The Chinese have a saying,

“Wealth does not pass three generations.”

And from a young age, this aphorism has been used to teach me prudence and the careful use of money. So growing up, I always had a problem with this parable.

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.” Matthew 25:14-17 [ESV]

I used to think that if God ever entrusted me with His property, there was no way I would ever risk trading it, because we all know that in business, there is always the risk of loss. So what if I lost all that He entrusted me on a bad deal? In fact, the last servant’s actions would have been my own.

“But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.” Matthew 25:18 [ESV]

I mean, think about it. Keeping it safe would have at least ensured that I did not lose it, right? So imagine how vexed I was whenever I read the master’s reply.

“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Matthew 25:26-30
So because I had no business sense, because I had no confidence that I could turn a profit, because all my life, my investments have always lost me money, I was therefore to be sent to hell? Wow, God really is a hard task master.

Have you thought like that too? This fear ever cross your mind? Well, if it has, have a closer look at this parable with me and see why we need not fear.

When the master entrusted the servant with the money, did he make any demands? Did he set any expectations?

“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

“It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left.” Matthew 25:14-15 [MSG]

“It is just like a man going abroad who called his household servants together before he went and handed his property to them to manage. He gave one five thousand pounds, another two thousand and another one thousand—according to their respective abilities. Then he went away.” Matthew 25:14-15 [PHILLIPS]

Nope. He never left any performance indicators. He never left any expectations. He did not even tell them that he expected a profit upon his return. The servants were merely told to manage the talents. So, if one of them made a loss on a business deal, would he be wrong? Would he have disobeyed the master?

So it is with us. When our Father gives us gifts, He makes no expectations on us for their use. He doesn’t tell us that He expects us to cut 10 Grammy winning albums when He gives us the voice of an angel. He doesn’t tell us that He expects us to win a million souls when He gives us the gift of empathy and encouragement. He makes no such demands. So say you have been given the voice of an angel, and you try your hand at cutting an album and it flops. Have you been disobedient?

Ah, but do you see the irony here? If you have been given talent, if you are therefore, by definition, ‘talented’ in that area, can you fail? How can a talented musician play horrible music? How can a talented singer sing horribly? How can a talented writer produce garbage? You can’t… unless you do it deliberately.

Now if we choose to deliberately not sing well, if we choose to deliberately not write well, if we choose not to use our talents at all, what are we essentially doing? We are burying our talents in the ground. And if we do that, are we managing it? Have we been responsible over it? Are we still being obedient? And that’s the rub.

Our Father does not make any demands on you when He gave you talent. He never set out any expectations for you nor did He give you any performance indicators. He never said that in order to qualify for your talents, in order to keep them, you need to maintain a certain level of performance. He never said that you needed to keep your ‘talent ledger’ in the black. He simply gave them to you. So don’t go away with the wrong idea, thinking that He is

“…a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. ” Matthew 25:24

His gift of talent was always yours to have in the first place. He never wanted it back. Neither was He looking to profit from your gain. Instead, when you use the talents that He has given you, and you prosper because you are literally talented in the area, He rejoices with you and gives you even more.

“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance;” Matthew 25:29

What He doesn’t like is if we don’t use our talents, choosing instead to hide it and forget about it.

Think about it. You bought someone a very expensive gift, a gift you know he could really use, a gift you know he needed. You spent time choosing it, effort thinking about it; and when he finally receives it, he chucks it in the attic and forgets about it. Would you not feel hurt?

Similarly, our talents were purpose built for us, to aid us, enrich us and benefit us; just like Jesus said,

“If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!” Matthew 7:11 [AMPC]
What we have are good and advantageous things, and probably things that we ourselves have asked for. So when we decide to chuck them in our attic or bury them in the ground, what are we really saying to our Father?

And don’t be afraid that you will use your talent poorly. How can you fail in something you have the talent for? Not only that, your talents were given based on your abilities. Our Father never gives strong jumping legs to someone who is afraid of heights. Nor does He make a dog whisperer out of someone who is afraid of dogs. You must have had the innate ability to begin with, and your talent is there to enhance and augment that ability.

So our Father gives you talent in areas where you already have some ability. Our Father makes no demands on your use of them. Our Father also sets neither timeline nor performance indicators on their use. Under such non-threatening circumstances, there is no reason not to use our talents. Not only that, He promises that

“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance;” Matthew 25:29

The more you use them, the more you will be given.

So stretch your wings. Use your talents. Don’t be afraid that they will be used up. Instead prepare yourself to receive even more.

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