The Parable of the Talents is one of the more well known parables told by Jesus in the book of Matthew. But what is the meaning of the Parable of the Talents and what can we learn from it?
The Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25:14-30 if you’d like to read it word for word. I am not going to type out the whole thing here but I will give a summary of the story.
In the Parable of the Talents a very wealthy man is going on a trip and before he leaves he decides to divide his talents among his servants. It should be noted that “talents” in this sense are not the type of talents we are familiar with. A talent at that time was a form of money. A talent actually equaled 6,000 denari and one denari was worth a days work. So one talent was worth 6,000 denari, 6,000 days of work. That comes out to about 16 and a half years of wages. We’re dealing with a lot of money.
The three servants were each given a different amount of talents. Eventually the wealthy man returns and asks the three servants what they did with the money. The first servant, the one with the most talents, said he had doubled his money. The second servant, the one with the second most about of talents also doubled his money. The third servant, with the least talents, said that he buried his talents so he did not gain any, but he did not lose any. The man then scorns the third servant for not using his talents to gain more talents.
The Parable of the Talents is not a difficult one to decipher, especially since we have a lot of help with the double meaning of the world talent. Basically God has given each one of us talents except that our talents are the kind we are familiar with, abilities that we are gifted at. God wants us to go out and use these talents and not to bury them and never use them. If we do use our talents then God will reward us for our diligence but if we do not use our talents we will be punished.
It’s very fitting that in this parable the money that is given to the servants is basically a loan to them. At no point in time does the money actually belong to the servants, it belongs to the wealthy man and they are simply using it. That is the same way with our talents and basically everything we have in life. We don’t actually own anything, it all belongs to God and we are just using it to work for him.
Another important point about the Parable of the Talents is the amount of talents involved. In the parable it makes sure to point out that the three servants had a different amount of monetary talents and we each have a different amount of ability talents. One person might be a good speaker, one person might be a good musician and one person might be a good speaker and musician. The number of talents we have does not matter.
It also doesn’t matter how much we accomplish. The first two servants both double their talents but the first had more talents. When he doubles his talents he makes more money than the second servant. That doesn’t matter to the wealthy man though and it doesn’t matter to God who does the most. If you use the talents that are given to you then that is all that matters.