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Mt. 25:14-30 - Parable of the Talents
By Brother Mike 

 

When the Lord returns how would you like to hear, "you wicked and lazy servant; to outer darkness you go where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth." What a terrible thought, isn't it? It is certainly not something any of us would like to hear. But the scriptures are clear that there will be those who think they are followers of Jesus Christ, but who upon the Lord's return will hear, "you wicked and lazy servant, cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Could this wicked and lazy servant be one of us? Could it be that we have been deceived and simply just think that we are followers of Jesus Christ when the truth is we are not? Only God truly knows, but in the parable of the talents, it is revealed what God expects to see in the life of one of His saved people. By studying this parable, we can examine ourselves to see if we match up, and by doing so, we can be motivated and encouraged to do those things in our lives that are pleasing to the Lord instead of that which is displeasing and leads to our condemnation. 

Let's begin by reading the parable in Matthew 24, 

14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents .
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, 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.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, 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.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 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.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

The first point of this parable that I want to bring out is that the man travelling into a far country distributes His goods or possessions to His servants in order that they might trade these goods to obtain a return on His investment while he is away travelling. The parable of the pounds in Luke 19:12-13, which is really the parallel account to the parable of the talents that we just read in Mathew 25, puts it like this: 

12 A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13
And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 

From this account of the parable of the pounds compared with the parable of the talents, we discover that the man who travels to a far country is actually not just any man, but he is a nobleman who is going to travel to a far country in order to receive a kingdom. In other words, this man is a king. This immediately helps us to know that this man in the parable is actually picturing the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the king who after being crucified went back to heaven to receive a kingdom, and who will return again after a long time at the end of the world. We read of this, for instance, in Hebrews, 

Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high . . . 

And again, 

Heb 10:12 But this man [that is, Jesus] , after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God [that is, He received a kingdom]. 

Notice that this king distributes His goods to His servants in order that they might trade them and obtain a return. But what are these goods? We might think at first that these goods are one and the same as money, but upon deeper contemplation, this is not possible because these goods are the goods of the king who is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He rules a kingdom that is completely spiritual; therefore, His goods could not possibly be money because money is not spiritual. What we must conclude, then, is that these goods are spiritual goods of the kingdom of heaven. And what are the goods of the kingdom of heaven? They are the things like what we read of in Galatians 5, 

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith
23
meekness, temperance . . . 

Some of the other spiritual things of the kingdom of God are declared in Ephesians 4, 

7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
. . .
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 

And even more of the goods of the kingdom of heaven are declared in Romans 12,  

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7
Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.  

The point being is that what the Lord Jesus gives to His people are spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are the things that the Lord distributes to His people; indeed, these are the goods of the kingdom of heaven. 


Now not only does the Lord distribute spiritual gifts to His people, but He expects them to use these spiritual gifts
. We see this in that the two good and faithful servants immediately went out and gained a return on their spiritual goods, and, as a result, the Lord commends them in saying, 

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

On the other hand, the servant who had received the one talent of spiritual goods went out and hid his spiritual gift in the earth, and this resulted in the Lord's condemnation as expressed in the words, 

Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury . . . cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

So without question, we learn that the Lord expects us to use the spiritual gifts that He has given us and not to hide them. Remember what the Lord said, 

Lu 11:33 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. 

And again, 

Mt 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 

Are you letting your light shine? Do you have the gift of helps; are you helping others? Do you have the gift of kindness; are you being kind? Do you have the gift of teaching; are you teaching? Do you have the gift of exhortation, or of showing mercy, or of gentleness, or of temperance; or of giving; are you making these things known? Perhaps you have the gift of evangelism; are you working to bring others closer to the truth? Whatever is or are the spiritual gifts which the Lord has given you, they should be being used to His glory. This is what we see in the parable of the talents: the good and faithful servants of God used their gifts and talents, but the wicked and lazy servant did not. Yes, I sure hope that you are one of God's servants who are using his or her talents, gifts and abilities for the kingdom of God, for if you are, this could be a great encouragement that you are a child of God. Although you cannot become a child of God because of what you do, if you are a child of God, you will be seeking to use the gifts and abilities that Lord has given you for His glory. 


Now the next point I would like to make is that the Lord not only expects His servants to use the spiritual gifts bestowed upon them, but, in so doing, he expects to see a return on the spiritual goods He has given as well
. We see this in that the servant who was given the 5 talents produced 5 more, and the servant given 2 talents produced two more, and it was because of this that the Lord said to them both,  

Well done, 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. 

But with respect to the servant who was given the 1 talent, he did not produce a return because he went and hid his talent in the earth. As we read in the parable, 

24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25
And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27
Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 

The reason this servant went and hid his talent is because of what the Lord tells us, namely that he was a wicked and slothful servant - he simply was not saved. This wicked servant did not go and hide his talent because of what he was saying, namely that he was afraid because he knew that the Lord was a hard (difficult, demanding and a severe) man. No, these were simply excuses. The truth is that if this servant really feared the Lord because the Lord was a demanding, exacting and hard person, he would have made sure that he produced a return on his talent. The Lord puts it like this: 

26 Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 

In other words, the Lord is saying to this wicked servant, if you really thought that I was a hard and demanding person, and that you feared me as you say, then you would have made sure that you used and did not hide the spiritual goods that I have given you. But this is not the case; instead, you wickedly went and hid your Lord's spiritual goods in the ground where they could not be seen and used. 

This wicked and slothful servant is a picture of all those who claim to be servants of Jesus Christ, and they have even tasted of the heavenly and spiritual blessings that go along with being associated with the kingdom of heaven (Heb. 6:5) - they have been given 1 talent - but they have never actually become saved. So although they appear to be associated with the Lord as one of His servants, they do not shine forth and use the small amount of spiritual blessings which they have been blessed with because they are not actually saved, and so do not actually possess the Spirit and power of God. They are those who are actually deep down ashamed of the Lord Jesus, and who fear man more than they do God, so they hide the things of God. It is as if they have dug a hole and hidden them in the earth, which is a picture of them hiding them within themselves. 

But what does the Lord say in opposition to fearing man? He says in Matthew 10, 

28 . . . fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 

So with respect to the spiritual goods of the kingdom of heaven, we are never to fear man; nor are we ever to be ashamed of our Lord and everything He stands for. This wicked servant was afraid and ashamed as typified by his hiding of the Lord's talent, but we should never be. 

Now, as we read on, because this wicked and slothful servant did not use his talent to gain a return for the Lord, but instead went and hid his talent in the earth, the Lord says this: 

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29
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.
30
And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

What this is revealing is that, in the judgment, those who are associated with Christ in some way, but who are not actually saved will eventually lose any of the spiritual blessings that they may have gained by such association, but those who are saved will gain even more spiritual blessings, " For unto every one that hath [these are the saved individuals] shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not [these are those who have never actually been saved, but think they are following Jesus Christ] shall be taken away even that which he hath." This is a very sobering statement, and is saying this: there are many who claim to follow the Lord, but because they are actually not saved, they will lose any of the things of the kingdom of heaven that they may have had once the reckoning in judgment begins. Since judgment or the reckoning actually began with all the churches on May 21, 1988, we have seen this happening before our very eyes. The things of the kingdom of heaven have been taken from all the churches as they have drifted off into more and more falsehood, while the true believers who have obediently left the churches long ago have been given more and more things of the kingdom so that they are being guided more and more into the truth, " 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." 


Now before finishing up on the parable of the talents, I would like to bring to the forefront one other interesting point as found in the following verses of the parable: 

23 His lord said unto him, Well done, 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. 

And in the parallel account of Luke 19, we read this: 

17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18
And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19
And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities

What these verses seem to say is that, first of all, God's people will be given responsibilities of ruler ship in heaven, and, second of all, that each of God's people in heaven will be given a degree of responsibility in ruler ship that is directly proportional to the amount and degree of spiritual goods she or he has been given and was faithful with in this life. So there appears to be some continuity between this life and the next in so far as how much authority or ruler ships that one is given. It can all be generally summarized like this: those who have been responsible in service for the Lord here on earth will be given more responsibility of service in the next life. This is a law of the kingdom: before one can be put in charge or responsible for much, one must first prove faithful in a little.


Okay, so what is the greatest thing from this parable that God's people should take to heart? It is this: if you are a child of God, you should be using and seeking to more and more use the spiritual gifts that the Lord has given you. This is clearly one of the main things that distinguished the good and faithful servants from the wicked: the good servants were busy using and shining forth the things of the kingdom of heaven, while the wicked were not. This is not to say that the good and faithful servants were saved because they used and shined forth their spiritual gifts, but rather that they were saved, and this is why they shined forth and used their spiritual gifts. Think about it! Can you pinpoint anything in your life that has been and is shining forth the kingdom of heaven? What gifts and talents do you have that have been being used for the glory of the Lord? If you can honestly say that you have and are now using the spiritual gifts and blessings that the Lord has given you, then, perhaps, you can be encouraged that you will hear these most blessed words upon the Lord's return:

Well done, 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.

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