The master had different words for it:
You wicked, lazy servant!
These two adjectives were the fruit of the servant’s fear. He didn't intend to be wicked or lazy, but fear had forced his hand.
|Lawrence OP (CC)|
In fact, the servant’s plan had worked: he didn't lose the bag of gold (or "talent" in other translations) given him by his master. He returned it exactly how it he received it.
So why wasn't the master pleased?
Had he wanted the servant to do nothing with the money, the master would have simply kept it himself. He could have buried his own gold. Instead he wanted the servant to invest it, to multiply, to use it.
But the fear of loss was too great.
I don't know about you, but I can empathize with the scared servant. Despite knowing my calling, I let my writing skills lie dormant for years. I was distracted. I was afraid of failing. I was scared I would be exposed as a fraud of a writer.
But there is one verse in the Parable of the Talents that should help you and me overcome that fear.
The verse is one I had overlooked, but it makes the master’s rage at the end of the parable more understandable:
To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.
Matthew 25:15 ESV
Did you catch that last part? “According to his ability.”
The master knew that this particular servant had the ability to manage one talent, to make it grow into something more.
I think you know where I’m going with this.
Why You Shouldn't Worry About Losing Your Assets
The parable refers specifically to money, but as a metaphor it transcends just wealth. God has given some of us tremendous fortune. (If you live in the United States—even if you are poor—you are wealthy.) But He has also given us so much more: friendships, talents, strengths, passions, jobs, and on and on.
It is terrifying to think we could lose all of these things. They are near and dear to us, and the only way to preserve them and protect them is to dig a hole and bury them.
But does that really work?
What happens when you bury things? They get dirty. They decay.
There are no Switzerlands here, no neutrals.
If you’re not cultivating your talents, maximizing your resources, earning interest then those things are losing value. I don’t know if there was inflation during Jesus’ time or not, but the parable tells us that the master was gone for “a long time” (Mat. 25:19). Were that to happen today, that bag of cash would be worth much less even though the amount never changed.
The same is true of our talents: if we’re not using them, we’re losing them.
But let’s go back to that key verse I overlooked. The master gave each servant “according to his ability.”
The Greek word translated as "ability" is dunamis. James Strong has this to say about the word:
Dunamis almost always points to new and higher forces that have entered and are working in this lower world of ours.1
God knows our abilities. He knows them because they came from Him. They are higher forces at work in us.
Your gifts, whatever they may be, are on loan from the Father. He knows your ability, and yet He still gave you those gifts. Have faith that God knows what he’s doing. Don’t let fear turn you into a lazy and wicked servant. Instead work boldly to grow the assets God gives you—not to line your pockets but to glorify Him.
1. "Greek Dictionary of the New Testament." In The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Expanded. ed. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2010. 73.
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