Jesus gives us the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30. In this parable, the master represents God, and the servants represent you and me. As the master prepared for a journey, he entrusted different amounts of wealth to his three servants. To one servant, he entrusted five talents, to another, two talents, and to another, one talent. This is consistent with real life. Nowhere in the Bible does God promise to provide everyone with equal amounts of wealth or spiritual talents.
When the master returned from his travels, he found that the servants with five and two talents had each invested and doubled their money. The servant with one talent had buried his and made no effort to invest his master’s money.
It’s interesting to note that the praise God gave the servant who had five talents and earned five more was identical to the praise he gave to the servant who had two talents and earned two more. He said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21, 23). But the servant entrusted with one talent was called lazy, wicked, and unfaithful to God. In short, he was not a good steward.
What was God’s response to the unfaithful servant who was entrusted with one talent? “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (Matthew 25:28–29)
It’s important to understand what God is saying here. The words “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance” indicate that to those who have been faithful stewards, God will entrust with more. On the other hand, those who have been unfaithful in their stewardship to God will lose even what they had been given previously. The servants who received five and two talents demonstrated faithfulness to God, and thus God entrusted them with more. However, the third servant was not faithful, and therefore even that one talent was taken away from him.
It is also important to understand that Christ was using the truth illustrated in this parable to proclaim the grander message of the kingdom of heaven. As citizens of the kingdom of heaven we do well to order our lives in accordance with the King of kings. This understanding should help us to be wise stewards of the resources, relationships, and spiritual gifts given to us by our Heavenly Father.
- What defines a faithful steward? I believe that the kind of stewardship God is looking for could be summarized as follows:
- We accept and rejoice in the truth that God owns everything.
- We act accordingly. That is, we learn and implement God’s principles in managing the money and resources entrusted to us.
- We use these resources in accordance with God’s will and for His glory and not according to our own will.
—Steve Yoder, CAM Foundation staff member