The Parable of Talents

I’ve been thinking of the parable of the talents lately.

You know, the one where Jesus talks about the three servants whose master was going away. He gave one servant ten talents to keep while he was gone. One servant five, and one servant, two.

When the master came back the servants with ten and five talents had doubled their money through careful management, but the last servant, because of fear, had hidden his talents. All he had were the talents he’d been given originally.

I could always kind of relate to that last guy. You all might not believe this, but I am super cautious and I’m very afraid of letting people down. That last servant could easily be me.

Also, sometimes I think that the distribution really wasn’t fair, was it? After all, someone with ten talents would have better investment opportunities than someone with only two, right? Just like someone with a million dollars would have more choices to do things that would turn a profit than someone with ten bucks.

Anyway, in that parable, the talents are money.

But, lately I’ve been thinking that what they represent could be much broader.

Couldn’t they represent our circumstances? Our families, our intelligence, the countries and cities we were born into? After all, if everything we have comes from the Lord, then we are exactly where God placed us, with the families and homes and circumstances that He has allowed.

Those could represent our “talents” that God has given us, right?

How have we used our circumstances, our intelligence, our families and situations for the Lord? I’m talking about eternal improvements. The kind that matter to God.

Are we just going through our days, kind of mindlessly trying to keep our heads above water? Trying to make sure the house stays clean and the kids stay fed and the grass mowed and we get to our doctors’ appointments on time and try to stay healthy and happy?

I kind of feel like those are all worldly goals. Not necessarily bad goals, just not using our “talents” for the Lord. We’re using them for ourselves.

Someone put a post in the Chat this week that said Love the people God gave you because He’ll want them back someday.

I suppose that could mean “love them while they’re here because death will take them someday,” but when I saw that statement, I thought about the fact that our children aren’t really ours. They’re God’s.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

Everything on the earth – including the humans that inhabit it – are God’s. The people around us – not just our children, not just our family and friends, everyone – are the people God gave us. Our “talents” maybe. How are we improving them?

Maybe that’s an odd question.

Let me put it like this: ladies, is that man a better man for having spent how many decades married to you?

Do you encourage him? Compliment him? Tease him out of his bad moods and treat him with respect and adoration? That’s your “talent” right there – the man God has given you. Is God going to see a return on what He’s invested with you?

You know, a man can do pretty much anything if he knows he’s got the support of his wife behind him. So what if he takes a wrong turn or comes up with a crazy idea or does something the world thinks is nuts. Throw in behind him and do everything you can to make it work.

He might fail anyway, but wouldn’t it be better to fail together, laughing and having a great time, rather than with you standing back with your hands on your hips telling him, “I told you so. I knew it wouldn’t work.”

God already gave him a mother – and it isn’t you. You’re his friend, his buddy, his playmate. You make him smile and ease his burdens and support him. That’s investing your “talent.”

I know. He’s grumpy and his feet stink and sometimes he’s mean. Rub his feet anyway and don’t worry about what you’re getting in return. God’s taking care of your increase.

But there are other around you beyond your husband and family.

Sometimes I wonder what the effects of a simple smile from a stranger might be down through eternity. How about a kind word? I already told the story about the kid who turned his life around because of a hand on his shoulder and one simple sentence. A changed life that influenced millions.

I know I’m just a simple farmer. God hasn’t given me any great abilities. I can’t sing a note. I don’t have any vast intelligence. Most of the time I can’t even think and talk at the same time. (And all my kids said AMEN!)

But maybe there are people around me – the talents that God has sprinkled in my life – who can use a kind word. Some encouragement. Someone to lift them up, help them, give them air. We can all be air, can’t we? As people come and go through our lives – the store clerk, our mailman, a fellow shopper, a co-worker – we can be air for them, use our abilities, whether it be a smile, an encouraging word, a helping hand, to lift them up and help move them along.

Something else along those lines I was thinking about. I said how the distribution wasn’t equal. One servant got ten talents while one got two.

Not fair.

Not to our eyes, anyway.

Some of us were born to wealth – a stable family, parents who loved us, plenty of food and good shelter. Some of us weren’t.

Some of us were born healthy and are relatively pain free. Others have struggled with disease and sickness, deal with pain daily and have many physical limitations.

Whatever our circumstances – the “talents” that we have in our lives – God expects us to use whatever we have, whether it’s a broken body, a broken heart, a broken life, so He can multiply it for his glory.

After all, Jesus was born in a stable, to poor parents who were surely the object of great scandal since the man his mother was married to was not his father, with the most powerful man in the land trying to kill him. He took that – the “talents” he was given, and turned it into a ministry that has attracted millions of followers thousands of years later.

He took uneducated fishermen, a crooked tax collector and hotheaded, temperamental Peter and just loved them. His encouragement and teaching and love gave them the “air” they needed to take the gospel throughout the known world at the time.

He used a killer to write most of the New Testament.

It’s miraculous what God can do with brokenness. In fact, it’s hard to find anyone in the Bible that God plucked from the top of the world and used for His glory.

So, if you’re at the bottom, rejoice! Seriously, that’s where God finds his best workers. The down and out. The humble and poor. The rejected and weak.

Whatever your situation is, whatever your “lot” in life, your intelligence, your possessions, everything you have, you can take what you’ve been given and multiply it – use it for God’s glory. Sometimes I think the more broken you are, the more beautifully God can use you.

Regardless, we all have “talents.” Lift up the people around you, the ones God gave you to be a light and blessing to, in whatever way you can. And don’t think that you don’t have enough, or your past is too terrible or your health not good enough.

God’s specialty is transforming brokenness into usefulness. Getting beauty from ashes. Doing the impossible. Using a smelly stable and a bunch of sleepy shepherds to glorify the birth of His son.

The Christmas story shows us – He can use anyone. Even me. Even you.

He just needs a willing vessel.

Multiply your talents by allowing the master potter to mold and shape you into something he can use and then passing anything and everything you can on to others.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Hugs and love,

~Jessie

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