The parable of the talents: Trials are also talents
In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus speaks about a master who gave each of his servants a different number of “talents” (a sum of money) to look after. The master wanted them to make a profit with the talents that had been entrusted to them.
Usually we are taught that the talents in the parable are our abilities and strong points, like when we say that somebody is very talented. But “talents” can also mean the circumstances God has given me in life, opportunities where I can carry out God’s will.
I should try to see myself and my life through God’s eyes: Why did He give me this body? This personality? These abilities? This family? These circumstances? Can I see that they are talents that have been given to me? Trials and difficulties, or good times and success, are all opportunities that God has given to me personally! In fact, in God’s eyes, going through many challenges and trials means that I have been given many talents!
God wants me to use these opportunities to grow and get eternal riches, and He has given me the tools to do so. If I am willing, God gives me His Word to teach me what to do, and the Holy Spirit to give me the power to do it. Jesus has gone ahead to show me the way. In each situation, with each “talent” (or trial or circumstances) I have been given, God’s name can be glorified (like Jesus did in John 12:27-28), God’s will can be done (like Jesus did in Luke 22:42), and I can get an “eternal glory” (like it is written in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Using the talents I have been given
In the parable, the servants had to tell the master how they had used the talents that he had given them. Two of them had managed them wisely, so they made a profit. This can be compared to using my circumstances to get eternal riches. The talents God gave me to work with are the body I received and my circumstances where I can do His will.
The profit God expects in return is that sin in my life is destroyed piece by piece, and that it is replaced with something new, with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), eternal life (John 12:25; Romans 2:6-7), and above all, that through all these things, God is glorified by my body and through my situations.
The master praised the first two servants, saying, “You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me.” Matthew 25:23 (NCV).
But the third servant, who had received one talent, had hidden it in the ground and hadn’t even tried to make a profit. The master was very unhappy with him, calling him wicked and lazy, and said, “Take away, then, his talent and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have more: but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And put out the servant who is of no profit into the outer dark: there will be weeping and cries of sorrow.” Matthew 25:28-30 (BBE).
This can seem hard and unfair. After all, he had been given the least talents of all three servants, and he gave back what he had received, didn’t he? But the point was that he hadn’t used the talent he had been given; he was lazy and not willing to do any work. The master’s judgement was absolutely just and fair.
Do I bury the talents I have been given?
Our “talents” can be very different to those of others. But it is not important what kind of talents I have, the important thing is how I use these talentss. Maybe I am very good at something: Do I use that to bless others, to do the good, to help and show the way in the good? Or do I “bury” it by using it on myself, for my own benefit?
Maybe I come into trials like sickness, financial problems, or maybe people gossip about me or misunderstand me. Do I use these trials to overcome the complaining, doubt, discouragement etc. that almost always come up from my nature? Do I see the opportunity as a “talent” that I can “use” to get the fruits of the Spirit like thankfulness, faith, joy etc., or do I “bury” it by giving in to sin and not getting anything of eternal worth from the trial?
Life lessons from the parable of the talents
I am the same as the useless servant if I haven’t gained anything from the situations God has given me, no matter what those circumstances were. In fact, doing “nothing” is the same as allowing the sin in my nature to grow, so the end is worse than the start.
But now I can do something with the opportunities and grace God has given me. The result of my circumstances, great or small, long or short, heavy or light, should always be that I get something of eternal value from it: where I was impatient, I become patient; where I was unthankful, I become thankful; where I couldn’t bear the others, I can love them now; where I was weak, I have become strong.
Then I will hear those wonderful words from my Master, whom I have served all my life: “You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me.”
You can read the whole parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.