Parable of the Talents
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.
The first few times I read Jesus’ Parable of the Three Servants, I missed the point entirely. “So the third servant buried his silver in the ground for safekeeping. What’s so terrible about that?” I reasoned. I concluded that he was unfairly punished simply for proceeding more cautiously than the other two servants, who had invested their money to earn the master even more.
More recently, though, I’ve come to understand this parable not simply as a story about money, but more broadly as a lesson about how God expects us to use our gifts to grow his kingdom on Earth.
It’s often easy to look at others—the musician, teacher, artist, doctor, minister, missionary—and clearly see their gifts. We assume they have something to offer God; we assume their skills are useful for growing his kingdom on Earth. But what about the rest of us? What about office managers and stay-at-home moms, accountants, waiters, and engineers? What do we ordinary people have to offer?
The truth is, God gives each one of us gifts, though some might not be as obvious as others. Ask yourself this: what fuels my passion? What is it that I love to do and do well? The answer to that question may very well point to your God-given gifts.
The key, of course, is to recognize your gifts and use them for the good of others. Don’t play it safe, Jesus tells us in this parable. Don’t hide your gifts; don’t bury them, like the fearful third servant did, where they can’t impact anyone else. And don’t squander them either, but instead, invest them in growing the kingdom of God.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What gifts has God given you? Do you ever hide these gifts out of fear or an unwillingness to share? What might it look like for you to share your gifts with abandon?
PRAYER: Lord, sometimes I am selfish and afraid, unwilling to share the gifts you have so generously bestowed on me. I list excuses for why I can’t or won’t use what I have been given. I know this grieves you. I know you want me to lavish my gifts on others, yet still, I often refuse.
Lord, I am grateful for the gifts you have personally chosen for me. Please give me the courage and strength to invest my gifts to grow your kingdom as you so desire. I yearn to be like the first and second servants in this story—eager to use well what I have been given. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: Throughout the season of Lent, the Daily Reflections will focus on knowing Jesus better. They have been written by a talented collection of writers, my associates at Foundations for Laity Renewal. You'll be able to follow this Lenten series through the Daily Reflections. If you would like to download a PDF of the whole series, you can do so at this link.