Scripture: Matthew 25:14-30
Key verse: (21) “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
Reflection: Today’s reading is the second of three parables that conclude Jesus’ final public teaching. It begins, “For it is as if…” What is the “it?” “It” is the kingdom of heaven. As we read yesterday, it’s like a group of bridesmaids who come to a wedding, half are ready for a long wait, half are not. When the groom shows, only the half that are ready are welcomed to the party and the other half are locked out. Hmm. Heaven’s like that?
Today we hear the parable of the talents. We learn of a land owner who entrusts his property to three slaves. To one he gives five talents, to another two, and to another one. A talent was a weight, but could also be expressed in wages. To put this in perspective, one talent is roughly 15 year’s wages. Given a median income in the United States of $56,516, one talent would be worth roughly $850,000. So, to one of his servants, this master gives over $4.2 million, to another $1.7 million, and to the third $850,000. That’s almost $7 million entrusted to three servants by this master. As Jesus tells us in the parable, two of the servants put their “talents” to work and double the master’s money, returning $8.4 million and $3.4 million respectively. But the third servant hides the money — a practice suggested by the law. He does this because he believes the master to be a harsh man who took things that weren’t his own. As a result, he loses everything entrusted to him and is cast out into the “outer darkness.”
Heaven is like that? How exactly is heaven like this? I wonder if this parable isn’t saying something about our expectations and understandings of God. This master is apparently incredibly trusting, giving almost $7 million to three servants. Does that sound harsh? Does that sound like a dishonest person? In response, the first two servants put their master’s money to work, taking risks, boldly stepping out, and expanding the master’s wealth. In response, they are entrusted with even more. But the third servant seems to have a terrible understanding of the master, believing him to be harsh and dishonest. In fear of the master, he hides the talent. In the end, he gets what he expects — harsh treatment that locks him out of the business.
Heaven is like that, according to Jesus. What do we do with all God entrusts to our care? Do we live boldly, putting our God-given gifts to work for the greater good, taking risks to expand God’s beloved community? Or do we live in fear of a harsh God, hoarding what we have, hiding it in order to keep it safe? Ultimately, we get what we expect. Living in response to God’s grace that has entrusted us with so much, living boldly for God, putting God’s gifts to work in our world, we experience the kingdom of God in powerful ways. The more we experience it, the more we are entrusted with, and we “enter into the joy of our master.” But if we live in fear, believing God is harsh and capricious, then we get what we expect, and we are locked out of the beloved community.
How will we live today in response to the master who has entrusted us with so much? At the end of the day, may we hear God’s words, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant.”
Prayer: Thank you, O God, for all you have entrusted to me. Thank you for the gift of life, for the gift of another day. Thank you for the breath I just took and the one that by your grace I am about to receive. Thank you for the people in my life with whom I share love. Thank you for my mind and my body and my spirit and opportunities to put them to work in serving you. Thank you for my faith that moves me to start today with this devotional. Help me live in response to your amazing grace, O Lord. Fill me with your Spirit that I might live boldly and put all you have entrusted to me to work for you and your vision for the world that is the kingdom of God. In the name of the One who has shown us what a faithful life looks like, Jesus Christ, we offer our prayer. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].