Reflections on the Talents

Reflections on Talents

Our preacher today, John Bedigan, from North Shields, sent me home buzzing with thoughts about the parable of the Talents (Matthew 25). A parable of judgement. And a parable of the Kingdom. John said he was going use the parable to show that we have: 1. Capabilities from God; 2. Responsibilities from God; 3. Choices

John reminded us what the Kingdom of Heaven is – it’s the “place” where God’s will is done – not a geographical place, of course.

You’ll know the parable – a rich man goes on a long trip away, and before he goes he gives three of his servants different amounts of money to use. When he comes home, he asks for an accounting. The two who had most have doubled their money and are praised and given more responsibility. The one who had least has buried his money and gives it back to his master, intact, but not grown. The master is furious, takes away from the servant what he has, and throws the servant out to ‘weep and grind his teeth’.

This story should play well with many people today, who talk a lot about ‘economic growth’. For there’s plenty of growth in the story and it’s seen as a ‘good thing’.

Growth in what, though? John used a phrase that got me thinking – “growth in the riches of the Kingdom”. On the face of it that means money – that’s what the master gave his servants to use, invest, grow. But this is a parable and money’s a symbol. This is God’s Kingdom, God’s realm we’re talking about. The wealth of this Kingdom is in much more than money. What’s God interested in? Looking at Jesus’s life and ministry, the things he said and did, the things that were important to him, I think that health and wholeness, inclusion, everyone having a part, no-one being pushed out, generosity, everyone having enough, justice – these are the things Jesus tells and shows are God’s priorities – these are the “wealth of the Kingdom”. The first two servants have acted on their responsibilities and used what they were given (capabilities) to grow the overall wealth of the Kingdom. And what was their reward? A huge bonus? No! More responsibility!

The third servant made the wrong choice. Because he mistook his master. When the master challenged him, the servant said “I know you’re a hard man, reaping where you haven’t sown – I was afraid.” There are two mistakes here. The servant was afraid to take a risk – afraid of what would happen if he messed up. He didn’t realise that his master puts risk above safety – taking a risk that goes wrong is OK, playing safe is not. His other mistake is about whose the wealth is. The servant assumes it’s the master’s. It isn’t. It’s the Kingdom’s. So it’s the Kingdom (and all who belong to it) who suffer when the Kingdom’s wealth is squandered or not used to its maximum potential.

Thank you, John Bedigan, for all this food for thought.

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Page last updated: 16th Nov 2014 5:26 PM