14 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. 15 To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey.
16 “After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. 18 But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.
19 “Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
22 “The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
24 “Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25 So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? 27 In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. 28 Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. 29 Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them.
Sometimes I have a hard time with parables. I know that they are supposed to be stories that made sense to those Jesus taught when he walked this earth, and that we can generally extrapolate to our time the meaning of the stories. This one was always interesting to me as I think about how the owner gives his servants large sums of money to work with when he is gone. When I heard this story as I was growing up, I always felt bad for the guy who took care of the money but didn’t gain any. I always felt like he did the safe thing and that should be ok, but as I have gotten older, I see that that is not what God wants us to do with the things we have been blessed with. When I read this story, in some ways, I feel like it would be as if I would tell the person who watches our dog Reggie to train him and to renovate our house when we are gone instead of just caring for everything the way that it is. Obviously in those days, travel took a very long time, and someone needed to manage the owner’s affairs. He expected that they would be managed well, and he would come back to a growth that would have happened had he been there as he was a shrewd businessman.
There are many commentaries on the “parable of the talents.” There is a play on words for us because in Biblical times a talent meant a very large sum of money. The owner gave each man what he thought he was capable of using to make more money to build the owner’s wealth. God gives us all some ability to help with building the Kingdom. We all know that in this world, any entity needs money to thrive in this world – including churches. Budgets include everything that happens in the church – from salaries to utilities to snow plowing to outreach with activities such as Vacation Bible School. Individually we are not able to do all of the work or fund all of the projects, but that is the reason for the church – so it can be done in community, by the community. Just like the owner gave his servants an amount of money, God gives us an amount of talent that we can use to further his kingdom. Maybe your talent is fundraising for worthy causes or maybe it is finding ways to use things and spaces that are underutilized to help save money. Maybe it is bringing new people in the door to further the kingdom. Whatever our talent is, we are to use it for God. We are not meant to bury it so that it stays hidden until it is pulled out of us. We are to put it out there, take some risks. One of the commentaries stressed this – that if we don’t take risks, we will never see what potential God has given to us. That commentary also stressed that the owner knew what each man could handle and gave each the right amount. This particular commentary stated that God gives us what we need to do the job we should be doing. This notion comes back to Joe’s sermon from Sunday that the trees know when to produce more nuts – it is part of the whole circle of life. God gives the trees what they need, and God gives us what we need. We just need to be willing to ask God what we are to be doing. I just got my letter from Joe today about my giving to the church, and it sounds like there are some exciting things coming up in terms of finding service opportunities for people. Take those risks – you never know what new relationships, what new skills, and what new passions you may find!
by Janet Waryck
For Pondering & Prayer
Can you think about a time when you had an opportunity to do something that seemed out of your comfort zone, and you passed? Do you regret that? Or vice versa, is there a time you can think of that you took the opportunity and even though you may have been scared, you learned something or helped someone or just had a great time? Let’s ask God to show us our next challenge and be ready to step up to that challenge, confident that God will provide what we need.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to look to you and have confidence in you, that when you lead us to try something new, you will provide what we need for that time. Help us to always strive to push ourselves a bit out of our comfort zone to further your kingdom. Amen.