Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Use It or Lose It (Matthew 25:14-30)

This week at our Run for God meeting, we were discussing Matthew 25:14-30.  If your translation has subtitles, it probably says something like "the parable of the talents" or "... of the loaned money."  On Sunday, we, somewhat uncomfortably, discussed this parable.  If it were just some random story (not that I believe the Bible is random), it would have been easier than trying to mesh the seemingly unfair master with the first phrase of the passage:  "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man ..."  The man just seems so unfair ... and to know that this man is God was bothersome to some.  I don't know about the rest of the group, but my mind just hasn't been able to let go of it.  Yesterday, the ideas started to form.  Then today the Holy Spirit brought it together for me, and I couldn't wait to share it with you!

What criteria does the passage say that the man used to appropriate talents (i.e. money) to his servants?  The man gave "to each in proportion to his own personal ability" (Matt 25:15, Amp), and he expected each one to put it to use.  What did the third servant do with his one talent (vs. 18)?  [I'm not answering this one out-right.  You're going to have to answer it for yourself.  :)]

Talents (i.e. money) represent the currency of our world.  But if this parable is about the kingdom (which vs. 14 confirms), then what is the kingdom's currency?  Is it not faith?!  How does Romans 12:3 fit with the Matthew 25 parable?

God gives us faith to use, not to hide!  We want to give the third servant the benefit of the doubt (which is probably why I'm referring to him as "the third servant" instead of "wicked and lazy" as the Bible does).  We'll say, 'He was just protecting his master's money.'  I submit to you that the wicked and lazy servant hid his apportioned talent, not because he wanted to protect the money but, because he wanted to protect himself.  What does Jesus have to say about self-preservation in Luke 9:23-26 (also told in other Gospels), and how do these words shine more light on the parable of the talents?

(I'm moving to a different thought, so you will want to answer this last question before moving on.)

Return on investment (ROI) was also mentioned on Sunday.  Did the man really expect a 100% return on his investment?  We're not told that he expected this specific ROI, but we are shown that those who invested all they had doubled their investments.  Sticking with the Gospel of Luke (although this verse is also paralleled in other Gospels), let's go to Luke 6:38.  What does this verse say about ROI in the kingdom economy?

Now what?  The man was not pleased with the wicked and lazy servant because the servant was not using what he had been given to use.  What about you?  Are you using the measure of faith God has given you?  Do not hide your faith under the guise of protecting it.  Faith is given to be used; do not be afraid.  "With the measure you deal out, it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:38).