“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. “He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
(Matthew 25:14-30 ESV)
Today we conclude the parable of the talents. Yesterday we saw the praise and rewards God will give to those Christians who live good and faithful lives for Him on this earth. Today we see how God will respond to those who don’t.
The third servant had received just one talent. But rather than putting it to use as the other two servants did, he had buried in the ground. When it came time to account for what he did with the money entrusted to him he had nothing to show his master.
From this man’s explanation we can see that he had a every negative view of his master. He “knew” the master was a hard man. He thought the master was dishonest (reaping where he did not sow; gathering where he had scattered no seed). As a result he was afraid (who wouldn’t be?) and that caused him to hide his talent in the ground.
This is exactly how many (too many) people approach God. They think He is a demanding tyrant who is looking for reasons to punish them when in fact He is a benevolent, forgiveness-offering Father who is looking for opportunities to praise and reward His children as we learned yesterday.
This servant does not represent atheists or others who openly reject God. He represents those who call themselves Christians and profess to belong to Him but really don’t.
The sign of belonging to God is fruitful service – a life that is demonstrably lived for Him. This is only possible by having God Himself – in the form of the Holy Spirit – reside in us. It is only via the Holy Spirit that a fruitful life can be lived [Galatians 5:22-23]. If one does not have the Holy Spirit they will have the wrong impression of God and they will not live a life that serves Him.
Such people are wicked because they besmirch the character of God through their incorrect assessment of Him, which they likely propagate to others. They are also slothful because they do nothing with the talents God has given them. They waste their lives living for themselves.
Notice that this servant’s excuses actually confirm this. If he truly believed that his master was a cruel man he would have done something with his talent – even invested it so that it would earn interest – to avoid punishment. But the fact that he didn’t even do that shows that he had no regard for his master at all. He was a pretender who was caught off-guard by the fact that His master called Him to account.
When Jesus returns He will reckon with all His disciples to see which truly belong to Him. The proof thereof will be in the lives they led. It won’t be enough to profess to follow Jesus. What will matter is putting that profession into practice.
Those who do not practice what they profess will be cast into the outer darkness. They will be be proven to not belong to Him and will be separated from Him (in hell) forever. There they will regret their decision with weeping and gnashing of teeth for all eternity.
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