14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I know someone who actually won the fancy car at a casino. You may have seen these promotions. They put a very expensive car out on the floor behind a bank of slot machines. You put your coin in and pull the handle. If you get the right combination, you win the car. I know someone gave it a try and who won. She was an elderly woman with a compromised hip who could not even get in or get out of such a low-slung sports car, so she sold it back and took the cash. She even made a sizeable donation to church.
What would you do with a treasure entrusted to you? I like to think that I would make some dramatic gift or fund some good thing. So far God has not brought me to that moment of trial. Not being the sort of person inclined to feed slot machines or state lottery funds, it is not likely anyway. But in fact, I have come into a great treasure.
The talents in the parable Jesus tells us today are not talents as we use the word, e.g., the ability to play the piano or public speaking. In the ancient world a talent was a unit of money, a very large unit of money. It was in fact the amount of gold or silver that a slave could carry for a day, about 35 pounds. The only entities which dealt in talents of money were governments and the ultra-wealthy. Each of these servants received a vast treasure. This is not, however, a parable about money alone. What is the treasure we have received from God? Is it not the forgiveness of our sins? What could be a greater treasure than that? Does that make the five-talent fellow a multi-talented sinner? Is the man who only got one talent the pious church-going type whose well-lived life needs less forgiveness? Are we that man?
Two servants invest their talent. How does one invest forgiveness? Is it not by forgiving another sinner? Does the five-talent fellow simply realize that he has been forgiven of much, so he forgives on a grand scale? But what about that wretch with only one talent? He buries his treasure in he back yard. Is he the person who has been forgiven but who refuses to forgive? I think so. This is the danger of being a person who tries to keep the commandments, is faithful to spouse, puts an offering in the plate every Sunday, etc. We can start to imagine that our well-lived life is the goal of Christ’s kingdom. It is not. It is a good thing and God delights in your happiness and health, but the goal of the kingdom is the forgiveness of sinners. That is why Christ has invested so much in you. Yes, despite your relatively well-lived life, you too need a great deal of forgiveness. Even when you pray and sing hymns in church you need it. And he gives it freely. But that freely given gift, which never runs out, is purposeful. Through you, He would give it to others. We dare not keep it for ourselves or bury it in fear in the privacy of our religious life. Do you have someone in your life to forgive, someone who has done you wrong? Most of us do. Forgive that person today. Say it to him or her. Announce that Jesus has died for what that person has done. Be an investor in the kingdom of God.