The parable of the talents is about kingdom living. Stewardship of the most critical kingdom of heaven assets.
As you will see in this post, a talent is a LARGE sum of money, and five? A heck of a lot of money!
And like your life, would have required an abundance of stewardship to manage, instead of bury.
The parable of talents proves that you will not fail at anything on your plate to accomplish, with God.
Let’s dive in.
What is a talent?
Money in Jesus day was metals, and given that, it weighed a lot.
One talent was no small sum,
A talent is equivalent to around $60,000 in our time
Consider the burden, weight and responsibility of being handed 60k in monies that are all metal coins! There is no wonder the more simple response was to bury it for safety.
But it may have even been more complex when you consider one talents buying power.
30 pieces of silver, modern day monies of around $197.40 was used to purchase an entire field after Judas threw it back at the priests.
How large was this field? How many acres?
“Fields” were typically 2,500 square meters in the ancient world, a little over half an acre.
One talent would have been enough cash to purchase 187 acres of land outside of Jerusalem.
Leveling up in the management of people, tools, time, and more would have been the weighty burden that was handed to these stewards overnight.
It was COMPLICATED. Sound like your life?
Parable of the Talents Meaning
The ‘Parable of the Talents” in Matthew 25:14–30 is about money, talents, being entrusted to three servants before a master heads out to travel. Either one, three, or five talents were given “According to his ability.”
Whether the servants used, or buried their talent, determined their worthiness.
If you have not read this short parable yet, you can do so by clicking here.
Here are five life and money lessons revealed in the meaning of the parable of the talents you may experience every week.
The Omission of a Plan
An often overlooked element in many parables is the depth of Jesus’s teaching without the lack of specifics.
In the parable of the talents there was ZERO direction given, no specific instructions on how to use the money, or not use the money.
Been waiting to hear from God like Isiah?
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’” Isaiah 6:8.
I did, all my life, I can not count the times I have gone down to the altar at church begging God to tell me what to do!
Satan has embedded in our ideas this, if you take the wrong job, make a wrong choice in where you should live, you will be outside of God’s will.
But did the master ask the servants, what did they do? How did you double my investment?
This in God’s will or out of God’s will is an idea planted by the demons on purpose to make you ineffective.
“God does not have an ideal, detailed life-plan uniquely designed for each believer that must be discovered in order to make correct decisions. The concept of an “individual will of God” [in that sense] cannot be established by reason, experience, biblical example or biblical teaching.” Garry Friesen
The one talent recipient may shed more light to this dilemma.
The One Talent Recipient
If the master told the one talent non-steward exactly what to do, do you think he would have done it?
Very likely, but that would make a slave or robot instead of a free personality.
The omission of a specific plan in the parable of the talents, especially when combined with looking at Esther’s actions, reveals:
- There is not an “ideal, detailed life-plan” you must discover and adhere to in order to be in God’s will.
Only God is courageous enough to yield this complete freedom of choice to man.
Overcome the fear of making the wrong decision and do anything but sit and wait for a sign. That is burying your talents.
Discipline is Necessary
This is mind-boggling, The ones that showed up, stuck to it, doubled the sums they had been given then, handed the original amount and all profits earned completely over to the master.
“Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more”
- There was no profit-sharing.
- There was no use of any of the money for personal gain.
Real Stewardship Revealed
Five talents received, five talents earned, and like Joseph and Mary, none of it was used to feed himself, his family, have a place to sleep, and likely saved for his family’s future estate.
You have given me life to manage, I have no attachment to the world’s wealth, here is all of it.
The ultimate picture of a steward.
Now get this:
How much discipline and money stewarding abilities would have to be in place to be endowed with five talents?
It would not have been a simple responsibility to be handed $300,000 in metal coins, 5 talents, and turn it into $600k, enough money to purchase 370,658 acres.
Clearly, the two who succeeded had to embody enormous amounts of discipline and control of their money and time.
Two of the most difficult Kingdom assets to steward and even more challenging to give over to God.
How many talents do you already possess?
William Law mentions the two, time and money, over and over in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, and says this about talents,
“All that we have, all that we are, all that we enjoy, are only so many talents from God; if we use them to the ends of a pious and holy life, our five talents will become ten, and our labours will carry us into the joy of our Lord;
But if we abuse them to the gratification of our own passions, sacrificing the gifts of God to our own pride and vanity, we shall live here in vain and foolish anxieties, shunning religion as a melancholy thing, accusing our Lord as a hard master, and then fall into everlasting misery.”
How much time are you handed each year?
And with a talent being 60kish in modern monies… How many talents will you receive in the next 5-years?
Embody self-discipline and be “faithful over a little”, words which likely blew the mind of the hearers of Jesus.
Faithful Over a Little
Is this just prosperity and abundance or something 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.’”
When you consider these amounts, one talent being enough money to purchase 187 acres, and modern day average costs of an acre in the U.S. $3,160 – $4,100:
One talent may have had as much purchasing power of $654,500 today.
So Jesus says,
- to the potential purchasing power of 3-talents steward, 1.9 million, turned into 3.8 million
- and the five talents, 3.2 million turned into 6.4 million
- a little?
Which brings up a current problem.
Should you strive to earn the most money?
Dallas Willard faces this tough question in The Spirit of the Disciplines. (Bullets and emphasis added for clarity.)
“From within this Kingdom perspective on human worth and well-being emerges a solution to the major social problems of wealth and poverty. That solution consists in a new type of human being, people who have assimilated the character of Christ into all areas of life in society.
- These people clearly see that giving is only a part and by no means the largest part of stewardship before our Lord.
- These people understand it is part of the responsibility to control the world’s possessions in a way that ministers to all.
The poor are much more to be benefited by the godly controlling the goods of this world than by their performing a pious hand-washing that only abandons those goods to the servants of ‘mammon’”
This “responsibility to control the world’s possessions” makes even more sense when looking at the law Jesus delivers in this parable.
A Universal Law
Just like in many of Jesus’s teaching, In the parable of the talents, we are given a universal law,
“to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.”
And stated in another way, ”But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25:27
Thinking in context of time and money:
If you own, steward, direct, and control your time, do you then have more “abilities”?
When you own, steward, direct, and control your money, are you then able to handle more?
Either you are drifting in these two areas, money and time, and other “servants of mammon” are taking these talents from you, or you are stewarding your Kingdom assets and increasing your abilities.
It is a law, a fact of the way things are.
According to His Ability
In Matthew 25:14 we read, “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.”
Some say, according to his ability is because God created a balance of diversity or the one talent servant was not capable of producing five talent results, but this is incorrect.
Being “incapable of producing five talents” would mean, God formed genes that limited that as an option.
There are genuine mental and physical limitations of some, but –
- a normal mid-twenty year old compared to another normal in their mid-twenties,
- mid-thirty year old compared to another in their mid thirties,
- fifties, sixties, etc. do have different abilities.
Because some have busted their butt, mastering stewardship of their mind, body, and wallet while others have not.
Like you, these servants are adults with a background of a life, which has determined your current level of ability.
Questions like these reveal what would happen if God suddenly dropped 60k in your lap, which is only one pulse check of “your ability.”
How fast is your tax return gone, or stimulus check from the Coronavirus?
Regardless of prior decisions, whether good or bad (there’s grace for that!) the meaning revealed in the parable of the talents is to not bury your head in the sand.
Here’s how to keep showing up and receive a “well done good and faithful servant”.
Success or Failure are the Only Outcomes
What I now see as one of the large takeaways from the parable of the talents is, you can only be worthy or unworthy because
- There is no try – Success or Failure are the only outcomes.
Because of a misunderstanding of failure I often wished there was a fourth example in this parable.
Example #4 I wished was there
Master returns and talent reporter number four comes with his head buried to give his report.
How did you do with my talents young lad?
Well, as he shuffles his feet in the dirt, I started and tried my hardest to try to return profit on the investment you bestowed to me, quickly jumping at the opportunity to receive a good and well done.
Over time it showed that my best guessses, continual striving, and attempts were all failing but I did not quit. I was determined to have fruit to present when you returned.
I pivoted in my strategy, sought wisdom and guidance, but the end result was the same. Lots of effort and persistence, no bounty.
I am sorry to report, but all of my efforts were in vain. All has been spent and is now lost. Then breaks into a sob.
After a few minutes of crying the broken servant looks up and sees a face that is pleased then becomes brave enough to make eye contact.
The master simply smiles a forgiving smile and says ‘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.’
The servants shame and guilt fall from his body replaced by joy and lightness and not understanding what has happened or why, knowing the masters heart he then believes the words are true and enters into celebration and larger stewardship with the other success stories and the master.
Will this be your Story?
I think I wanted this fourth talent parable to be there because it seemed at times, this was going to be my story.
Even after trying and missing, pivoting and still missing, re-launching again… The fruits were not able to be seen but darn it I was giving it my all!
You have been given a kingdom, a co-reigning with Christ with your time and money which is your place of reigning here on earth.
Raising your kids, scaling a side hustle, teaching, are some of the legacies you will leave.
In addition to being able to expand beyond the four walls of your kingdom, you have necessary maintenance…
- Health, laundry, food planning, cleanliness, overcoming addictions, turning off follies of pride, achievement, glamour and more.
These are your weights and responsibilities in your hands right now. Talents to steward instead of bury and shy away from this week!
The only difference, the only possibility of missing the mark or receiving at the end a
‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.’
‘You wicked and slothful servant!’
Is burying your life in the dirt and not embodying perseverance with humility and reliable discipline.
To Infinity and…
“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do… I want you to get out there and walk – better yet, run! – on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.
And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” Ephesians 4.
Many say, but I don’t know the road God called me to travel? I don’t know what I am supposed to do?
Neither did Abraham, Esther, or your great great grandpa,
Your parable of the talents meaning is what is on your plate for yourself and God, immediate family, and life mission as clearly as you can see right now. As well as the handling of your finances and financial expansion.
Steward them this week, analyze and adapt to steward them a bit better next week.
One week at a time, 6-days at a time. How the world is being created, on earth as it is in heaven.