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What Does the Parable of the Talents Mean for Us Today?

Clarence L. Haynes Jr.
What Does the Parable of the Talents Mean for Us Today?

For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. – Matthew 25:14-15 (NJKV)

These verses are the opening to what is known as the parable of the talents. The whole parable is found in Matthew 25:14-30. A talent, just so you know, was a measure of money. And, comparatively speaking, it was no small sum of money. One talent could be valued at around $400,000 in today’s dollars.

However, the parable of the talents is not really talking about money. More importantly, it is talking about stewardship, responsibility, and preparedness. When you look at this parable, it really is one of self-examination...and that is what we're going to do.

I want to highlight some of the top takeaways from the parable of the talents, which I will do by asking four questions.

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The Importance of Matthew 25:13

image of Jesus Christ bursting through blue and orange sky Son of God

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. – Matthew 25:13 (NKJV)

The foundation of the parable of te talents really begins with this verse. That’s why this parable is one of preparedness—because eventually, Jesus is coming back. In this story, the man traveling is Jesus and we are the servants. With that being understood, let’s look closer so we can find those top takeaways from this parable of the talents.

What Does The Parable of the Talents Mean?

Consider what Jesus said in Matthew 25:14-15. A man traveled to a far country, called his own servants, delivered his goods to them, and immediately went on a journey. I hope you can see the parallels. Jesus came to earth, called his disciples, entrusted them with the message of the gospel, and departed when he ascended back to heaven. By the way, Matthew 25:19 completes this snapshot.

After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. (NKJV)

This verse is a reminder that not only did Christ leave this earth, but one day he will come back and we will have to give account. This is one of the top takeaways. The parable of the talents is a reminder that Jesus is coming back and we have some work to do. With that being said, here are 4 questions I want you to consider.

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1. What Has God Given You?

Kids in a classroom with a teacher, parable of the talents

One of the phrases that leaps off the page to me when I read this story is “to each according to his own ability.” This leads me to ask the simple question: what has God given you to do? What is your role and expectation in the kingdom?

Remember, he began the parable by saying the kingdom of heaven is like. God has given you a responsibility, according to your ability. So often we leave the work of preaching the gospel and making disciples to those who are “called” to do it. Well, the reality is that calling is for all of us. Some may have more responsibility if God has called them to do that in a full-time capacity, but we are all called to this purpose. These are the goods God has delivered to you and me.

Whether God has positioned you to do this full-time or not, please recognize what God has given you. The message of the gospel (the goods) is alive in you if you know Jesus as your savior.

2. What Are You Doing with It?

Now that you are aware of the responsibility, because it applies to everyone, what are you doing with it? I don’t just want to be theoretical here, I want to be very practical. Remember, one had 5 talents, one had 2 talents, and one had 1 talent. I want you to shift your mindset for a moment and understand something. Everyone is in full-time ministry. The difference is what is the primary focus of your ministry.

Some people’s ministry is only focused on the gospel and disciples all the time (5 talents). Some people work full-time outside of a church or “ministry” setting and may volunteer to serve in church. For this person the majority of their ministry happens in their jobs and communities (2 talents or 1 talent). So being a teacher, business person, an accountant (or whatever your occupation) is full-time ministry.

The difference is that the primary focus of your ministry is not just preaching the gospel. You may have kids to teach, or people to manage, or numbers to crunch—but it is still ministry. In the course of working, you can shine light and share the truth of the gospel when the opportunities arise.

The bottom line is you may not be able to do as much as someone with 5 talents, but you still can contribute with the talents God has given you.

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3. Are You Ready for His Return?

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One of the top takeaways from this parable of the talents is the suddenness of the master’s return. This takes us back to Matthew 25:19

After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. (NKJV)

There are two points of emphasis here: 1) the master (Jesus) will return one day, and 2) we will have to give account. The master didn’t announce his coming, he just came back after a long time. It will be the same with Jesus. After a while, he will come back. The question is, are you ready for his return? Another way of looking at it is—what would you want to be doing when Jesus returns? Hopefully, the answer is to be taking what he has entrusted you with and sharing it with those around you. After all, this is the only way possible he can get a return on what he has entrusted you with.

4. What Will Jesus Say to You on That Day?

When you read the whole story, there were two different responses given to the servants. Two of them heard "well done" and one heard "you wicked, lazy servant." That is why it is so important to focus on what you do with the responsibility God has given you and not the amount of responsibility God has given you.

The irony of this situation is the man with the smallest amount of responsibility was the one who was declared wicked and lazy. This tells me that the measure of evaluation is not how much God has given you but what are you doing with it. In other words, there are no excuses.

I know this is challenging, but it is part of the calling and what Jesus has entrusted us to do. What God has given you is real and valuable and you have a responsibility to share it, even if all you have is 1 talent. That can make a huge difference in the kingdom of God, and it can make a difference in what God will say to you on that day.

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The Parable of the Talents Conclusion

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There you have it. Those are some of the top takeaways from the parable of the talents. Now, where do you go from here?

I encourage you to consider what God has entrusted and placed in you. Consider what he is asking you to do. Remember everyone is not going to be full-time (5 talents) tasked with preaching the gospel. Most of us will only have 2 talents or 1 talent.

Whatever God has tasked you to do, work at it with all your might, being the best you can be and doing all you can for the kingdom of God. It will all be worth it.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

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