(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
It is called “The Parable of the Talents”. Jesus taught this parable in Matthew 25:14 through 30 to illustrate what “…the kingdom of heaven is like…” (Matthew 25:14). He told it during the last week of His earthly ministry before the crucifixion. It involves four main characters and some extras in the background.
The first main character is the master of the estate, called “…a man traveling into a far country, who called his servants and delivered his goods to them.” (Matthew 25:14). Apparently the master was quite wealthy because he distributed sixteen talents between three servants.
A talent in Jesus day weighed about 75 pounds of either silver or gold. A silver talent was worth about 6,000 denarii, and a denarius was considered a day’s wage for a laborer. So a talent would represent 20 years of a day-laborer’s pay! So the master had monetary wealth worth 320 years laborer’s pay – plus the money he needed for keeping his home estate running efficiently, as well as money for traveling into a far country!
We meet the next three main characters in quick succession in verse 15 – all servants of the master!
- “…to the [first] one he gave five talents…,” about 375 pounds of silver!
- “…to the…[second he gave] two…talents…,” about 150 pounds of silver!
- “…to the…[third servant he gave] one…talent…,” about 75 pounds of silver!
The master knew his servants well, and had assessed their ability to handle the amount of money he had allotted them. They were to invest it toward a good return for the master’s benefit!
Jesus had told a similar parable in Luke 19:12 through 28. There, in verse 13 (International Standard Version), the master told the servants to whom he entrusted his money, “Invest this money until I come back.” It is assumed the same command was given in our parable under consideration.
The servants got busy:
- Matthew 25:16: “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.” He doubled his master’s money!
- Matthew 25:17: “And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.” He also doubled his money!
- Matthew 25:18: “But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.” No gain on his investment at all!
It was a lengthy journey (see Matthew 25:19) because a good return on an investment doesn’t happen overnight! So the master finally arrived home, and called to account these three servants:
- Matthew 25:20 and 21:
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 over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
- Matthew 25:22 and 23:
He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you delivered to 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 faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
- Matthew 25:24-30:
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 scatter- ed 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 scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my com- ing 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.”
In the Bible, talents, meaning money, can be invested and increased in value. But ‘a talent’ today means “…any natural ability or power.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). A Christian definition might be, “…any God-given ability or power.” I find it interesting that talents and powers can also be invested (regularly used, and so increased) for the glory of our Master and Lord!
As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:4 concerning spiritual gifts, that “…the manifes-tation of the Spirit [spiritual gifts] is given to each one for the profit of all.” The same could be said for the different talents He bestows on us! But if we are to invest and increase our talents for the glory of God, they must be put to regular use to advance His kingdom!
Now, let’s engage in a little creative interpretation of The parable of the sower, from Matthew 13:3 through 8, and its interpretation in verses 18 through 23: Only the seeds sown “…on good ground yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (verse 8). So the ‘good ground‘ seeds all had a pretty good return on what was sown! However, good seed was sown on three other types of ground also:
- “…the wayside [a path] and the birds came and devoured them.” (verse 4)
- “…stony places, where they did not have much [depth of] earth…” (verse 5).
- “And some fell among [the seeds of] thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.” (verse 7).
…but none of these three brought forth any crops!
The only seeds that brought forth crops were what was, you might say, sown on good ground and invested to bring forth plenty – a hundred-fold, sixtyfold, or at least thirtyfold!
Now, back to the title of this Gem: “A Good Man In Hell!” What happened to the servant who didn’t invest his talent, but only went and hid it? Wasn’t he a descent man who at least returned the full amount entrusted to him? But what did the master say about him in Matthew 25:28 through 30:
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.
“…outer darkness…weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That is a description of Hell!
So invest (use) the talents and abilities God has given you!
Don’t end up being a good man, a good woman in hell!