The Parable of the Talents
Matthew 25:14-28 NIV - The Kingdom of Heaven …
14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
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!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “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!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“CONTENT, BUT NOT COMPLACENT”
The parable of the talents has typically been interpreted by the Western church as being about proper investment: Jesus’ disciples are urged to use their abilities and gifts to serve God—without reservation and without fear of taking risks. The Parable of the Talents is about how we use our work to fulfill our earthly callings. The unfaithful steward in this parable didn’t so much waste the master’s money – he wasted an opportunity. As a result, he was judged wicked and lazy. We are responsible for what we do for God with what we have been given, and one day we will be held responsible. What we hear from the Master “Well done, good and faithful servant!” is up to us.
So here we are, blessed to alive and well in the start of a new year. How many of you prior to January 1 began thinking about your plans and goals you will be working to accomplish in this next year. We think about our spiritual growth, personal growth, relationships, career, finances, and our health as these are very important areas of our lives. We think about our talents - which are are gifts and skills. The start of a new year is an opportunity to examine where we are, where we were and where we want to be by the end of this next year. The plans and goals we usually set are from our highest priorities.
One disciple in the bible understood priorities very well - The apostle Peter.
2 Peter 1: 5-8: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter shares his highest priorities of MAKING every EFFORT to ADD (all of which are ACTION words):
Add Goodness to Faith
Add Knowledge to Goodness
Add Self Control to Knowledge
Add Perseverance to Self Control
Add Godliness to Perseverance
Add Mutual Affection to Godliness
Add Love to Mutual Affection
He says in verse 8, if we possess these qualities in INCREASING MEASURE, it will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive. Peter is very bold in this letter. It’s a reminder that the Lord wants us to continually grow and increase in the talents, gifts, skills, qualities and characteristics of Jesus. We must USE these gifts.
What I love about the new year is it’s a chance to start over. A few years ago, at the start of the new year I posted on FB a picture meme that said, “New Beginnings”. For me, the new year represents a clean slate. A chance to begin again. I have more courage to challenge myself and those challenges being about a new excitement. I get re-focused, I set up new routines like setting a notification on my phone to wake up at 5am and read my bible DAILY. I know that my old habits will not produce new results I want, so I have to commit to developing new habits.
I created a new 2019 vision board with affirmations. My affirmation for 2019 is, “I am fruitful in every good work.”
Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV) - 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
But guess what, I opened up my bible app and I’ve missed 5 days from my daily reading and now I’m BEHIND. And last weekend, my car gets towed. And the week before that, I get a notification from an IRS audit that I owe a few thousand dollars. Wait a minute, doesn’t my vision board say “I am fruitful in every good work?”
And all of sudden, through these tests and challenges we we begin questioning ourselves, “Is this year going to be any different?” “Can I really achieve what I’ve set out to accomplish?” And by Feb 1st, we’re stuck and have added no goodness to our faith. We continue on with our old habits and decide that it’s okay to be exactly where we have been and we choose another year of COMPLACENCY.
“CONTENT, BUT NOT COMPLACENT”
What is the difference? The difference between contentment and complacency is very subtle. Contentment is “the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.” The Bible has a great deal to say about contentment—being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we’re going. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25).
Being content means being satisfied, grateful, fulfilled and peaceful. Nothing missing, nothing lacking. As Believers, when we hear the word content, we think about the apostle Paul who knew the secret of contentment: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
Paul’s message is an encouragement for us to realize that we already have what we need to become content. However, I believe Paul also wanted us to grasp how to be content without becoming complacent. This is the kind of self-satisfaction Paul describes when he says that he is content whatever the circumstances. Paul is constantly striving to do what God has called him to, in whatever circumstances he finds himself. There is no complacency in Paul’s contentment, and neither should there be in ours.
If we want to experience the contentment that Paul describes in Philippians, we need to use all the gifts and talents God has given us through our individual callings in order to bring the maximum return for the Kingdom. Real contentment is not being satisfied with what you have or where you are in life. It is working diligently to glorify God, serve the common good, and further the kingdom of God in everything we do.
Complacency is different from being content. Being complacent means refusing to work at improving. When we get frustrated with our current situation and refuse to work to improve that situation, that means we are being complacent. A complacent individual is never working to reach their potential and end up just going through the motions day in and day out. Only by understanding the difference and then systematically working to improve ourselves can we truly become content without being complacent.
Contentment goes hand in hand with gratitude. Being appreciative of the things in your life, to see everything and everyday as a miracle. If we get complacent, we won’t see anything as a miracle and we begin to take things for granted. So one way to start being more content and less complacent is actually to find ways to be more grateful for the things you already have in life.
There is a danger to being complacent. Complacency is Dangerous for Christians Because It Means You Are Not Growing. Being complacent can derail us from God’s plan to maximize our true potential in Him and His future plans He for us. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” No matter our age, as long as we have breath in our lungs, God still has a hope and a future for us. The key to success in God’s Kingdom is to be constantly improving and to never become complacent.