14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15 To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ 21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
One of the things that I absolutely dislike doing is balancing my checkbook. In fact, I dislike it so much that I surrendered the job and gave it to my wife. Of course, disliking something does not negate its necessity. There are many things in life that we all find distasteful, but they are necessary and have to be done. Reconciling our finances is one of those things that must be done. Reconciliation provides us with a clear picture of what we have done with what we have.
You can imagine the shock to my system when I read the passage in Matthew 25 and discovered that God and life also reconcile their accounts with us. The text says, “A man… entrusted his property to them.” It would seem that just as a stockbroker invests in stocks and bonds, and a person involved in capital ventures invests in projects, God on the other hand invests in people. However, prior to investing in anyone or anything, we need to do some research and we need to do our homework. Clearly, God does not invest Willy nilly, but rather God takes into account the ability of every person He invests in. “He gave…each according to his ability.” This is good news for God’s people, because it means that whatever has been placed under our purview or that we encounter we have the ability to handle it. We would also be wise to take the time to consider how our own investments will perform over time. Prior to investing our time, our energy, and our effort into something we should think about how well it will perform over time. Before we say, I do, we need to consider will he or she do over time. Before we say yes to the job, we need to ask will the job meet my needs over time. God places expectations on His investments, and any investment that God makes is based on performance over time and the potential to at least meet and exceed expectations. Whatever God has entrusted to you and I God has done so with the expectation that we will do something with it over time.
The expectation of any investment is that it will bring a return. The Bible says, “The man who had received…at once…put his money to work and gained.” In order to get a return we have to put what we have to work. Money does not multiply by itself, we have to put it in something or put it to work so that it will bring a return. Friends do not just drop into our lives, we have to extend ourselves and reach out to other people to let them know we want them to be part of our network. We have to work at it to make friends. In the same way, talents, skills, and abilities do not become sharp and hone themselves. We have to go to school to get more information, study the information we receive, and then put it into practice so that we can improve our talents, skills and abilities. We have to work at it to become better. Two of the three took what was given to them put it to work and gained more. If we want more we have to take what we already have and put it to work. The third person did nothing and did not gain anything. “He dug a hole…and hid his master’s money.” When we become satisfied with what we have or have acquired we become complacent and indifferent about going after more or acquiring increase. It is impossible to grow seed that is never used and we cannot increase what God has given us if we hide it. People will never know what we are capable of until we show them, and we cannot improve our situations, circumstances, or ourselves until we stop hiding what God has given us to use.
At some point God and life will inquire of us what have we done with what has been entrusted to us. “After a long time the master of those servants returned to settle accounts with them.” The one who was given five talents brought back five more that he earned. The one who was given two talents brought back two more that he earned. The third fellow who was given one talent brought back an excuse. He said the reason he did not do anything with his talent was because he was afraid. If we allow it, fear will rob us of blessings that God has stored up for us. The two who put their talents to work not only gained increase, but they also reaped a reward from their master. The one who hid his talent reaped a rebuke from the master. If we do what we are supposed to do when we are supposed to do it, we will get what we are supposed to get when we are supposed to get it – because our talents will make room for us. When we do more than what is expected of us we will get more than what we expect – because our talents will take us to places we never dreamed of going. Perhaps the reason we may not be receiving anything more from God is because we are not doing anything with what we have already received from God. Fear is not a reason, it is an excuse. Whatever God has entrusted to you and I God has done so with the expectation that we will do something with it and by doing something with it we demonstrate to God that we are a profitable investment. We demonstrate through our actions that we will bring God a return on His investment in us. The question is not when is God going to bless me with more or improve my situation, but rather what are we doing with what God has already blessed us with? We will know we are using what God has given us because people, places, and things around us will become better. We get better as people, places, and things around us get better. Until we are prepared to be better and make things around us better we cannot expect better.
Some would say the master’s rebuke and punishment of the servant who was given only one talent was harsh and extreme. However, I would encourage you to consider that he did not even try to do anything with his talent and in the end the little that he had was taken from him. Atrophy is the diminishing of skills, talents, and abilities from lack of use. If we do not use it we will surely lose it. The one lesson the fellow who had only one talent missed was, only I can motivate me. If I do not want to lose the little bit that I have, then I need to do something with it. The hardest part of any journey or endeavor is getting started. The journey to becoming better begins wherever we are right now. At different points along the journey we will feel overwhelmed. What we need to understand is that it is just a feeling and it too shall pass. We have to remind ourselves that whatever God gives us or allows to come into our lives it is neither too much, nor is it too little, it is just right for us where we are and it is designed to make us better.
Notice that the two who put their talents to work received their better after they made things better for their master. Likewise, our better will come after we have made things better for God and God’s kingdom here on earth. Wherever you and I have been planted we have been planted there to make a positive impact on the people we encounter, the places we operate in, and the things that occur in those places. We have been placed there to make things better. At some point in time we all have to face our day of reckoning. On that day God will ask what have we done with what has been entrusted to us? Before that day comes I encourage you to consider what will your answer be; I have used what you have given me to bring about improvement or I hid it because I was afraid.