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Christian Religious Studies JSSCE

Maturity and Responsibility

The Talents – Matthew 25:14-30

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag 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 five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. 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 two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; 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 one bag of gold 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 gold 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 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Discussion Questions

  1. What are your five best traits or greatest attributes? – List them
  2. In Verse 25:14, the word “it” refers to the kingdom of heaven. To what did Jesus liken it in this parable?
  3. On what basis did the master decide to give different amounts of money to each of the three servants?  How did the word “talent” come to mean an ability, skill, or aptitude?

The talents were apportioned to them on the basis of their abilities.  And note, in Jesus’ times, the word “talent” referred to money and not a talent (aptitude, ability, skill) or spiritual gift, although that may well be the parallel for us today. The word “talent” is derived from the Greek word talanton, which means “balance, sum, weight.” So, in fact, the basic root of the word talent as used today to denote the capacity of achievement, success, or ability was originally a unit of weight or money for the payment for goods and services in the ancient world.

  1. Explanation of Parable

* Man goes to another country, stays a long time, and then returns.  Man gives resources to servants, expecting them to make a profit in his absence.

* First two servants are faithful; they are praised by their master and are given greater authority. Third servant hides what was entrusted to him.

* Third servant seeks to excuse himself by accusing his master of being harsh.  Third servant claims that he was afraid of his master.  Third servant does not make a profit for his master.

* First two servants are commended and are rewarded (go to heaven); the third is condemned and punished (goes to hell). Master tells unfaithful servant that he should have put the money in the bank. Money that was given to the third (unfaithful) servant is taken away and given to the faithful servant who gained the most for his master.

  1. There are four important elements in this parable: time, money, work, and profit. That seems pretty worldly. What can we say about each element?

Time has been a significant factor in Jesus’ teaching concerning His return at the end of the age, beginning in Matthew chapter 24. Jesus made it clear that His return would not be immediate, but would be only after much trouble and the passing of a considerable period of time. While there would be signs to discern the general “season” of His return, neither the day nor the hour would be known. Beyond this, His return would come at a time when it was not expected

Money – This parable tells us that both believers and unbelievers are entrusted with certain things, and that they must give account for their stewardship. Basically all men are accountable to God for how they use (or do not use) those resources which God has entrusted to them.

Work – Both the first and second servants immediately set to work with the master’s money. It is not the money that goes to work, as such, but the worker. When the third servant’s excuses are set aside, it becomes evident that this man is lazy – he didn’t do any work.

Profit – Those who work with what they are entrusted, in order to make a profit for their master, are rewarded for their faithfulness. Those who are unfaithful lose not only their reward, but their stewardship. Interestingly, we find this same principle stated in connection with the parable of the soils (Matthew 13:12; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18). The soil which produces no grain (in other instances, no fruit, or no profit) is bad soil. Only the soil that produces a crop is “good” soil.

  1. The master says three things to reward each of the first two servants. They are:

First, they receive their master’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Second, because they have proven themselves to be faithful with the few things entrusted to them, they are now given even greater responsibilities by their master. Third, they are invited to “enter into the joy of your master,” which would seem to be the salvation of lost sinners.

  1. What is the main characteristic of the third servant that differentiates him from the first two?

In a word, the third slave is lazy, and thus useless, as opposed to being hardworking, and therefore useful. He does not “go to work” with his master’s money, over a lengthy period of time, and thus make a profit. He does no work for a lengthy period of time and thus is useless.

  1. What was the third servant’s excuse for not investing his talent? How did the master respond to his explanation? (25:24-28)  What was the ultimate outcome of the third servant?

He was harshly chastised, the talent was taken from him, and he was thrown out “into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” a phrase meant to describe the horrible suffering experience of hell.

  1. God rejoices in his servants making a profit. What does a profit mean to God?

If we were to make an equation of this parable, it would probably go like this: Resources (talents) + Labor (work) + Time = Profit Just as a businessman expects to make a profit, and is happy when his employees increase his wealth, so God expects a profit and rejoices in it. He has granted the time and the resources for men to make a profit for the kingdom of heaven, until He returns. The question for us to consider is this: Just how do we measure “spiritual profit”? I think we could all agree that the salvation of lost souls is a profit for the kingdom. Thus, evangelism is one form of spiritual profit. Ephesians 4:11-13 says It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be 11 prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare 12 God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and 13 become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Thus, we can safely conclude that edification or spiritual growth is also profitable for the kingdom of heaven. God also asks us to “walk in his ways” and “obey his commands.” When Jesus was asked what command(ment) was the most important, he actually named two: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like 38 39 it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these 40 two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Most importantly, bringing glory to God is profitable. Let’s call this aspect of profit exaltation. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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