How They Used the Talents

Matthew 25:16-18. “Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.”

Three servants were given stewardship of their master’s money, in three different amounts. The one who was given five talents invested it and doubled it. He who received two talents also doubled the amount of his master’s money.

But the third man chose not to risk losing any of the money that was his responsibility.  Instead, he dug a hole in the ground and buried the money there, not using it in any way that would benefit his master or anyone else.  He chose to play it safe; he decided not to take any risks or put himself to any effort.  In the absence of his master, he plopped the money in the ground, covered it up, and took his rest until such time as the master would return.

The Talents

Matthew 25:15, “And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took the journey.”

The talent was a very great sum of money.  I’ve searched several places, coming up with different answers, but they all indicate that we’re not talking about paltry amounts here. My Dake’s study Bible says the talanton was $29, 085. Five talents would have been $145,425; and the two talents would have been $58,170.  The copyright date on my Dake’s is 1963, with the tenth printing being in 1992. I’m sure these figures have changed since then.

The scripture says that each of the three servants was given that which the lord felt was appropriate for his ability. He was to use the money for trade, in an effort to increase the master’s wealth. Obviously, this man was in a position of high trust and authority to have accummulated so much wealth.

What would you do if you were given over $29,000 to invest; or twice that; or five times that amount?

How are you doing with what God has entrusted you to do? Have you increased His wealth? Have you invested your life and your time wisely?  It is all His, after all.

The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25: 14. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.”

Before we dig into this lengthy parable, just a few comments.  First, this is not the same as the parable of the ten pounds in Luke 19:12-27.  That parable was spoken before Jesus went to Jerusalem. This one in Matthew was given near the end of His stay there before the crucifixion. Luke’s parable has more to do with the rewards in the Kingdom, and  Matthew’s shows us the same period of time as the parable of the ten virgins, when the Lord is not present.

In Matthew’s parable we see again the responsibility which man has, in possession of the gifts which the absent Lord has given, and how the gifts may be used or not used.  When Christ returns, the servant who used his gifts will have an abundant entrance into the joy of the Lord, while the unprofitable servant will be cast out.

For most of us, the difficulty in this parable seems to center on the servant who was given only one talent. The grossest misteaching here is that all these men were believers, possessers of faith; that if you have only a little to offer, and you do not, then your salvation is lost. This teaching makes it clear that salvation, then, depends not upon the work of Christ at Calvary, but upon our own works, upon the faithfulness of the believer and the use of what he has received.

In fact, the servant who was given only one talent and who buried it was never a believer to begin with. There is never any contradiction in scripture. None. We will look more closely at how this man’s deeds proved that he was no believer at all.

Once we understand what the unprofitable servant was, it is not difficult to understand the rest of this parable.  One important concept is that we not see the talents as earthly possessions or abilities of our own.  The talents are His goods, delivered into the safekeeping of  His servants while He is away.

Another great truth in this parable is that the gift can be enlarged and increased. The exercise of any gift, no matter how small it may seem, increases that gift.  And the gain is first and foremost for the Lord!

We also need to keep the distinction between the parable of the prudent servant and the evil servant at the end of chapter 24.  The good servant was only to give meat to the household in its proper season.  The gifts in this parable are to be used in a much wider sphere.

Also, we should note that the lord in this story did not praise the servant who made the most any more than he praised the servant who didn’t do quite as well in increasing his talent.  He praised them not for how much they were given, but for what they did with those talents. Faithful service is important.

Hang on! We’re probably going to take this one in fairly big gulps!

Watch Therefore!

Matthe 25:10-13. “And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

The five wise virgins who were ready for the appearing of the bridegroom, ready to meet him, calmly refilled their lamps and were ushered into the house to enjoy the wedding and the festivities. They had made their preparations in advance, and were not caught short because they understood that there was no doubt that the bridegroom WOULD appear; that waiting for him was only an unavoidable delay of some sort. Though they fell asleep, the moment they heard that midnight cry they were up and about their business.

While the foolish virgins rushed out to find someone who could sell them oil for their lamps, the bridegroom arrived at the home of his bride.  He and his groomsmen were admitted, along with the five wise virgins, and the door was shut.

Remember when it was time for Noah and his family to enter the ark? There was still time, as long as the door was open, for the unbelieving mockers to repent and seek shelter in the ark.  But then, the Bible tells us, God shut the door. The opportunity was lost. Their was no time to build another boat. The was no place to seek shelter. As the rain poured out of the sky, how those people caught outside the door must have begged.  I’m sure some of them were angry, demanding to be rescued. But there was no rescue.

After the door was closed at this wedding, there was no further admittance. The five virgins had lost their opportunity because they had not prepared while there was yet time.

The midnight cry had two separate effects.  For the wise virgins, it was a moment of great joy and anticipation as they went to meet the bridegroom.  For the foolish, it was a time of desperation and defeat as they rushed out to do what they had failed to do when there was time. They were earnest.  They were sincere.  But they were wrong.

What a perfect reflection all through the church age of those who have professed some sort of Christianity, but have never received Jesus Christ as their only Savior, their only way of salvation. They employ many forms, impressive in their liturgy and in their outward display. But their lamps are empty, and they will find themselves outside the door when the bridegroom comes. There will be no more opportunity for them to fill their lamps with the oil of the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow we’ll start looking at the third parable, which  concludes the second part of the Olivet Discourse and supports everything Jesus has taught so far.

My Non-Bucket List

Sorry, folks.  This was supposed to go to my “Just Writing” blog, not here.  Reblogging it over there

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Kick the Bucket.”

I never want to see a snake, or touch one.

I never want to raise a colony of cenitpedes.

I never want to live in or even see Death Valley.

I never want to go sky diving.

I never want to jump off any high place even with a parachute.

I never want to go bungee jumping.

And I never, ever want to eat liver again as long as I live.

I forgot to mention that I will never read Fifty Shades of Grey or any of its related colors.

Aging: Dementia

One of the most-dreaded conditions of old age is any form of dementia. There are many. Not all dementia is Alzheimer’s.

However dementia comes, we all dread it.  I would far rather lose my physical abilities than to lose my cognitive abilities. The dread of just being a living body with no sentient mind is a spectre that we all dread.

So, what does the word dementia really mean? Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.

Senility is a form of dementia.  So is Alzheimer’s.  There are many others, and since I’m not a medical expert I’m going to give you a website that is far more authoritative than I am for your further study:

What I would like to share with you today is some of the practical things I’ve learned as an observer, student, and therapist about how you, the relative, friend, or caregiver, can help the person who is experiencing dementia.

First, you MUST not take your loved one’s dementia as a personal insult to you.  The victim of dementia has no control over what he remembers, who he knows, how he treats the people in his life.  It is helpful for you to think of the person as someone who is being slowly, methodically robbed of himself, and who is no longer the person you have known and loved for years.  It’s not his fault; it’s not your fault.

If you take her dementia personally, you are setting yourself up for years of ongoing hurt. She would hate knowing what you are experiencing. She is not being mean or hateful or malicious. She can’t help it. Her brain is disappearing, and she can’t make it stop. It doesn’t matter how deeply she may have loved you.  Dementia is a horrible thing. It is the long goodbye, because you begin to lose the person long before she dies.

It would be helpful, perhaps, for you to find a support group of others who are caregivers for dementia patients. You will find understanding and sympathy, as well as practical things you can do to relieve the pain of your loss.

Second, learn not to try to convince the person with dementia of things he simply cannot understand. It is futile to argue, and will only serve to upset him more than he already is.

When I was doing a year of practicum in a nursing home, I was included in a training for working with dementia patients. We watched a video showing the same scenario handled in two different way.  In the first, a woman’s elderly mother was convinced that she had to go look for her husband. He had died many years earlier. The daughter argued with her, telling her over and over that Daddy was dead and it was freezing outside and she would not allow her to leave the house. The mother became agitated to the point of striking out physically, convinced that her daughter was holding her prisoner against her will.

The second scenario started the same way. When the mother said she was going out to look for her husband, the daughter calmly said, “Ok, Mom, I’ll go with you. Just let me finish getting supper under way, and we’ll get our coats on and go out together.” The mother agreed, although she was impatient. The daughter then asked for her help with some task that would hurry the completion of the meal, and Mom obliged.  When they were finished, the daughter said, “Mom, are you ready to go?”  Mom replied, “Are we going somewhere?”

Of course, in real life it doesn’t always work out so smoothly, but the prinicple applies. Don’t argue. Don’t insist that Mom be told the bare, unvarnished truth. She can’t take it in. Calm her by seeming to go along, but do your best to redirect her with something that will take her mind off her fixation, and the chances are pretty good that she’ll forget about it quickly. If you treat her as you would a recalcitrant child, you will do more harm than good.

Third, learn to bear with the repetition of stories you’ve already heard a million times; with questions you’ve already answered a million times. He doesn’t know, and if you tell him he won’t remember two minutes later. Let him talk. If you can, ask him a question about something else that will get his mind off the story he’s just told for the tenth time in ten minutes. He’s not being deliberately difficult. No, he’s not.

Fourth, don’t allow yourself to become the burden-bearer for the whole family. Insist that others step up and become involved in taking Mom for a day so you can get a bath and maybe get your hair cut. If you have to arrange for day care, insist that other family members contribute financially.   She’s their mother too, but if you quietly assume the whole burden, they will let you.  We teach people how to treat us, says Dr. Phil.  It’s the truth.

Finally, don’t be a martyred saint by insisting that you will NEVER put your loved one in a facility. Sometimes it’s the only thing that makes sense. By the time you have to make that decision, your loved one is usually beyond knowing where he is. He won’t be hurt that you’re leaving him in an unfamiliar place, because EVERY place is unfamiliar to him now.

In this same context, don’t be caught in the trap of promising your loved one that you will never put him in a home. That’s a promise that dooms you to, perhaps, years of uncompromising misery.  Promise him that you will always do what is best for him. Period.

Dementia is one of the unkindest cuts of aging. The truth, however, is that it’s harder on the family than it is on the patient.



I needed to write this today. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Originally posted on Just Writing!:

It had snowed overnight, and the older coupe  left their house carefully.  He had already cleared a little path from the front door, down the porch step, onto the sidewalk and around to the passenger side of the van.  She was wearing sensible shoes, so she wasn’t nervous about slipping. But he had always taken care of her, held her hand so she wouldn’t fall. As he came back up the sidewalk, he held out his hand and, as always, she placed her hand in his with complete confidence that he would do his best to protect her.

He wasn’t so young any more, and the past couple of years had taken their toll on his body.  He was smaller, not so muscular, not so steady on his feet.

“What if HE falls?” she wondered to herself.  How would I get him up?  If he hurts his back again, it…

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