“For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” ( Matthew 25:14 – 18)
This is another one of those parables that I have to remind myself does not pretend to portray the master of these slaves as the Divine. I have no hesitancy revealing that this parable made me nervous when I was younger. I thought so little my self when I was a youth, and did not think I had talents. I was afraid I would be viewed as the slave who was only entrusted with one talent, and being too shy, would hide it away.
Now I know that “talent” does not necessarily mean skills and abilities. It actually means money, or could be seen as meaning resources and possessions. The biblical commentators, however, interpret the term “talents” as I did in my youth. While I might have been shy and unsure, I did have some biblical understand and ability in biblical interpretation. Why, you might say, that is a skill right there! And you would be correct. If only my younger self could have understood that.
“After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ “ (Verses 19 – 25)
Now this is one strong clue that I missed in my youth. Or maybe it was because the Divine to me at that time seemed as harsh and demanding as this master of slaves. Oh beloved reader, how we go astray when we do not understand the true nature of the Divine. Had I but seen that this master of slaves was never meant to be understood as the Master of my life. He (the master of the slaves) was merely a character in the story. And that the master of the slaves was a much a “prop” as the slaves themselves.
“But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'” (Verses 26 – 30)
Understand this beloved reader; the Divine does reap what the God-self sows. All abilities are the Divine’s. And the Divine has invested in humanity, and wishes for “returns” that are for the benefit of humanity. So, the talents that the Lord God gave me (yes, beloved reader, I came to understand I have many talents) were and are to be used in service of ministering to humanity; or as much of humanity that I encounter. Back in 2005 (or perhaps it was 2006) I reached out to an Anabaptist media agency and asked if they would have interest in posting my writings on their website. To my surprise and delight, they said yes! From there it was short step to writing a blog with several other contributors, and from there I became the sole writer. I have counseled with people, work as a social services agency (the third one since we moved to the west coast), cook for family & friends, am a prayer warrior, and use other talents and abilities as called by the Divine. But writing & using visuals to illuminate scripture, that is my primary joy. Opening up scripture, and applying it to daily life. And drawing out from daily life insights that move along our Christian faith.
May the Holy Presence bless you with talents that under gird your faith; and may that Presence invite and encourage you to use the talents for the benefit of others. Shalom & Selah!