How many times have you looked around and thought, "if only I had enough money, talent or knowledge, I could really do something for God"? In Matthew 25:14-30, we see that three individuals were all entrusted with differing values of money, called talents. One received five talents, the next with two, and the third with one. The first two servants put their talents to work and doubled their money--not bad. But the third servant, out of fear of what he thought his master might do, dug a hole and hid the money that was entrusted to him. When the master returned, he was pleased with the first two servants and entrusted them with even more, but concerning the third servant, he was angry and took the one talent from the servant and gave it to the one with ten.
In Jesus' day, the talent was not a coin but the weight of the total coinage. The value of the talent was dependent upon whether the coinage was copper, silver or gold. In this parable we do not know the value of each servant's talent, but we do know that they differed in weight. The emphasis is placed, not on the value of each servant's talent, but on what they did with what they were entrusted with.
What is the modern equivalent of a talent? What do you have that could fit into this parable to evaluate where you stand? Today, a talent could be considered anything God has entrusted to you that could be used to serve Him and others. Time, money, and skills could certainly be considered talents to be used for the greater good of the kingdom. But let's not think big; let's think small. What seemingly insignificant things do you possess that could yield a profit in God's kingdom?
In Jesus' day there was a young lad who found himself in the midst of over five thousand hungry people. What could this youngster possibly do that would have an impact on this situation? After all, he only possessed the modern equivalent of a bag lunch--five loaves and two fish. What would he do with his talent? He could hide it under his garment or he could make it available to Jesus, even though it may seem comparatively useless when looking at the problem. This young man chose to invest his talent in the work of Jesus. And the results? Who would have guessed that five loaves and two fish would have yielded enough to feed over five thousand people?
This young man, unlike the third servant in the parable, was not reduced to irrelevancy by religious paralysis. Instead, he saw the need, recognized his talent, heard the invitation and then dared to walk in the supernatural. The real reward of the faithful steward is the thrill of "entering into the joy of the master."
In this parable, Jesus shows us that authentic religion is accompanied by adventure. Serving the Lord with all that we have makes life exciting and fulfilling. While we may not all possess the same gifts, the kingdom of God has a way of leveling the playing field in that it gives us all the opportunity to fully participate. It's not how many talents you have, rather it's how you use them (or lose them.)
We also see in this reading that for most of us, our vocation is lived out in the context of everyday life. In the kingdom of God, the mundane is an opportunity to yield eternal fruit. If we wait for a "dividing of the Red Sea," or "Mt. Sinai" experience, we will miss our opportunity to be faithful servants in the context of everyday living. Look around your home, your office, your closets, your garage, your portfolio, and in your mind and heart. You may discover buried talents. Quick, grab your shovel, there's still time!