Written by Dawn Rutan
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 has always disturbed me a little bit. Perhaps it’s the accountant in me who says, “When you’re handling someone else’s money you have to be extra careful.” I certainly agree with the statement that the servant should have at least invested the money to earn a little interest (though at today’s bank interest rates it’s hardly worth it!). But I’m not one to take a lot of risk in hopes of getting a good return on investment.
As I read the story again this week, it became clear to me that Jesus wasn’t talking so much about money or abilities, but about faith. The first two servants in the parable showed evidence of faith. They trusted that their master had confidence in them. They believed that he would not condemn them for taking a risk, even if it didn’t pay off. They weren’t afraid of the consequences. But the third servant lived in fear instead of faith. He was afraid of the master and he feared what might happen if he lost the money entrusted to him. His fears ruled his decisions because he lacked faith. He probably thought he was doing his job by protecting the master’s resources, but he missed out on the commendation the others received: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
That is where the rubber meets the road. We may think we’re doing well in handling the resources and gifts entrusted to us, but we can do that without actually exercising much faith. There are plenty of unbelievers who are running large companies through human ingenuity. Believers are called to a higher standard. Certainly knowledge and ability are required, but so is faith. We can pray for guidance from the only One who knows all things. We can trust that God will accomplish His purposes through us. And we can believe that He will reward those who diligently seek to do our best for Him.
Andrew Murray wrote a challenging little book called Living a Prayerful Life. He points out that prayer is impossible except for the grace of God.
“What folly to think that all other blessings must come from Him, but that prayer, on which everything else depends, must be obtained by personal effort! …He only asks that I, with childlike confidence, wait upon Him and glorify Him… Learn from our Lord Jesus how impossible it is to walk with God, obtain God’s blessing or leading, or do His work joyously and fruitfully apart from close, unbroken fellowship with the One who is our living fountain of spiritual life and power… Our first work, therefore, ought to be to come into God’s presence not with our ignorant prayers, not with many words and thoughts, but in the confidence that the divine work of the Holy Spirit is being carried out within us.”
To be good stewards of all that God has entrusted to us requires that we be in close communion with Him. That is what enables us to take risks, knowing that God knows far more than we do. It only looks like a risk from our limited human perspective. The better we know our Father, the more we can trust that He will be pleased with us, even if things don’t turn out quite like we expect. The more we exercise faith in Him, the more faith we’ll have to exercise in the future. But if we rely on our own understanding, the less we’ll trust in our good Father. That’s what I think Jesus was getting at when He said, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29 ESV). The final judgment is not about how many talents you have to give Him, but about whether you know heart of the Master who gave them to you.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
© 2017 Dawn Rutan. The views stated may or may not reflect the beliefs of the pastor or leadership of Dulin’s Grove Church.