In Matthew 25 Jesus tells a number of “second-coming” parables, one of which is the well-known and oft-quoted Parable of the Talents.
In this parable a man makes an extended trip to a far country so he entrusts his servants with some of his financial resources to invest while he is away. He gives one servant five talents (talent was a unit of weight, about 75 pounds, to measure coinage and now is used to indicate an ability), one two talents, and the other one talent.
The servant who received the five used them to make five more, the one receiving the two made two more, and the servant who received the one talent buried it in the ground for safekeeping until his master returned. When the master returned from his journey he commended the two servants that doubled his money and gave them more responsibility. But the master was furious with the servant with whom there was no return on his investment and he called him wicked and lazy and commanded his one talent be taken away and given to the one who now has ten.
The meaning we generally attribute to the parable is one of commitment—being faithful and obedient to God by committing all our “talents” to Him and His Kingdom
While this meaning is certainly plausible, I think Jesus has something more to show us in this story.
Jesus draws an unusual, peculiar, even dramatic conclusion to the story. His conclusion makes an assertion that is contrary to popular opinion; it’s a paradox: “For to the one who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matthew 25:29, NASB).
In Luke 19:25 Jesus draws this same conclusion to a slightly different version of the Parable of the Talents.
Now, the story could have had a proper ending without this paradoxical proclamation and Jesus would have clearly made the point that we should use our talents for God’s Kingdom.
We all know that…Commitment is easy…It’s something we can all do…In our own strength.
But the parable is not about commitment, it’s about productivity! It’s not about what we can do for Him, but what He can do through us!
Jesus doesn’t just want obedience, He wants us to be productive! He wants to bless our earthly obedience with His heavenly productivity!
The fact that the one talent was taken from the unproductive servant and given to the most-productive servant reinforces this productivity proposition. And, to those who are productive in God’s Kingdom, more is given! More rewards, more responsibility!
The bottom line is, if you are not about making more disciples for the Kingdom of God, then you are not being productive. If you are not productive, then you are not committed. And, if you are not a productive disciple, then you are a disobedient disciple!
But, if you are still not convinced, then consider that Jesus also assigned this productivity proposition to another well-known parable, the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 and Luke 8.
In the Parable of the Sower Jesus explained how the hearing of God’s word can take different forms in different hearers. For some who hear it and believe it, the word does not take root in their lives or is choked out by the cares of the world, leaving them to believe they possess something that they do not really have. But for other believers, the word of God takes root in their lives and they become faithful and productive believers.
As in the Parable of the Talents, the responsibilities and rewards of God’s Kingdom were given to the faithful and productive believers and taken away from the unfaithful and unproductive believers: “For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (Luke 8:18, NASB).
Productivity in the Kingdom of God happens on purpose, not by accident. It is an act of the will of the disciple.
As a disciple of Jesus and a citizen of the Kingdom of God, you are faced with some very important business decisions about your participation in the Kingdom enterprise. And, in God’s Kingdom you must either be productive or else your service to the Kingdom may not be required. In fact, you could become a liability!
So, be a practicing, intentional disciple of Jesus. Be a deliberate disciple and you will be a productive disciple.
Be a deliberate, productive disciple in the present so that you can become a responsible and rewarded disciple in the future.
Live in such a way that you are becoming in this present life what you will surely be in eternity!
- The Present and Future Disciple, Part 1 – Inextricably Linked (stevesbiblemeditations.com)
- The Present and Future Disciple, Part 2 – The Eternity Factor (stevesbiblemeditations.com)
- The Unproductive Disciple – Mark 4:16-19 (stevesbiblemeditations.com)
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