Last week we looked at the Parable of the Talents in outline. This week we’ll zero in a little more on some interesting details that may give some insight into the topic of achievement.
First, an obvious point: the talents do not belong to the servants; they belong to the Master. We are reminded that whatever resources God entrusts to us are just that—entrusted. They are not ours. We are merely stewards for a time.
When we think about achievement, whatever gifts, abilities, energies, and opportunities come to us, we must remember that they are entrusted to us. We do not own them. This will affect our attitude, especially regarding humility and pride. Can we take pride in something that has been entrusted to us? Should we not, rather, humbly acknowledge the source of our abilities and achievements, not to mention that they are offered in service of him rather than ourselves?
Second, being faithful with what is entrusted leads to greater entrusting. The first two servants are rewarded for their faithfulness with more work! Our achievements tend to “grow” as we prove reliable in our responsibilities. This is as true in the corporate world as it is with preaching. It is a natural and obvious unwritten rule: as trust grows, so entrusting grows.
Fear or reverence of God…is not meant to lead us to a fearful inactivity.
Third, the reverse is true. Doing nothing is not the right way to handle what has been entrusted to you. If entrusted with money, ability, the gospel, or whatever, we are expected to “work it.”
It is interesting that the third servant fails to do this, and by his own admission this is due to fear of his Master (Matt 25:25). Fear or reverence of God is encouraged in the Bible, and this is meant to remind us not take his mercy for granted. It is not meant to lead us to a fearful inactivity. How did the servant think that doing nothing would please the Master? It doesn’t make any sense. His “fear” should have led to a different response.
Sometimes we can fail to put God’s resources into action because we are overly worried that we will get it wrong. Of course we ought to pray, seek counsel and wisdom in deciding how to “invest,” but we ought not be paralyzed by fear.
Fourth, it’s not just all work and no play. The Master invites the first two servants to “share in your master’s joy!” (25:21, 23). There is an appropriate celebratory aspect that follows from their work and fulfilled responsibility. Perhaps this is reminiscent of our Sabbath rest: God wants us to work well, but also to rest well. And our rest is joyous, in the Master’s company.
In conclusion, using the resources entrusted to us is good and pleasing to God. He is pleased by our productive work and wise management. It is right that responsible stewardship should lead to greater responsibility, and sitting on our hands is not a godly response. Finally, God’s pleasure in the growth of what he has entrusted is shared with his faithful stewards. It is a relational joy, which reveals the true reward of faithfulness—being in the joyous presence of our Master.