When you think of the character of a Christian, what comes to mind? For some, we may think of loving, patient, kindness, giving, self-less, etc. (at least I hope this describes most Christians you know). Although all of these characteristics are important, I think many of us overlook one trait that our Lord often spoke about and held in high regard…faithfulness. In fact, the Bible teaches us that faithfulness (to the Word, to God, to His work) is a mark of a true believer. Sadly, we often hear how faithful God is to us (and He is), but rarely hear about the importance of being a faithful servant to our Master.
The Parable of the Talent is a great depiction of a faithful Christian. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the kingdom of heaven and begins telling them this parable of the talents. The parable involves a master, his three slaves, and the master’s talents (a measurement of gold, silver, money, etc.).The master represents Christ and the slaves represent believers and unbelievers. The story as told by Jesus, says the master was going away on a journey, and entrusted his slaves with his talents to manage while he was away. When the master returns home from his journey, his slaves show him what they did with the talents they were given.
Let’s examine the slaves in more detail:
#1- The Slave’s Portion
The master gave each slave a talent. The talent did not belong to the slave, it was entrusted to the slave. It belonged to the master (vs 14). Also notice, that the master gave each slave the amount he wanted them to have; One slave had five talents, one had two talents, and the other slave was given one talent. Finally, notice that the amount of the talents given to each slave was given according to their own ability (vs 15). The slaves didn’t ask the master to give them a certain amount of talents, the master decided how much, and to whom.
#2- The Slave’s Character
In the parable, two of the slaves immediately went out and starting working. This implies they had a sense of urgency, didn’t waste any time, and were eager to do the work of their master. It also appears these slaves were hard-working, searched for opportunity, put in effort, for the Scripture says they “went and traded” (vs 16). Lastly, not only did these slaves spend their time working diligently for their master, they found opportunities to make more for their master. They both doubled what was initially given to them.
The parable also reveals the character of the last slave. Although this slave was only given one talent, he went away, dug a hole and hid the money (vs 18). This implies that he didn’t want to work, there was no sense of urgency, and no desire to please his master. In fact, the Scripture says, he was “lazy and wicked” (vs 26). After burying his talent in the ground, he must have spent the rest of his time doing…whatever he wanted to do. His life was free from toiling for his master, he could do as he pleased.
Not only was this slave lazy but he had several excuses as to why he didn’t work for his master. He blamed his master, to the point of attacking the master’s character, saying that his master was a “hard” man (vs 24), and he blamed fear, said he was afraid (vs 25). He also tried to cover up his lack of effort by presenting the master the one talent he was entrusted with, as if he honestly wanted to please his master (vs 25).
#3- The Slave’s Reward
The two slaves who diligently worked for their master, both doubled their portion originally entrusted to them. Notice that although one slave ended up with ten talents, and the other four talents, they both received the same reward. The master commended them both and gave them more. How thrilled the slaves must have been to fulfill their obligated duty to work for the master, and to be rewarded by Him for doing so. What joy to hear their master say “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (vs 21 and 23)
Sadly, the wicked and lazy slave received condemnation and punishment from the master (vs 26-28). The one talent he had was taken and given to the slave who had the most. His master called him a worthless slave and cast him into outer darkness, a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs 30). How tragic.
It seems like a harsh punishment for a slave who was simply lazy right? Well, let me suggest that this lazy slave was not simply lazy. He is a depiction of an unbeliever. A person who is wicked, and who doesn’t have a relationship with the Master. Notice the slave didn’t want to work or even attempt to please the master (buried the talent in the ground). He didn’t appear to know (personally/intimately) the master well, he accused the master of being a hard man. He didn’t make the most of the talent that was given to him, not even investing it in the bank to gain interest (vs 27). He was disobedient, not wanting to do as the master instructed, and lived his life for himself, not for the master.
Faithfulness is a characteristic of a true believer. Although not perfectly, are we truly living for Jesus, working diligently to make the most of all he has given us (our time, spiritual gifts, money, etc.), like a faithful slave? Is it our goal to please our Master? When Jesus comes to “settle the account” with us, will we hear the Master say “Well done my good and faithful slave…enter in”?
This blog was originally written for michellelesleybooks.com. Please check out Michelle’s blog and resources.