Matthew 25:14-30 is a popular passage. The Luke version is also where we get the paraphrased saying, “If you can’t trust somebody with the little things, you surely can’t trust them with the big things.” To better understand this, let’s break it down some.
It’s as if a man who’s going on a journey, summoned his slaves, and entrusted his property to them:
A = 5 talents given
B = 2 talents given
C = 1 Talent given
To each, according to their ability, then he went away.
A → Immediately went off and traded with the 5 talents that he was given → made 5 more
B → Made more
C → Dug a hole in the ground, hiding his Master’s money.
After a long time, the slaves’ Master returned, and he settled their accounts
A: “Master, you gave me 5 and see, I’ve made 5 more.”
“Well done, good and trustworthy slave/servant, you have been trustworthy in a few things. Therefore, I’ll put you in charge of many things. Enter into your Master’s joy.”
B: “Well done…” (same as A)
C: “Master, I knew you were a harsh man, reaping where you don’t sow, gathering where you didn’t scatter seed, so I was afraid. And therefore, I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here it is back.”
Master: “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew my (reputation), did you? Then you should have invested my money with the bankers. Then I would have received interested. Take the talent from him and give it to the one with 10.”
For those who have, more will be given, and they will have abundance. From those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
A scripture verse that’s almost as popular as John 3:16, or “Judge not, lest you be judged”, is where James wrote, “Faith without works is dead.” I can see this in several aspects in response to this passage:
Using your gifts to witness to others
A → left immediately and gained 5 disciples
B → used his gifts and gained more
C → didn’t witness at all, for he was afraid to do anything…so he just didn’t.
While in seminary, there was a church where I volunteered to help build up their youth program. The problem was that, though the helpers were all excited about sharing about Jesus and the point of the youth group, the leadership was more excited about numbers than anybody hearing anything about Jesus. Everybody often prayed for Jesus to send kids, and He did, but once all these kids came, the leadership was actually afraid to tell them anything about Jesus (they wouldn’t even pray before snacks!). So within the first couple of weeks, the Lord began to take the kids away. The youth group quickly diminished to a small handful of kids, still who had no idea about who Jesus was or even what the building (the church) that they always met at even was.
There was also a new church that had developed near where I was serving soon after seminary. It was a big church with lots of members and lots of youth. The youth group though was more about games and a lack of rules than it was about building the youth up in Christ. At first, youth from all around were leaving their churches (even ours) to attend this one. But after about a year, as many of the kids were dealing with issues that weren’t being met or resolved by the teachings, they began either returning to their previous churches’ youth groups, or leaving the church altogether.
As I’ve always said, “If a youth group is about quality, then God will send the quantity.”
Don’t get me wrong, quantity is nice, but if there’s no quality, then you’ll lose the quantity within time and those who attended will be worse off than when they had originally begun coming.
Manypeople in the church today are given truth and/or testimony, but they’re too scared to do anything with it. But if you’re not going to do anything with your gift, then what’s the reason for having it? For example, say you have the gift of:
- Healing, but don’t go out and heal anybody
- Prophecy, but keep it all to yourself
- Speaking other languages, but only speak to friends.
- Teaching, but didn’t teach
- Encouragement, but didn’t encourage others.
Since you’re not using the gift given to you, it’s been taken away from you, you’re rebuked, and thrown out.
I mean, can you imagine a soldier in combat never using their gun because they’re too scared to use it? What do you think would happen to them when (if) they got back to camp? What do you think their team, or even commander would do?
Imagine the Lord returning:
- “Hey! How’s the evangelism? What? You didn’t? I had specifically led certain people to you so they’d hear and receive my Word from you. Why didn’t you share it with them?”
- “So how have you applied/used what you learned in Church? Wait, you didn’t apply it? You haven’t told others? Why then did you even bother going? You didn’t participate, you didn’t tithe, sing, or worship, you didn’t make any friends…you may have well just slept in.”
- “How’s the ministry going? Huh? You haven’t told them about Me yet? But I sent you all those people. What have you been telling them or talking about? So you’ve turned My Church into a social club?!?!”
- “So how have you treated My servants, your leaders? Well, they were supposed to preach / teach on My Word, which isn’t always received well. Haven’t you read about My prophets and servants in the Old Testament? Wouldn’t you have loved to have had Amos as your Pastor? You did, in terms of his passions and message. What did you do with him? Wouldn’t you have liked to have Isaiah as your Pastor? Well, you did in terms of his teaching style, what did you do to him? Jeremiah, the weeping prophet? Paul? Peter? James? Elijah? I sent people with their passions and messages to you…where are they now? What? Y’all ganged up and fired them? You sent them away? You rejected their messages?!!
Here’s the thing: God gives us many gifts. Some are natural gifts (or talents) that He gave us when we were born, some that we developed along the way, and some were given to us later by the Holy Spirit. The reason God gave us these gifts though was to use them to glorify Him and to use them for the building of His Kingdom. If you’re not using them for the purpose that He gave them to you, then there’s no point in you having them, so He’ll take them away and give them to somebody who will use them for the correct purpose.
- What are some natural talents that you’ve always had? How have you applied them in your life (whether for God, or not for God)?
- If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, then search online for a free spiritual gifts test and reflect on those it says you have.
- Did you know you had these, or was it a surprise to you? Have you been using these already, and if so, how?
- If it was a surprise to you, pray about whether or not you really have these gifts, and if so, how God wants you to use them for His Kingdom.
- If you already know what your spiritual gifts are, then write down (individual) or discuss (group) how you have used these gifts for the building of God’s Kingdom. Now do the same about what some other ways might be that you can use them for the sake of Jesus’ kingdom.