A reflection on the Gospel Reading from Matthew 25:14-30
“Leah, Debra, Marcus, come.” Our master’s voice rings through the hall. I abandon my work and wash my hands before making my way to the front hall.
When I arrive, he points to a stack of five talents. “These are yours to tend while I am away, Leah. Be sure that you put them to good use. I will take a full accounting when I return.”
I bow before him. “Yes, my Lord.”
He points to a stack of two talents and repeats his instructions to Debra. He gives one to Marcus.
Seeking God's Wisdom and Guidance
The moment he leaves, I kneel in prayer in my chamber, asking for God’s guidance in how best to use these talents. I don’t want to squander them.
The answer isn’t long in coming, “Invest what you’ve received in building up the lives of others, and your reward will be assured.”
Over the next week, I call up my family, friends, neighbors and fellow servants. I gather them together and explain my plan. I desire to invest what I’ve received in them.
One of my family members asks me, "Aren't you afraid of losing everything?"
I reassure her, "You can't outdo God in generosity."
I worry at times that I will run out of talents before I run out of people needing an investment, but God reassures me on this matter. "I created an entire universe. Multiplying a few talents is no issue for me."
Investing Time in Creative Strategy Building
I take my time assessing things. I spend time uncovering their strengths, weaknesses, dreams, desires, talents, and needs. I ask the Lord, “Please guide me in serving them.”
Where possible, I connect those whose strengths match another’s weaknesses. I invest my talents in the service of those whose dreams and talents serve the needs of others, ensuring that everyone gets their needs met.
For each investment I make, I extract a pledge of double the return on my investment.
Understanding the True Value of the Investment
Marcus chides me for what I do. “Oh, the master’s going to be so angry with you. Giving his wealth away to these beggars? For shame. I’m keeping my talent safe.”
I shake my head. Marcus never did understand the Master. The goodwill for his name that I purchase with each investment I make is worth more than the gold itself.
I smile at him. “If this buys us nothing but more goodwill, it will still fulfill the master’s command that we make good use of the money.”
Encouraging Good in Others
Debra notices what I am doing and is curious. I explain the plan God gave me. “It’s genius,” she tells me. “I want in!”
She allows me to use her two talents in the service of these people, and we are able to do so much more because of it.
Someone else wants to invest but they don't have talents. "Start with your time," I tell them. "We can all give that."
Facing the Discouragement of Ingratitude
There are some who forget our investment and take it for granted. These discourage me at first, until I turn it over to the Lord. He assures me, "Those who take your investment for granted today are tests of your intentions. They prove your resolve to obey what I've instructed you to do. Don't be afraid to serve them. Others will see your work for them and it will draw you a thousand-fold the returns for every one of them that fails to repay."
Still others who fail to return it even when they’ve gotten the benefits. However, we continue and persevere in this strategy.
Transforming the City with Service
Every time something pays off, we reinvest the money in someone else’s dreams. Word spreads of the work we’re doing as the evidence begins to manifest itself of the benefits of our plan.
People begin to seek out our master’s household for counsel and wisdom. When they know someone comes from his household, they open the door in anticipation. His reputation grows to the city gates.
The Day of Accounting Arrives
A year later, I receive word that my master is on his way. We seek a full accounting from each person we’ve invested and collect our returns.
He arrives and calls each of us into the hall to give our accounting while he dines. I present my work, “Master, you gave me five talents. See, I made five more!”
His smile broadens. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you greater responsibilities. Come, share in your master’s joy.”
Debra steps up next. “Master, you gave me two talents. See, I made two more.”
My master says to her, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you greater responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.”
The Consequences of Failure
Marcus steps forward clutching his lone talent. “Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so, out of fear, I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.”
I can see the anger on my master’s face the moment Marcus finishes speaking. The man not only is accusing my master of being greedy and covetous, in spite of his generosity, he’s wasted the opportunity the master gave us and disobeyed his instructions.
Our master wanted those talents put to good use. Burying them was not putting them to any use.
Master’s fist thumps the table with a loud bang, “You wicked, lazy servant! You knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?”
He gestures toward his guards. “Take the talent from Marcus. Give it to Leah. For to everyone who has, more will be given and she will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”