tremendous emotional high those slaves would have experienced when hearing their beloved master utter those words. Peter gives insight as to how the faithful Christ follower responds while waiting for that day:“…that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet. 1:7-9 NASB)
Now let’s go back to Matthew 25:18 and look at the third slave. As we read this verse we wonder why in the world this slave would hide his master’s money in a hole in the ground, covered up like buried treasure? This slave “invested” in “the earth”, in COSMOS DIABOLICUS, Satan’s evil world system. He did not put his treasure in a place where moth and rust can’t corrupt it. We can surmise that he did however put his treasure where his heart was. This slave is looking out for #1–himself! I perceive he is not entirely convinced the master will ever return. What if the master dies or gets killed during his long journey? Let’s face it, this dude was a very wealthy man and there were lots of robbers and thieves lurking around the travel routes in those days. What if the master decides to stay somewhere else and ignore his former life? “What if I, the slave, never have to give an account to the master on how I handled the responsibilities entrusted to me?” Maybe this slave decided even if he traded wisely and made a profit he, himself would receive no benefit from his efforts. He had no interest in contributing to and participating in the master’s enterprise but he was interested in being his own boss while enjoying benefits others provided–benefits he felt he was entitled to as being a part of the master’s household.
This slave did not even do the minimal. He basically did nothing. I am reminded of the passage in James where we are admonished faith without works is dead or useless. The apostle Paul provides us with insight and warning in Titus 1:15,16. “To the pure, all things are pure: but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.” (NASB). Fulfilling responsibilities takes integrity, being principled, being a person of character, having self discipline. Does the third slave demonstrate any of these qualities? Is he legitimately mentally challenged or, is he culpable? Let’s look at his own testimony presented to the master.
“And 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’ (Matt. 25:24, 25).
I am convinced this slave felt there was a genuine possibility that he would not have to give an account to the master. But what happened? Verse 19 is what happened! The Master is settling accounts! There seems to be a growing trend in the United States and throughout the world, whether people have been exposed to Christianity or not, to believe there probably will be no significant personal accounting, a judgment process, before a righteous and just God. Yet in His Word God makes it abundantly clear that first comes death…and then the judgment. We already looked at 2 Corinthians 5:10 in reference to judgment for believers, as a good example. For unbelievers, Revelation 20:12 provides this warning: And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. (NASB)
I also suspect most people who think they may never be held accountable have a particular thought-out strategy devised should they ever find themselves in such a situation. While they are living on earth, I suspect these people convince themselves they have a perfect “excuse” they will present before the Judge. I believe they envision themselves standing before God with a sincere conscience and pleading “I never really knew, I never really understood that You were going to hold me accountable. I heard that God was full of love and grace and mercy so I figured it didn’t matter that much how I acted or what I did or didn’t do, as long as I was mostly a ‘good’ person. So God, You wouldn’t be fair if You turned me away. After all, You could have done more to cause me to believe in You…if fact,a lot more. And since I have demonstrated its not my fault, I am sure You won’t turn me away and send me to hell…”
There is another personality type I would like to mention as having a “strategy” in case of experiencing a “God encounter” in the after-life. This person typically lives as though having some nebulous “agreement” with whatever Supreme Power or Consciousness that might exist. They would explain “Me and god have an agreement. He/she lets me be who I am, and I don’t ask favors of him/her. I leave god alone and he/she leaves me alone. I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul and god takes care of those who can’t take care of themselves and lets me be to live my life according to my own standards.” This is nothing more than the realization of the serpent’s lie from Genesis 3:5, “…you will be like God, knowing [as in determining for yourself] what is good and evil.” This type of person feigns they are god and therefore accountable to no one but themselves. May I remind you that you are volitionally free to develop your own standards of good and evil apart from God, but…God has reserved the right to ordain the consequences of your free will choices and also to hold each soul accountable; and therein lies the rub.
I believe there are many people who have quietly devised a certain strategy along some line of thought and have tucked it away–subconsciously, with the intention of utilizing it, should the need ever arise. Alas, what a sorry strategy. Hear Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14: The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (NASB)
And also in Proverbs 24:12: If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work? (NASB) Certainly there are many more scriptures that could be mentioned but sufficient are these to elicit a response of humility and reverent fear.
Well then, what’s the deal? Are we saved spiritually by performing good deeds? The answer is a resounding NO! How are we saved? What is the classic verse? For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Eph.2:8-9).
Why then, when it is time to give an account before God, are there so many verses indicating it is our deeds or works that are under such scrutiny? It is because works and deeds reflect, manifest and reveal a person’s true motivation. If you posses the character quality of faithfulness, if you posses the virtue of faithfulness, that virtue will be a motivating attitude resulting in producing the type of good works that are acceptable and rewardable by God. That is why in his epistle James stressed that faith without works is a dead faith. As Paul was testifying before King Agrippa, he revealed as part of his message that people “should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20b NASB).
Let’s take a closer look at the testimony the third slave gives to the Master. The first mistake evident to me is he erroneously assumed that the purpose of being entrusted with the money was to obtain an ROI (return on investment) of a material nature. Perhaps this slave believed the master was using his slaves to work with his money so he didn’t have to, and he takes a long vacation thinking “Hey, I can relax ’cause my boys are taken’ care of business for me.”
The second mistake this slave makes is trying to placate his master by “buttering” him up. “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering even without planting seeds. Master, you have an ability to make a profit. You are so savvy, so shrewd in the business of making money. You are without peer; you are awesome. You are ‘the man’ when it comes to obtaining wealth!
Third mistake; he feigns humility. “I was afraid. I could never come close to accomplishing what you are able to do. I don’t have your personality, I don’t have that drive, that ambition, that charisma that you have. I don’t have the connections, I don’t have that miraculous gift of being able to make money like you have!
Fourth mistake; he tells the truth. “So, I hid your talent in the ground. See? I didn’t lose it. I didn’t invest it foolishly and lose it all in bad investments and I didn’t blow it all either! You gave me your money and now I give it all back to you. That was a lot of money to be responsible for. It was actually quite a burden for me. I sure am glad you are home so I can give it all back to you. Whew, what a relief!”
But then comes the master’s assessment. The master sees right through the scheme of this slave.
Matt. 25:26 “But the master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed.
Vs. 27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
Vs. 28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
Vs. 29 “For to everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.
Vs. 30 “And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (NASB)
Notice the master takes absolutely no satisfaction in the fact this slave didn’t lose any of the money on any bad investments. Why not? Because the whole objective in entrusting the talent in the first place was to reveal which slaves were faithful and loyal. It had nothing to do with gaining a return on the money from the efforts of the slaves. This master was testing his slaves to determine their level of faithfulness and loyalty! The first two slaves weren’t rewarded for doubling the master’s money, they were rewarded for being faithful! They were commended for possessing and demonstrating virtuous character qualities. Look what the prophet Hosea recorded regarding this issue from God’s perspective.
“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge [as in, acknowledgment] of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) NASB
“Like Adam [as in men or mankind], they have broken the covenant–they were unfaithful to me there.” (Hosea 6:7) NIV
And look what he calls the third slave; this is the master’s verdict: “You wicked, lazy slave”. Why doesn’t he call him “stupid” like the five virgins that didn’t take enough oil while waiting for the bridegroom? Even a fool knows enough to put money in a bank rather than in a hole in the ground. So why does he call him “wicked” instead of foolish? Perhaps it is because we can see that putting the master’s money in the ground could have been part of a wicked scheme the slave devised. It is also plausible the slave was deliberately displaying contempt toward the master. He wanted nothing to do with furthering the master’s assets and holdings. He apparently felt he had better things to do than concern himself with serving the master’s enterprise, though we can surmise he was at ease with being physically sustained by the master’s resources. With the master’s presence removed he was going to live life his own way, serving himself. He figured it wouldn’t be any big deal as long as the master got his money back, because, everybody knows “It’s all about the money.” That seems to be pretty accurate in the world’s economy but never, ever in God’s economy. Unfortunately for this slave his plan and lame excuses were dead giveaways that he was unfaithful and disloyal to the master. His motives, his attitude, were totally self-serving…and he has just been discovered. The wickedness in his heart has been revealed. Love dispels wickedness. Love has to flow into or grow within the heart to dispel the wickedness. The faithful and loyal slaves served the master with purpose and focus while the love in their hearts was reinforcing, sustaining and strengthening their godly character qualities. The third slave’s prideful lust to be god himself was…wicked.
Verses 28-30 deal with the consequences and the judgment against the slave as issued from the master and…the Lord Jesus. Let’s take a look at the consequences first. Verse 28 reads ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’ I found this last statement issued by the master intriguing. Verses 29 and 30 are actually judicial commentary provided by the Lord. It is easy to miss this point, especially if you have a “red letter” bible. I would like you to read verse 28 again. Did you catch what the master said? He ordered somebody to take away the talent from the wicked slave and give it to the one who had the ten. Wait a minute. Why didn’t he say to “Take the talent away and bring it to me“? Did he mean the slave with the ten talents got to keep the talents? Is the parable indicating that if the wicked, lazy slave had expressed even a little faithfulness and loyalty by at least putting the money in the bank that he would have been allowed to keep the talent originally entrusted to him? Wow, did that wicked scheme ever backfire on him! That would have been a tremendous amount of financial support, monetarily speaking. But do the talents represent actual money, or something else when trying to discern the intended lesson of this parable?
If a survey of one hundred “church people” were to be taken, I predict that the majority would answer that the talents of the parable represent something along the lines of God-given skills or abilities, a God-given gift or a talent as understood in the usual, customary sense today. Well, what if we looked at the talents as representing responsibilities and/or opportunities for service? Do you remember earlier in our journey I explained, because they rejected their own Messiah, the Jews were stripped of their stewardship responsibilities as a disciplinary action and those stewardship responsibilities were given to a new agency referred to as…the church? The Jews were in charge of disseminating the gospel message; they were the channel of divine revelation; they were the custodians of the sacred scriptures; they were to teach the law of God to new converts; they were recipients of divine blessings and promises so they would be unique among all the people and nations of the world…in the midst of Satan’s kingdom.
Suddenly the Jews were sidelined, benched. God established a new agency, the Church, in part to make the Jews jealous amid severe national discipline of His physical, corporate stewards. In many ways we can view the Church as God’s spiritual corporate entity. Regarding the Jewish side of the equation, we would look at the parable of the 10 virgins. The seven churches mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3 could be, perhaps, a notable reference on the Church side of the equation. In a complementary role to these collective units (Israel and the Church), we see the slaves in the parable of the talents as rather stark, contrasting individuals. Now, as individuals, what is the greatest responsibility we are held accountable for? I think the answer is found in Matthew 22:35-40.
Vs. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,
Vs. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
Vs. 37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’
Vs. 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.
Vs. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’
Vs. 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
I don’t see a big need to give commentary on Jesus’ answer to this ageless question. I would only add the example of “application” to this principle, found in The Great Commission, which would be to “invest” your time in activities dear to the heart of God by going to all the nations and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded us.
Now, there’s no reason for me to be dogmatic or belligerent about this interpretation/application and I certainly am not. I do however feel it is a defensible position while at the same time allowing for the possibility of merit in other opinions. That being said it seems more than reasonable to conclude scriptures teach there will be meaningful, productive work for the redeemed to perform in the age to come and with that it appears there will be some form of hierarchy or supervisory structure as well. Those that loved to serve the Lord and Master during their life on earth will have ample opportunity to engage in fulfilling service for the Father and the King throughout eternity. Those that elevated themselves above God, choosing to become god in His place while denigrating their Creator to a position of insignificance, will not have to bother with such tedious employment. In fact, they will not even be invited to participate. Rather, as a result of their own free will, their own volitional choices, they will experience the unimaginable and horrific consequences of eternal separation from the Father of lights and the King of Glory, and the myriad benefits and blessings that accompany all the sanctified souls in fellowship with their Creator. Instead, they will join in the punishment established for their father, Satan, and the fallen angels as well…forever and ever. Within the Lake of Fire their pitiful and hopeless pleas will go unheard and unanswered. Responsibilities, opportunities for service, as illustrated by the “talents”, neglected or ignored, will be removed from these lost souls and they will no longer be burdened with them, ever again.
I am compelled to ask you at this time, have you admitted to God that you are a sinner, one that has violated the standards of a righteous and just God? Have you asked to be saved from the penalty of your sins, to be washed clean by the blood of the Lamb of God? Have you asked Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord, to live and reign in your heart? If you have never done so I plead with you, do it right now at this moment. Forget the rest of this book until you have taken care of the most important decision in the life of any person living. God is knocking at your heart’s door, a door only you can open to Him. Do not delay, for the scriptures say, now is the accepted time, today is the day of salvation, today is the day for you to make that life altering decision to embrace Jesus Christ as your personal Savior!
What about you, Christian reader? Does the Holy Spirit ever convict you of neglecting responsibilities of serving the Most High God? I will admit my soul convicts me all the time. Every servant has something they are responsible for in the line of Christian service. It can even change from day to day or year to year. Be careful not to fall prey to phony excuses such as not having the abilities others do or enough time to accomplish anything meaningful while handling the duties of ordinary life. Remember the objective of the Master is to discover godly character traits and display them for the world to see. Godly responsibilities and opportunities for service force the Christ follower to depend on divine operating assets provided by God’s Word and the Holy Spirit–not on our own strength. There are many, many verses of scripture that could be given, and that’s just the point. We all need to learn these verses and apply them to our daily living. It is how Jesus lives His life through us. There is no “ordinary” life if you are a child of God. He provides us with fabulous grace blessings and divine operating assets designed to equip us for service and outward expressions of inner peace and joy. All this, plus heaven too!
Continuing on with our study of the parable, in stark contrast to the faithful slaves stand those declared as wicked, lazy and worthless. Whatever the “talents” of the parable represent, by the standards of Jesus’ day, the value would have to be considered as very substantial. But now, for the third slave and those individuals he represents, all is lost. Court martialed for dereliction of duty/responsibility, they are assigned permanently into the outer darkness to experience the continual agony of weeping from emotional grief as perhaps, the memory replays over and over those opportunities and invitations that were disdained to embrace the One who cleanses from all sin and saves the soul from eternal separation from their Creator. Added to that will be some type of pain that Jesus characterized as the “gnashing of teeth”, which goes unabated forever and ever. It is the package of the term, “damnation”.
Which words will you hear from the Master? Will it be, “Well done, thou 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.”? Or will you hear the horrific indictment, “Depart from me you workers of iniquity.” All sobering words that should motivate everyone in making a decision or making a re-commitment…today.
I hope you didn’t hurry through this chapter. There is much here to contemplate. When you are ready, I invite you to examine the study within the final chapter of our journey through the Olivet Discourse.