14 “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who was leaving on a trip. He called his servants and handed his possessions over to them. 15 To one he gave five valuable coins, and to another he gave two, and to another he gave one. He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability. Then he left on his journey.
16 “After the man left, the servant who had five valuable coins took them and went to work doing business with them. He gained five more. 17 In the same way, the one who had two valuable coins gained two more. 18 But the servant who had received the one valuable coin dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.
19 “Now after a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received five valuable coins came forward with five additional coins. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant! You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
22 “The second servant also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two valuable coins. Look, I’ve gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me.’
24 “Now the one who had received one valuable coin came and said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest grain where you haven’t sown. You gather crops where you haven’t spread seed. 25 So I was afraid. And I hid my valuable coin in the ground. Here, you have what’s yours.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You evil and lazy servant! You knew that I harvest grain where I haven’t sown and that I gather crops where I haven’t spread seed? 27 In that case, you should have turned my money over to the bankers so that when I returned, you could give me what belonged to me with interest. 28 Therefore, take from him the valuable coin and give it to the one who has ten coins. 29 Those who have much will receive more, and they will have more than they need. But as for those who don’t have much, even the little bit they have will be taken away from them.
The “coins” in this story were valuable indeed. “The Greek word is talanton, often translated as ‘talent,’ which refers to a monetary unit equal to more than 16 years of earnings for a laborer.” * Yet Jesus didn’t put the emphasis on the sheer amount of money, but rather on how faithful each servant was or wasn’t with whatever amount he had. Jesus said the test of our faithfulness to God is not in how much money or ability we have. Rather, the key is our willingness to use any resources of energy, time, skills, money, or other assets God gives us to bless others and build God’s kingdom.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the good abilities and resources you’ve placed in my life (even if I sometimes wish there were more of them). Help me to manage them in ways that are faithful to your principles. Amen.
* Eugene Eung-Chun Park and Joel B. Green, study note on Matthew 25:15 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 54 NT.
We learn powerful lessons about money from our culture, advertising and marketing, and financial experts. Often, those lessons come from the people around us, like family or friends.
When it comes to financial matters, the most influential person in my life was my father. My dad taught many financial lessons. Here’s a picture—he also taught me how to mow the grass in perfectly straight lines.
My dad was, and is today, an incredibly hard worker. Growing up, I watched him work two jobs. During the day, he drove local delivery for a trucking company. Then, after a brief nap, several evenings a week he worked at a grocery store stocking shelves to make sure our family had enough. I’m incredibly grateful for my dad. Some years money seemed tight, other years money seemed abundant. So, at a young age, I decided I’d make enough money to be independent, I mowed yards up and down the neighborhood. From this hard-earned sweat equity my dad taught me the importance of giving the first 10% of my earnings to the church.
Let me ask you, what lessons did you learn about money and generosity?
Money can be a challenging subject to talk about. Henri Nouwen, the late Catholic priest and writer, suggested, “The reason for the taboo is that money has something to do with that intimate place in our heart where we need security, and we do not want to reveal our need or give away our security…we fear being dependent on others because of the idea that dependence is a threat to our security.” * There’s a cultural pressure to secure our future, to keep up with everyone else—and wherever you live—to make it.
And yet, throughout Jesus’ teachings, he invites us to live according to a different set of values. In Matthew’s gospel, we read about the parable of the talents which poses a question to us, how will we live generously and invest daringly in others? I wonder, what will you do with the gifts you’ve been given? Sometimes, those gifts are financial resources, but other times our gifts are time, energy, skills, and passions given to us by God to use for the benefit and blessing of others.
* Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Fundraising, 31.