In this parable the main theme is stewardship. It answers question on how to handle all the gifts of nature and grace which God has given us. To be a true steward, they should be handled wisely, responsibly and productively. They should yield a profit or bear fruit. It does not matter how many gifts we have received; what matters is our generosity in putting them to good use. We will be judged by God based on our stewardship at the end of time.
This parable gives us five points to be considered in pursuing the virtue of stewardship:
First, God gives to every man according to his several ability (see Matthew 25:15). Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required” (Lk 12:48). The true standard for distribution of wealth is not, as expressed by the Marxist view, “to each according to his need,” but rather to each “according to his ability.” The reason lies in the fact that without ability, even that which a man receives shall be wasted, neglected, or diminished, and in the law of economic progress there can never be, in the final analysis, any substitute for ability.
“Some of us are too quick to assume that we are the second- and third-string players or that we are spiritual klutzes. We forget that God, in his perfect judgment, adjusts credit and blame to allow for the circumstances of the individual in question. The gospel is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ arrangement in that regard. God puts us all in different circumstances in this life and judges us accordingly. In the Parable of the Talents, it didn’t matter that one servant had been given five talents and the other only two. What mattered most was what both servants did with what God gave them. The Master said to each of them, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’ (“Matt. 25:21Matthew 25:21). It is better to be a faithful second-string player with limited talents (pun intended) than to be an unfaithful superstar” (Following Christ: The Parable of the Divers and More Good News, 34.).
Second, gifts and graces are not only to be preserved but to be develop to make it productive for the common good of all.
“Now we come to the one-talent servant (see “Mt 25:26-30). We are saddened and disappointed in this part of the drama because first there was an excuse, then a display of the fear that caused him to hide the talent. He had been afraid to assume the responsibility. His attitude was one of resentment and faultfinding, saying he found the master to be a hard man, even harvesting where he had not sown. There are many in the world like this servant, idle and unwilling to work for their master—interested only in themselves. There are those who become so involved in the things of the world and their own selfish interests that they will not make the attempt or put forth the effort to magnify one little talent entrusted to them by the Lord.” (Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 262.)
“Likewise the Church member who has the attitude of leaving it to others will have much to answer for. There are many who say: ‘My wife does the Church work!’ Others say: ‘I’m just not the religious kind,’ as though it does not take effort for most people to serve and do their duty. But God has endowed us with talents and time, with latent abilities and with opportunities to use and develop them in his service. He therefore expects much of us, his privileged children. The parable of the talents is a brilliant summary of the many scriptural passages outlining promises for the diligent and penalties for the slothful. (see “Mt. 25:14-30.) From this we see that those who refuse to use their talents in God’s cause can expect their potential to be removed and given to someone more worthy. Like the unproductive fig tree (see Mt. 21:18-20) their barren lives will be cursed. To them on judgment day will come the equivalent of these devastating words:
’. . . Thou wicked and slothful servant . . . Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers—. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents—. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Mt. 25:26-29, 30.)” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 100).
Third, gifts and graces are entrusted to us to be used, not for safekeeping or to be hidden away; not for our own gain, but for the Lords’ purposes here upon earth. The Lord expects us to use our talents in his service.
“The special talents with which we have been blessed—our intelligence, physical abilities, time, money, and the many opportunities given to us—have come from the Lord. They have been entrusted to us to be used, not for safekeeping or to be hidden away. These were given to us according to our ability to use—not for our own gain, but for the Lord’s purposes here upon earth. We are like tenant farmers, who, given the use of the land, make their own selection as to the crop they will raise, and they work according to their own skill and desire to work. Some have the ability to sow, cultivate, and raise a bounteous crop, but others are less successful. There are some persons who will work hard and produce, while others, lacking initiative and desire, will fail. The day comes, however, when an accounting must be made” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 271.).
Fourth, “to every one that has shall be given…but from him that has not shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:29)
Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have. There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you earnestly seek to serve God with the gifts, talents, and graces he has given to you?
“The Lord expects us to use our talents in his service. Those who use their talents find they will grow. One who exercises his strength finds it will increase. If we sow a seed, it will grow; if we fail to plant, it will be lost. One who possesses some insight and is attentive to his teacher will gain more knowledge and insight and will have growth in mind and spiritual understanding. Understanding increases as it is used. As we learn, we acquire greater capacity to learn. As we use our opportunities for knowledge, more opportunities come to us. How sad it is when the opposite course is followed, and talent and capacity are wasted and not used. ‘From him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath’ (Matthew 25:29).
Talents are not given to us to be put on display or to be hidden away, but to be used. The Master expects us to make use of them. He expects us to venture forth and increase what we have been given according to our capacities and abilities (see Matthew 25:26-30). As servants of the Lord, we should use every opportunity to employ our talents in his service. To fail to do so means to lose them. If we do not increase, we decrease. Our quest is to seek out the talents the Lord has given us and to develop and multiply them, whether they be five, two, or one. We need not attempt to imitate the talents given to other persons.” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 70.)
Fifth, God rewards those who are faithful, responsible and productive stewards and he punishes those irresponsible, unwise and non-productive stewards. God is not going to judge us by the way we use what we do not possess, but by the use we make of the gifts that are actually our own. When he (Christ) comes, the slothful and unprofitable will be cast out, not because they did not believe, or because they had rebelled, but because they had neglected the opportunities which he had committed to them.
In connection with the theme of stewardship, the return of the lord in the parable is symbolic of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. At that time there will be an accounting, and those that are found wanting will be cast into outer darkness while the saints enter into the peace and joy of the Lord.
“Imagine what the Judgment will be like for us individually. Suppose that when we meet the Master there is a frown, and He turned and shook His head and turned sadly away. Can you imagine anything that would be quite so discouraging or quite so heartbreaking? There will be nothing so terrifying to the human soul as to be told on resurrection morning that they will have to wait a thousand years before they shall come forth from the grave in resurrection. But imagine instead of that, He smiles, He opens his arms, and says, ‘Come into my presence. You have been faithful in a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.’” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams, 68.)
All things such as created things, gifts, talents and blessings are God’s, and we must watch over and care for them in honor of Him and in the sanctification of man. Jesus warns us in a parable to be faithful, responsible, and productive stewards , because when he comes again, we will be judged for our stewardship (Lk 12:41-48). Let us, therefore, make good use of the gifts, talents, time, and resources He gives us for his glory and for every one’s sanctification. “Be fruitful!” (Gn 1:28)