Recently I heard a sermon about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, and although I’d read this passage numerous times, the pastor said some things that helped me see this in a new and very practical way, a way that I can relate to my current health situation.
Jesus tells a parable of a master who was going to travel, so before he left, he entrusted his money to each of his servants. To one servant he gave 5 talents, the currency of the day. One talent is estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, so he trusted this servant with a pretty healthy amount of money! The next servant received two talents, and the last servant received one. Then the master went on his journey.
While he was away, the servant who had five talents invested it and doubled his money. The servant who had two talents also did the same. But the servant who had one talent buried his money in the ground.
When the master returned, each servant told the master what he had done with his money. Of course he was delighted with the servants who had invested the money. They had been wise with his money and made him a richer man. And they had shown him that he could trust them with even more next time. But then there was the last servant who had buried the money instead of investing it. In explanation, he told his master, “I know you are a hard master, so I was afraid and buried the money.” Because of his foolishness, the master took away the one talent and gave it to the servant who had invested the five talents.
I had always thought that the master was angry at the servant in the end because he had not invested his one talent. Although that is partly true, the servant’s actions and words (“You are a hard master”) were self-condemning. He was saying what he believed about his master. He was afraid of his master. By hiding the money away, he showed that he didn’t trust his master. If he had invested the money, it would have shown that he believed his master was a good man and his possessions should be cared for. And it would have shown that he delighted in serving his master. But his words and actions made what he believed about his master obvious.
Jesus didn’t tell this parable for entertainment purposes. He wanted to make a point to His Jewish audience then, and to us today. How we use our time, money, and possessions tells how we feel about God. If I feel that God isn’t giving me enough, that what He gives me isn’t very good, and that He isn’t a trustworthy God who will supply all my needs just when I need it, that will probably be shown through my actions. I’ll hoard my money because I don’t think God will help me in my need. I’ll be embarrassed of my living situation, my old car, and my other meager possessions and I won’t share with others who I could really bless. I won’t look for ways to use my time better because I’m too busy resenting the fact that God hasn’t given me enough.
God chooses to give differently to each person. To some people He gives a lot, and to other, just a little. It’s always enough, though. Right now as I’m recovering from a long chronic illness, I think I’ve been given the one talent. It’s enough, but it’s not what I’d like it to be. I’m living with my parents instead of on my own. I don’t have a job, and I don’t have the health to hold down a full-time job. I look back to what I’ve lost and I grieve over it. But what I do have is good and has been given to me by a good God.
As I’ve reflected over this parable the last few days, it’s reminded me how I can invest my “one talent” life for God. My health sometimes limits me from being involved in a lot of activities, but I can still write and encourage people who God puts in my path. And currently, I know a lot of people who are discouraged and struggling with health problems. I don’t have tons of energy, but the energy that I do have can be used to do things I’m good at and things that will benefit others. The times that I have enough energy to get out, I can use to visit the people in my life that mean a lot to me.
The little bit I have is from a good, trustworthy God, a God who deserves to be honored by the way I use my “one talent” life.