As I get older, I’ve noticed that most people who are familiar with the Bible have at least one story they have problems with. Generally, it’s because they sympathize with the character in the story who is being reprimanded or disciplined.
For me, the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25 has always been one that didn’t sit well. As the story goes, the master gives talents to three different servants. To the first he gives 5, the second 2, and the third 1. The servants were suppose to take these talents, go out and make more talents.
A lot of people struggle with the idea that one servant gets 5 talents while the other gets 1, but that’s not my issue. I can deal with the idea that life isn’t fair and we’re all dealt different hands. However, what I’ve never been able to get past is the reaction of the master to the 1 talent man.
The 5 talent man and the 2 talent man both went out and doubled their talents, meaning they earned 5 more talents and 2 more talents, respectively, for their master. But when the master asked the 1 talent man what he did with his, he responded with: “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.”
I was afraid. I hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.
I see myself written all over this character. I am not a gambler, a risk taker, or a faith jumper. I do not thrive on spontaneity. And I hate the unknown. I’ve written, extensively, about that here.
So when the servant, in all his vulnerability, tells the master he hid the talent in the ground because he was scared, essentially, of losing the talent, my heart sympathizes with him. I think, “Hey, man, that’s exactly what I would do. Look at us liking the security of the certain.”
But the master doesn’t respond with sympathy, not even with light reprimand. Oh no. The master calls him a “wicked and lazy servant!” and instructs them to “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Woah. I understand rewarding the 5 talent man for producing 5 more talents. I unerstand equally rewarding the 2 talent man for producing 2 more talents. I would even understand the lack of reward for the 1 talent man, because, we can all agree, he didn’t do anything to be rewarded for.
But what gets me is the punishment the servant receives for not growing his 1 talent. I would understand the punishment if the servant lost the talent or wasted it on riotous living, but all he did was bury it safely in the ground.
He settled for safe, because he was scared.
I feel like my whole life relates to this servant.
My family and friends often joke about, and get annoyed by, my inability to make decisions. But like the 1 talent man, burying my head and letting others make decisions is much more appealing.
I’m the girl who was sick for 3 days after picking out a couch for my apartment because, “What if we get it inside and it doesn’t look good?” or “What if I decide it’s not as comfortable as I thought it was?” or “What if I get tired of looking at it and want something else?” or “What if it’s not worth what we paid for it?” or or or….
Literally. Sick. For Three. Days. OVER A COUCH!!
Is it ridiculous? Absolutely. And it’s equally annoying that I go through that much anxiety trying to make a decision about anything over the fear that it won’t work out.
So I related to this 1 talent man. And every time I read this story I think, “that poor guy.” Because I see myself being that guy. And I don’t want to be punished for my lack of action due to paralyzing fear. I want to be excused.
But God doesn’t make excuses for our lack of action no matter what our reasoning is. And sometimes, that’s a really hard pill to swallow.
Instead, He CALLS us to action…
“Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” -James 1:22
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
So, it’s time for us (me) to stop taking after the 1 talent man, and instead use our talents to produce more for our Father.
It’s time to take risks, get out of our comfort zones, push ourselves to achieve more, and rest in the knowledge that His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11).
For the days when you don’t feel smart enough, brave enough, good enough, or strong enough, maybe this song will help.
Go out and be great, friends. The armies of the Lord are behind you.