3 My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
2 for length of days and years of life
and abundant welfare they will give you.
3 Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.
9 Honor the LORD with your substance
and with the first fruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My child, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the LORD reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘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.’
22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘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.’
24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter 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 replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
There was a very cautious man
Who never laughed or played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed.
And when he one day passed away
His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived,
They claimed he never died!
I was recently shopping through the Facebook marketplace- something Zach, my husband loves that I do…and I came across some of those decorative signs that you hang in your home and one of theme I realized embodied our scripture for today. It read; “Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid that you don’t try.”
(Fresh Eyes on Jesus’ Parables by) Doug Newton’s commentary on today’s text states, “Is the point really to be productive? No, the point is to try something, anything that will benefit the Master to some degree. The first and second servants were not equally productive, yet they received the same commendation and reward. The master was angry with the third servant for letting fear render him fruitless. He was unwilling to take any risk with what he had been given…the point is to honor the master’s resources enough to make the master’s business goals your priority; try something- anything- to be productive for him. My guess is that if any of the servants had come back and said, “I did my best to make something out of the money you gave me, but things did not work out as I hoped,” the master would not have gotten angry at him. In other words, faithfulness means risk more than results.
In a world that places so much emphasis on success and productivity, average Christians like us can easily get the idea that good results equal success and poor results equal failure. That’s why we hear only success stories. However, here’s the good news: in G-d’s kingdom, faithfully risking all you’ve been given for His purpose and glory, regardless of the results, pleases the Lord and gives you the experience of “Well done”…”
This phrase, “Well done good and faithful servant,” is a phrase that is often heard at funerals. It is used to celebrate people who have had a relationship with G-d and lived their lives in this path… A person who has not forgot G-d’s teachings, kept the commandments, who trusted in the Lord with all their heart and didn’t rely on their own understanding. Who honored the Lord with their first fruits. That knew the Lord’s love and mercy and had a relationship with G-d that mirrors a father that delights in their child.
So how does that connect with our passage for today? How is this story which seems to be about money come to be a celebration of a life well lived with G-d? And if G-d is the one who is disappointed with the man who buried the money in ground and chases him off. Is that a G-d we want to be in relationship with? I mean it does seem a little bit harsh right? I mean it’s not like he lost the money.
But maybe it wasn’t about the money at all. What if it was about a lack of trust or relationship or faith? Or know who your master is.
“There was once a poor, penniless beggar, who sat in the streets of an Indian town, day after day, begging passers-by for a little rice. At night, he would sleep on his mat, with only a few old rags to protect him against the cold night air.
Most days, he would be given enough rice to make himself a small meal at night, and enough copper to buy a little firewood, to cook the rice. And so his life continued, day after day- until one day, he heard that the emperor was coming to the town to make a state visit.
‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘the emperor is a good and saintly man. He will give me good gifts. He will not pass me by with a mere handful of race.’ So the next day, he made sure that he was sitting on the route where the emperor was going to pass by.
Soon, the sound of the imperial procession was heard, and the beggar placed himself beside the road. As the emperor’s coach approached, he was about to step out and beg for alms, when to his great surprise, the emperor himself got out of his coach, came up to the beggar, greeted him warmly and humbly, and asked the beggar for a little gift of rice.
The beggar was shocked and deeply disappointed. He, after all was the poor man, struggling to survive and dependent on the gifts of others, yet here was the rich and powerful emperor begging a little rice from the poorest of the poor. He could scarcely refuse the emperor’s request either, so very reluctantly he counted out five grains of rice from the meagre supply in his bow and gave them to the emperor, who received them graciously, thanked the beggar warmly and went on his way.
That night, the beggar began to prepare his meal. As he cleaned the rice, he noticed something shining in among the grains. Yes, there was a nugget of gold among the rice. And another. And another. He shifted through the rice with the utmost care, and to his amazement he discovered five nuggets of gold. Five. And no more.
He thought back to his encounter with the emperor. For each of the five grains of rice he had so reluctantly given to the emperor, he now had a nugget of gold. The emperor had returned his grudging gift with its equivalent in gold.
‘How mean and foolish I have been,’ he said to himself. ‘How I wish I had given the emperor every last grain of rice I possessed!’”
-Retelling of a traditional Indian story
Michelle Lee-Barnewall, in Surprised by the Parables, writes
“…scholars note that what the servant (in our Parable) did was not that unusual or problematic. A popular rabbinic saying describes burying money as the surest way to safeguard it. The Roman discovery of large underground stores of gold, silver, and other treasures after they conquered Jerusalem in AD 70 seems to reflect this practice.”…In Judaism, one served G-d not out of fear, but out of love…the most important prayer in Judaism, the Shema, emphasizes the importance of loving G-d….
Because the servant misunderstood G-d, he acted out of mistrust and fear, which led to laziness. Moreover, he blames the master for his actions…
What are the ‘talents’ that Christians today have? It is probably best to see these resources not as a single kind, but the whole of whole of what G-d may give someone, since G-d gives us a wide range of resources. The point is that we have been enabled by G-d to use what he gives us, and it is our responsibility to use all of it well…Think creatively about what you have to offer.
What are some things you are able to do for others because you have more time than they might have? Can you give an encouraging word to someone who really looks like they could use it? Can you open up your home to someone who needs a place to stay, even if just for a few days?…G-d has not given each of us the same things, but he has given us the same charge. When we realize G-d expects faithfulness rather than success it also takes a lot of pressure off….
It is frighteningly easy to compare myself with others. But I’ve begun to realize that I need to focus on the gifts and resources I’ve been given and to steward them well. No matter how many ‘talents’ I’ve been given, G-d can use them, and it is my responsibility to make them available and be willing to put them to use…
Our culture tells us to measure ourselves by tangible pieces of evidence that we are doing ‘well’—things that can be counted, measured, and compared. Scripture tells us that obedience and loving G-d are what matters….
G-d has not given me talents, gifts, and other resources to make me feel good about myself but to help bring others to wholeness and to help them be faithful disciples.
While the parable seems to stress the results of what the servants did, the more important point is seen in the master’s commendation of the first two. He calls them “good and faithful,” not “smart and successful.” Their reward is to “come and share your master’s happiness!” not “receive much applause in front of a huge crowd.” We are to evaluate the worth and effectiveness of what we do not in relation to other people but in relation to G-d.
Seeing G-d as Creator and connecting that to our role as caretakers of his creation was central to the Jewish mindset. One’s view of G-d profoundly impacted one’s stewardship. The third servant’s view of G-d as hard causes him to be fearful. We are not explicitly told what the other two servants think. But they are constant to the third servant and apparently felt free to take risks with the master’s money.
It is critical to see that much of what we do comes from our view of G-d. Do you see G-d as kind, loving, and forgiving? Or do you see him as harsh and vindictive? Think of how each view affects how you respond. Moreover, what do you see as your relationship with him? Is G-d simply there to fulfill your needs, get you out of trouble, and give you a happy/comfortable life? Or do you see following Christ as the opportunity to serve the G-d who saved you, to take part in the kingdom and what G-d is doing to redeem the world?”