The Parable of the Talents is one of the best-known and best-loved of all the parables Jesus left us. It tells of a man who is going on a journey and, who, before he sets out, distributes his wealth among his servants for safekeeping. To one he gives five talents, to another two, and to another just one. (A talent, for sake of context, is about 20 years’ of wages for a laborer.) It tells how each of these servants responds to what is entrusted to him: Two of the servants invest the money wisely and double it, while the other simply buries the money and then later returns it as-is. The first two receive their master’s approval while the third receives his condemnation.
This parable leads to many legitimate applications and often challenges us to be faithful with what the Lord has entrusted to us, whether that is the gospel itself, or the gifts, talents, money, responsibilities, or opportunities we have been given. God entrusts us with so much and it falls to us, as his servants, to be faithful with it all. We can expect that as we are faithful, we will know God’s approval and reward. “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.”
Hidden in plain sight is a simple observation: the servants are never offered a choice in their stewardship. The master does not come to them to ask, “How much of my wealth do you think you’re capable of handling?” He never checks in to inquire, “How would you feel about being given the full five talents? Do you think you can handle five, or would you prefer to have just two?” He doesn’t have them go through an application process and doesn’t pull out the Enneagram to make sure he is dispensing his wealth according to personality type. Rather, he simply assigns an amount to each of them as he sees fit. He dispenses his wealth and expects that each of them will prove worthy of the responsibility he has given them.
Yet surely the one who receives the five talents feels particularly honored. Surely it is a sign of his master’s trust, his master’s confidence, that he is given so much. Surely the master is not being rash or hasty in giving that one servant two-thirds of his wealth. Surely this one has already proven himself faithful and on that basis is now being given the opportunity to prove himself faithful with even more.
And with that in mind, I wonder if you are carrying a heavy burden right now. You may have been entrusted with weighty responsibilities. You may be bearing deep sorrows and fierce pains. You may be wondering why so much has been given to you, why the path you must walk is so narrow, so rocky, so difficult. You may be wondering why God’s Providence seems to have been applied in so painful a way.
From the Parable of the Talents you must see the hand of God in it all, for he is the one who has entrusted all these things to you. And behind the hand of God, you must see his confidence in you, his trust, his optimism. God is the one who has called you to walk this path, and he is the one who has called you to walk it faithfully. Yet he has not judged you wrong or set you up for failure. He has not been flippant in his decisions or reckless in his wisdom. No, he has found you faithful in small things and has now entrusted to you this very large thing. You have been faithful in little and now you have been set over much.
In that way your master’s confidence is a blessing, a reward all its own. He made no mistake in dispensing five talents to you, and he will never leave you nor forsake you as you bear it for his sake, for his cause, for his glory. Let his trust spur you on to prove yourself faithful, his confidence motivate you to prove yourself worthy—worthy of the weighty responsibility he has placed into your hands.