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!