Reflection on Matthew 25:14-30
This story moves along with a rhythm that creates a sense of expectation. But there is a twist at the end. The decreasing quantities of talents given, (a ‘talent’ was a large amount of money) simply serve to build the story to a climax. Surely the one given the least would have the easiest time of all making good use of it. But, no! This third servant is not only severely reprimanded by the master, what he has is taken away and given to another. In many ways this story is a tragedy.
No doubt, the master in this story represents God and the servants represent various types of people and their response and relationship to God. In most parables, Jesus is endeavouring to teach his listeners a number of lessons. Let’s look at a few of them together.
Reflection #1: God entrusts each of us with resources according to our ability
Like the master, God entrusts all people with a portion of his resources, expecting them to act as good managers. Notice that when the master left, he divided his assets and gave each of the three servants a different amount (5, 2, 1) and he did so in “proportion to their abilities (vs. 15).”
Reflection #2: God is pleased when we use and invest our resources
When the Master eventually returned, there was a time of accountability for how each of the servants had used the money entrusted to them (vs. 19). The first two servants immediately got to work, investing their money and over a period of time they earned 100% more (vs. 16-17). They obviously felt good about their own efforts and the master responded with praise, commendation, celebration and reward (vs. 21). Note that the servants were not treated in regards to the amount they had been given but for their faithfulness with what they had individually received (vs. 21-23). They both received the identical statement of praise and joy from the master. What matters most is not what we have been given but what we do with it.
Reflection #3: God is displeased when we play it safe and refuse to take risk.
The third servant dug a hole in the ground and hid his money, doing nothing with it (vs.18-25). The main problem was his attitude toward the master. His inaccurate perception became an excuse for his personal irresponsibility. In the same way, our view of God strongly influences our behaviour. The master was angry with this servant, calling him “wicked and lazy,” taking away what he had, and punishing him severely (vs. 26-30).
What is God like? From this parable, we could say that God is a risk-taker! He gives us resources and he wants us to make them grow. That requires overcoming the fear of failure. Think of the risks that Jesus took – challenging religious leaders, overthrowing deep-seated racial and gender prejudice, and entrusting his kingdom work to his often fickle followers. He also called others to take risks too – including leaving all and following him.