Hunkered Down Devotion

Matthew 25:14-30 (VOICE)
Jesus: 14 This is how it will be. It will be like a landowner who is going on a trip. He instructed his slaves about caring for his property. 15 He gave five talents to one slave, two to the next, and then one talent to the last slave—each according to his ability. Then the man left.
16 Promptly the man who had been given five talents went out and bartered and sold and turned his five talents into ten. 17 And the one who had received two talents went to the market and turned his two into four. 18 And the slave who had received just one talent? He dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money there.
19 Eventually the master came back from his travels, found his slaves, and settled up with them. 20 The slave who had been given five talents came forward and told his master how he’d turned five into ten; then he handed the whole lot over to his master.
Master: 21 Excellent. You’ve proved yourself not only clever but loyal. You’ve executed a rather small task masterfully, so now I am going to put you in charge of something larger. But before you go back to work, come join my great feast and celebration.
22 Then the slave who had been given two talents came forward and told his master how he’d turned two into four, and he handed all four talents to his master.
Master: 23 Excellent. You’ve proved yourself not only clever but loyal. You’ve executed a rather small task masterfully, so now I am going to put you in charge of something larger. But before you go back to work, come join my great feast and celebration.
24 Finally the man who had been given one talent came forward.
Servant: Master, I know you are a hard man, difficult in every way. You can make a healthy sum when others would fail. You profit when other people are doing the work. You grow rich on the backs of others. 25 So I was afraid, dug a hole, and hid the talent in the ground. Here it is. You can have it.
26 The master was furious.
Master: You are a pathetic excuse for a servant! You have disproved my trust in you and squandered my generosity. You know I always make a profit! 27 You could have at least put this talent in the bank; then I could have earned a little interest on it! 28 Take that one talent away, and give it to the servant who doubled my money from five to ten.
29 You see, everything was taken away from the man who had nothing, but the man who had something got even more. 30 And as for the slave who made no profit but buried his talent in the ground? His master ordered his slaves to tie him up and throw him outside into the utter darkness where there is miserable mourning and great fear.


This story from Jesus is one that can be perplexing.  On one level, it’s pretty straight forward, a clear message to use what you have.  That is what is being communicated through the interactions between the master (God) and each of the servants (us).

The important aspect of each servant’s response was not how much they did with the talents they were given, but that they took what they were given, and they did something with it.  The question of ‘how many talents?’ isn’t that important to Jesus.

The hard to swallow element of the story is the interaction between the master and the last servant, the one who – in fear of messing up or disappointing his master – hides the single talent he was given and returns it to the master.

This part is hard, because while this servant certainly isn’t as impressive as the first two, he could have done worse, right?  The third servant didn’t increase his talent, but he didn’t lose it either.  Given what we know about the situation, his decision doesn’t seem completely unreasonable.

But the master in the story doesn’t see it that way, and in his anger takes everything away from that servant.  Of course, the uncomfortable part is that the master in the story is God and we are the servants.  That leaves the impression that the message for us is simply that God judges us by what we produce.

But this interpretation misses a crucial piece of the story.  To get a full picture of what Jesus is saying through this story, we must look at how it begins.  In the story Jesus tells, it begins with the master giving each of his servants’ talents.

In another story about servants and masters, Jesus proclaims ‘If you are given much, much will be required of you. If much is entrusted to you, much will be expected of you. (Luke 12:48)’  and that is the message from this story as well.  Jesus is reminding us that we have been given gifts (or talents, if you will) and that our appropriate response is to put the gifts and talents we have been given to good use.

God doesn’t expect us to conjure talents out of the air or even create things on our own, but God does expect us to use the gifts that he has so graciously given us – anything less than that is a waste.  The more talents you have been given, the more gifts you have, the greater the responsibility to use, share, and multiply those gifts.

Sharing God’s Love,
Chip

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the gifts we have been given. Amen.

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