Talents; March 6, 2021

Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'”

The central place of the Bible in Western culture is illustrated by the current usage of the word, talent. In Biblical times it was actually a weight, as is illustrated by the many references in the Old Testament to talents of gold or silver. Because the term was used in weighing precious metals, it then became a unit of money. Scholars differ as to how much it was, but it was significant. The point of the parable is obviously that we are to make full use of what God supplies to us. A secondary point is that what He supplies is valuable! Many people have noticed that the actual quantity is not an issue in the outcome. The words of commendation to the man who doubled 5 talents are exactly the same as those to the man who doubled just two. However, the only servant who was condemned is the one who did nothing with what he was given. Many people today insist they are not “talented,” and so fail to exercise the gifts and abilities they have received. Looking at this parable, that seems to be a very dangerous course of action! It’s possible the man who received just one talent was in a snit, angry that the other men received more. The same thing happens today, with people jealous over what others have in various ways. Jealousy has never benefited anyone! The point is to stop looking at others, recognize what you yourself have, and be fully accountable for it. Jesus is clear that it’s not a matter of what you start with, but of what you do with it.

This whole parable of the talents could in a way be said to be central to my family. I come from two lines of gifted individuals in a wide variety of fields. How wide? Well, Alan Shepard, America’s first astronaut to make it into space, was a relative on my mother’s side, though I’m sure he had no idea I existed. For myself, “underachiever” was a term that was probably used of me many, many times. I was tied for the highest entrance examination scores the year I entered college, even though I had skipped my senior year in high school, but I failed Freshman Math and 1st Year German my first year. School had always been so easy for me, I didn’t know how to focus and study. I’ve had some painful lessons in that area! In the years since then there have been few signs of focused achievement. I have worked at various jobs, showing that I can make a living in a wide variety of fields, but I have been too easily distracted. I don’t know whether my longevity as a missionary is more from faithfulness or inertia! I do know that my greatest desire is to receive the accolade recorded in this verse, but I am not a good judge of myself, so I can only cast myself on the grace and mercy of my Lord. I am deeply grateful that His grace is sufficient.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for helping me realize that I literally would have had to live several lives to develop fully all the gifts You gave me. Guide me in what You want me to do each day, so that Your purposes for me may be accomplished, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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