Matt 25:14 says, "The kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each accoding to his ability, and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had recevied two gained two more also. But he who received the one talent went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, 'Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful in a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'
"He also that had received two talents came and said, 'Lord, you delivered me two talents, look, I have gained two more talents besides them.' His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithul over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.' Enter into the joy of your lord.'
"Then he who had received the one talent came and said, 'Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.'
But his Lord answered and said to him, 'You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scatttered seed. Therefore you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away . And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
1) Whom does the lord and servants in the parable represent? And what do the talents represent?
Answer: The man who went to a far country represents Jesus Christ, because soon after He spoke the parable, He went to heaven. The servants represent believers. 2 Cor 5:14,15 says, "For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." Naked we all came into this world. So all we have are given to us by God. Whatever use we make of them we must give account to God. Unfortunately, not all people recognize it, so the servants in the parable represent those who are aware of being entrusted by God. The Lord's disciples are saved for service. Service is the essence of life. Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matt 20:28. Since we are to live for for Him who died for us, we should dedicate our lives to a life of service to God and man. The talents Christ gives His servants represent especially the gifts and blessings of the Holy Spirit. See 1 Cor 12:8-11. "To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." Eph 8:7 It is the absence of the Holy Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed, but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner will be won to Christ. On the other hand, with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the poorest and most ignorant of Christ's disciples will have a power that will tell upon hearts.
2) Apart from the gifts of the Holy Spirit, what other things do "talents" represent?
Answer: "Talents" represent all inherited, acquired, physical and spiritual skills and abilities. All should be devoted to the service of Christ. He distributed to "each according to his own ability." The one who could use five talents is given five, the one who could use two talents is given two, and the one who gets one is able to use one. "It is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have." 2 Cor 8:12. Talents must be put to good use, regardless of the amount. The important question is not how many talents did I receive? But what use did I put them to? Our duty to the Lord and our fellow beings is to do our very best in finishing the task given us, and developing a Christ-like character.
A noble, all-round personality does not come by chance or inheritance. It is cultivated only by trusting in the grace of Jesus and cooperating with Him through grim battles against self every day. You must not say, "I cannot remedy my defects of character." If you think so, you 'll never overcome. Such defeatist mentality makes your failure sure. One can never attain to a standard higher than his aim. You must resolve to reach the highest standard. Then circumstances will be your helpers, and not your obstacles.
3) In English, "talent" is a synonym of "ability." Does that mean that God wants us to use our abilities in His work?
Answer: Yes. God wants us to love Him with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength. We should improve every opportunity to obtain a good education, to strengthen our ability to win souls for God. We must watch and pray, receiving wisdom from on high to secure an all-round training to draw people to Christ. People with musical talent can receive training to conduct choirs and to teach music in the churches to better praise God in song.
We should apply ourselves in self-education. True education means more than the colleges can give. While the study of the sciences is not to be neglected, there is a higher training to be obtained through a vital connection with the Bible. It not only gives us knowledge of the truth, but also teaches us to trust in the power of God to control self and overcome temptation as Christ overcame. An ordinary mind, well disciplined, will accomplish more and higher work than will the most highly educated mind and the greatest talents without self-control.
Of all the gifts we have received from God, none is capable of being a greater blessing than the power of speech. With the voice we convince and persuade, with it we offer prayer and praise to God, and with it we tell others of the Redeemer's love. How important then, that it be so trained as to be most effective for good. The culture and right use of the voice are very important. There are many who read or speak in so low or so rapid a manner that they cannot be readily understood. Some have a thick, indistinct utterance; others speak in a high key, in sharp, shrill notes, that are painful to the hearers. Texts, hymns, and reports and other papers presented before public assemblies are sometimes read in such a way that they are not understood and often so that their force and impressiveness are destroyed.
We should follow the example of the Levites recorded in Neh 8:8, ""They read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God, and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading." We should accustom ourselves to speak in pleasant tones, to use pure and correct language, and words that are kind and courteous. Sweet, kind words are as dew and gentle showers to the soul. Luke 4:22 says of Jesus, "All bore witness of Him, and marvelled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth." He knew "how to speak a word in season to him who is weary." Isa. 50:4.
The influence of an out-going sociable personality is a gift. It should be used for the benefit of the people we contact. Love shown to a limited circle of friends is not true love, but selfishenss, which can do nothing for the good of mankind or the glory of God.
5) Apart from our abilities, our money is also a "talen" entrust to us, am I right?
Answer: Yes. In 1 Chron 29:14 David prays, "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You. For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope." Job 1:21 says, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed by the name of the Lord." Job 1:21.
Lev 27:30 says, "All the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's. It is holy to the Lord." Mat 3:8-10 says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it."
6) How was the tithe used in ancient Israel, and is this principle practiced in the church today?
Answer: Num 18:21-23 says, "Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform the work of the tabernacle meeting. . . .I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.' " 1 Cor 9:11,14 says, "If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? . . Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel."
Some feel that after they have paid the tithe to the Lord, then they can do whatever they wish with the remainder. That is not right. All we have are the "talents" God has entrusted to us, and we should make wise use of them, for in the end we must render an account. In the use of every penny, it will be seen whether we love God supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves. Money has great value, because it can do great good. In the hands of God's children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, and clothing for the naked. It is a defense for the oppressed, and a means of help to the sick.
Hoarded wealth is not merely useless, it is a curse. In this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections away from the heavenly treasure. In the great day of God its witness of unused talenmts and neglected opportunities will condemn its possessor. The Scripture says, "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat yoiur flesh like fire. You have heaped up treaure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed our fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth."
Christians should practice economy and avoid careless use of means. We should not indulge the appetite and waste money on frivolous pleasures. Then we can have more to put into the gospel work. After Christ fed the multitude with five loaves and two fishes, He said to the disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." John 6:12. The Lord was liberal to others, but strict with Himself.
7) Apart from faithful payment of tithe, should Christians also sacrifice for the gospel work and relief of the poor?
Answer: Yes. In Acts 11:28-30 a prophet "named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did." In 1 Cor 16:1 we read, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, . . .on the first day oif the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." 2 Cor 9:6,7 and 8:9 says, "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. . . For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."
The more we spend to gratify pride and appetite, the less we have to relieve the poor and to further the gospel work. Every unnecessary penny spent is that much money taken out of our hands to do good. It also deprives God of much of His glory. Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you."
8) Jesus parable means that as we make proper use of God's talents, they will increase. Am I right?
Answer: Yes. Success is not the result of chance or of destiny. The Lord deires us to use every gift we have. He does not supernaturally endow us with the qualifications we lack; but while we use that which we have, He will work with us to increase and strengthen every faculty. As we cherish and obey the promptings of the Spirit, our hearts are enlarged to receive more and more of His power, and to do better work. Dormant energies are aroused, and palsied faculties receive new life. All who respond to God's call, will receive the assistance of the Holy Spirit. To accept so great and holy a responsibility is itself elevating to the character. It calls into action the highest mental and spiritual powers, and strengthens and purifies the mind and heart. Through faith in the power of God, the weak become strong, the cowardly and lazy become courageous. He who begins with a little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what he knows, while seeking diligently for further knowledge, will find the whole heavenly treasure awaiting his demand. The more he seeks to impart light, the more light he will receive. And he will discover that his soul has been purified and elevated, and his practice of the truth will be more in earnest, and more fruitful.
The value of man is estimated in heaven according to the capacity of the heart to know God. God created man that every faculty might be the faculty of the divine mind, and He is ever seeking to bring the human mind in association with the divine. He offers us the privilege of cooperation with Christ, that we may receive increased knowledge of heavenly things. We develop a character which is the counterpart of the divine character. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, our capacity to receive heavenly knowledge will increase accordingly.
9) The man who had the one talent was rebuked and severely punished by God. Was it unfair?
Answer: No it was not unfair. It was a warning to all. People often excuse themselves for not giving themselves to God, because they say they are not gifted. But if they are offered a big task, they would accept it. Now they are to do a small task, and they give up. In making His gifts, God is testing human character. All who fail to put their talents to good use, are not faithful stewards. "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much." Luke 16:10. There are really no nonessentials in the Christian's life. He who lives a life of spiritual lethargy falls easily under Satan's temptation. He who is not loyal to God fails also to be responsible to himself. Actions repeated form habits, habits form the character, and by the character our destiny for time and eternity is decided.
Daniel and his three friends would not break God's rules in food and drink. Their faithfulness in little things gave them courage to stand up under great trials, leaving us a shining example. Great truths must be brought into little things. Practical religion is to be carried into the lowly duties of daily life. The greatest qualification for any man is to obey implicitly the word of the Lord.
A mother should not regard lightly the work of training her children for Christ. This is as verily a work for God as is that of the minister in the pulpit. If it is your work to till the soil or to engage in any other trade or occupation, make a success of the present duty. Put your mind on what you are doing. In all your work represent Christ. Do as He would do in your place. However small your talent, God has a place for it. That one talent, wisely use, will accomplish its appointed work. This is true sanctification; for sanctification consists in the cheerful performance of daily duties in perfect obedience to the will of God.
The servants who received the five and two talents would have gained nothing if they had not first received their talents. The capital was the Lord's; the improvement is His. Yet when He receives the talents, He commends them and gives them the credit for the success.
The servant who got the one talent charged God as being a hard master. But actually, that servant was without excuse. Our heavenly Father requires no more nor less than He has given us ability to do. All that He claims from us we through divine grace can render.