I once heard the story about a young man who called over the phone to check up on the effectiveness of his work at his work. He called the lady he worked for posing as a young man who was looking for yard work. He asked her if it were possible that he do some work for her. The lady thanked him and said that she was not interested as she mentioned that she already had a young man who was working on her yard.
Then, he began to put his work to the test. “Well is this young man always on time? Does he do a good job?” The lady responded positively to both of these questions. She thanked him for his offer as she began to suggest some neighbours that might hire him as the conversation came to a close.
Although he posed as someone else looking for work, he was also checking up on his work in its efficiency. When it comes to our Christian service in the kingdom of God here on earth, how is our work?
God has invested talent in each and everyone one of us. God looks our abilities and sees not just who we are, but who we can become and what we can accomplish for His glory.
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25), we find the servants were each given talents according to their abilities. Each servant had potential. Potential is what we call undeveloped skill. Potential is that God-given skill or ability that has been walking the sidelines in the people that we are that looks for the opportunity to be unlocked and developed.
With graduation here, I am reminded of my grad 34 years ago. If you still have your annual, I would encourage you to open it up and read what you and many of your other grads wrote by their picture. It is quite interesting to see how much our plans and maybe the plans of our friends have changed.
In some schools, certain students have been given a special status by their peers – wittiest, most popular, best dressed, most talented, most spirited, most intelligent, friendliest, best looking, best all around, most athletic, most dependable and last but not least, most likely to succeed.
The point that I am getting at is that God has given all of us talents that we have the potential to develop. In fact, God has given us each of these talents with His hope that we will succeed and be fruitful and bring glory to Him.
The servants in this parable were all responsible for the talents that they had been given. God has entrusted us with the talents that He has invested in us. We have an obligation to be all we can be and do all that we can do in developing these talents.
“A pastor tells of standing by his father’s tombstone and reading the words, “Born 1884 – Died 1970.” It suddenly occurred to him how much the little dash between those two dates symbolized”. It is what we do with the talents that God has entrusted to us that determines how much or how little is represented between the dashes.
That is the part of the responsibility that is up to each one of us. We are responsible for what we do with the dashes between the dates of our births and deaths that will appear on our tombstones.
The talents that are spoken of in this parable are symbolic of more than just money. The talents also seem to be a metaphor for gifts and abilities. The master who was issuing the talents to his servants was giving to each one according to his ability. The master who was giving these talents expected his servants to invest, increase – multiply what they had been entrusted with. The only way that they could succeed was to apply what they had been given.
Just as a seed cannot grow unless it is planted, so a talent cannot increase unless it has been invested. Investing the talent meant that work was required.
There is always a risk when we strive to invest something. The master did not give these talents to his servants to be stored in a place for safekeeping until he had gotten back. The master could have stored the talents (money) himself had that been his intention. For the servants to invest the talents that they had been given meant that they had to take a risk.
There is an old adage that says “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”. There is also another adage that applies, “If you don’t succeed the first time, try, try again”. We all know that success is not always automatic, because it takes time and effort for an investment to begin to get profitable. “The history books are full of stories of gifted persons whose talents were overlooked by a procession of people until someone believed in them. To name a few …
“Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read”. Einstein became one of the greatest physicists who ever lived.
“Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school.” Newton, like Einstein was one of the smartest people of his day as a scientist.
“A newspaper fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas.” Listen to the rest of the story about Mr. Disney. “It is reported that Walt Disney was not only a remarkable man but also a remarkably happy man. Somewhere recently there was a story about his early years. When he started out in Kansas City, he couldn’t sell his cartoons. Some hinted that he had no talent. Disney had a dream, so he set out to conquer his foes.
He found a minister who paid him a small amount to draw advertising pictures for his church. Disney had no place to stay, so that the church let him sleep in the mouse-infested garage. One of those mice which Disney nicknamed Mickey, became famous – as the world knows. It must have been satisfying for Disney when he remembered the hard struggle from lean years spent in a church garage.”
“Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college.” It was later on that he wrote the literature classic that we know as “War And Peace”.
“Werner von Braun failed ninth grade algebra.” Later in life he became a rocket engineer.
All of these people succeeded because they were willing to take the risk and invest themselves and apply their God-given talents.
So in the parable, the master one day came back to settle the accounts with his servants. He was pleased with the success of the first two who doubled the talents that they were given. They had proven themselves worthy of handling more and were rewarded with more as a result. The master also complemented them highly, “Well done thy good and faithful servant,” he said to each of them.
Then he came to the third servant who hid what he had been entrusted with because he was afraid. The master called him “wicked and lazy” because he never made an effort to invest what had been entrusted to him. It was because of his laziness that what he had was taken away from him because he never made an investment with the talent that he was given. Regardless of the amount or the type of talent that God has given us, God wants us to be faithful in our service.
Matthew 15:29 says, “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…” Simply, this verse says, “use it or lose it.” We either use what God gave us or we lose the opportunity because our “fear” and lack of faith.
As Christian disciples, we have been entrusted with both our God-given talents (abilities) and the Good News of the Gospel so that we might be faithful and fruitful in investing what God has entrusted to us. If we want to succeed, then we must invest what God has entrusted us with.