I’ve always struggled with this passage. I didn’t understand why the one who buried his Master’s gold (called a talent) would be punished. In my mind, he kept it safe, not taking chances with it. It’s like keeping “Mad Money” stashed in a secret drawer like my previously mentioned Grandma. In my mind, I likened it to depositing in a bank, because I didn’t think (or honestly, care) about the Roman financial system of the time.
It seems like responsible behavior. How could that be wrong?
So here I am reading this passage, and some things struck me.
The man who didn’t invest wisely, first of all was only given 1 bag of gold to start.
His master didn’t expect much from him.
It says in Luke 12:48 “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” Had the man “failed” in his investment, it wasn’t a huge portion. The Master didn’t trust this man with a large sum to begin with. It was an opportunity to grow and multiply and the man didn’t take it.
The man who didn’t invest wisely was afraid of his Master. He didn’t understand the expectations. He saw his Master’s bountiful gift for prosperity, “harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid. . .”
The man did nothing. He sat on the gold. He buried it.
Is it possible the Master didn’t communicate his expectations? Or is it the man who didn’t listen with the intent to understand?
I feel like that man sometimes. I’m given “talents” of shepherding, service, music, teaching, fellowship, connection, intuition, love; and I’m terrified to use them. I don’t use them in small ways, I don’t use them at all. I hide them. Because what if I use them wrongly? What if I displease God with those uses? This parable makes it pretty clear that it’s better to invest them even a little rather than not at all.
The master admonishes the man, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.”
(Note: Oh! Banks did work then as saving accounts with interest!)
Is this story really about using our “talents”?
Or is there something bigger happening?
Is this about faith?
About being assured of our Master’s ability to reap blessing from nothing?
About a willingness to take a risk because we know our Master can redeem the possible failure?
The Bible repeatedly refers to faith in God as something that can grow exponentially and as something with precious value.
Faith is the hallmark of Christian salvation. It is the only method of salvation, in fact.
So when the master says “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This issue isn’t about wasting a talent.
It’s about a lack of faith.
The man’s condemnation springs from knowing some things about the master but not believing in the Master’s ability to redeem and save.
Do you know about the Master? Do you KNOW the Master? Are you willing to trust the Master? What are you struggling with? What are you called to do that you don’t want to do?