Parable of Talents
Mat 25: 14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
The Parable of the Talents follows the Parables of the Ten Virgins about the Kingdom of God, of some foolish brides who missed the coming of the brigegroom because their lamps were not filled with oil being unprepared and growing weary of the long wait for the return of God. The parable of the talents is "again" talking about the Kingdom of God. Here the story changes to the Master coming back to find the servant hiding the money given and not sowing it.
Traditionally, we are quick to see the Master as Jesus and the servants as Christians. We may even asked whether we are servants of God, fearful perhaps of where God will lead us with the money we equate as the capabilities given to each. The interpretation then is how we sow the gifts given for the Kingdom purpose, for all the servants were given a certain measure of talent.
A more insightful reading of the verses consistent with the context is to see who Jesus was criticising in His sermons. The servants were slaves and so they didn't have a choice in obeying the commandments of their masters. The bible calls us bondslaves to Jesus Christ by virture of our acceptance of Him as Lord and Saviour. We have offered our bodies as a living sacrifice, wholly and acceptable to God to do God's purpose and will. However, here the slaves refer to the Jews, to a people called after God's name, the bond servants of God.
The servants should not be seen as individuals, but rather as groupings of people. The talents or money are not giftings or abilities, rather it is the message of the Kingdom of God, the message of the Good News. The entire parable is related to the Kingdom of God, the growth of the Kingdom, how the message of the Good News is spread. The message can be muti-faceted from Salvation in Jesus Christ, to social justice.
We may see the servants in the parable as Christians, but they were actually the Pharisees and Saducees. They were the first in the Kingdom of God, for the reality and personhood of God was revealed to them first. They were to take this message of God's love and grace to the nations. Unfortunately, when the Master came, not only they hide the message given for them to preach but they killed the Master.
The coming back of the Master, reflects the coming back of Jesus Christ. In the parable of the 10 virgins, they missed the boat because they did not have the oil in their jar. They didn't know the times, they missed the visitation of Jesus Christ, did not recognized Him as God and Saviour, and therefore failed to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit reflected in the jars of oil. They missed out the baptism unto repentance. They were the foolish virgins because they missed the opportune time to acknowledge the Messiah.
Similarly, the Parable of the Talents is also about the Kingdom of God instituted by the coming back of Jesus Christ, the Master. Here again, the Pharisees and Saducees had the law, had the bible, yet were so fearful of God that instead of proclaiming love, mercy and grace, they dug a hole to bury the good news and instead preached the fear of God and judgement through the law. Therefore, when the Master came back, when Jesus came back, He calls them brood of vipers, for leading people away from God. He condemned them to hell with the gashing of teeth. It was not in anyway a reflection of Christians not using the giftings God has given them.
The Parable of the Talents is also reflective of the Kingdom of God, in the sowing and reaping. Here each was given a different amount of talent reflective of the giftings. The giftings here were the calling and not the amount of money. We are called to different ministries and work for the extension and growth of the Kingdom of God reflective of God's nature.
The Servants actually did very little work. They just sow what was given to them, and the harvest comes naturally. The message here to Christians is not about using our gifts and capabilities for the Kingdom, but about stepping into our calling. For some, it is to preach the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ. For a few, it is about social justice. No calling are exactly the same. The calling of God here is for us to step into the area of ministry God has for us. When we step in, the harvest will be there for the extension of the Kingdom because it is God's ability and not ours, for Jesus is the God of the Harvest.
As Christians, the Parable of the Talents is not directed towards us but to the Pharisees who were condemned as misusing the ministry they had. Hence, we are not the Servant condemned for not sowing his talent. Rather the talent that the servant had, was given to the other servant who sowed the talent given. Why? the other servant represents the Gentiles who took over the role of spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God to the World. The Jews as a whole did not extend the Kingdom of God beyond Judea. The message of the Kingdom of God was carried in large part by the Gentiles as it spread across to Asia Minor and then to Rome and the known world. The first shall be the last, and the last first.
How is the Parable of the Talent applicable to Christians in the 21st century?
God didn't give us money. God did not give us giftings. He gave us an annointing and a calling, and in moving in our annointing that we find our role and part in extending the Kingdom of God. The gifts will come naturally. It is all about the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Master who has come back and will come back again. It doesn't matter if we have zero gifts and capabilities, we just have to sow what has been given to us, what we have in our hands, our two loaves and two fishes. The rest is for God to multiple and not us to strive to do.
God is not looking at your capability, He is not even looking at your availability. He is looking at your unique calling to the Kingdom of God that possibly few others can fill. You may even be the least, eg a toe, but imagine how difficult for the body to balance without it. So all our callings are important.
As Gay Christians, we are probably not called to build mega churches for the masses, or leading evangelist. Our individual calling however may be just as important. The question may not be whether we are a Servant of God, but to ask and to seek that calling and annointing to play our part in the extension of the Kingdom of God, and be at rest in it for God's will to do the multiplication. We are just to stand firm in that calling and not waiver like some of the 10 virgins. For it is in that calling, we receive the jars of oil, the annointing of the Holy Spirit. We are to be at rest and at peace in our journey together with the Holy Spirit in our calling.
How do we hide our talents? by denying ourselves, and our destiny. Staying in the closet is like burying our talents to God fearful that when we come out of the closet, God will condemn us.
Our redemption often starts in accepting God's calling for us with respect to our sexual orientation. Our calling is often wrapped around where we are and where God put us in, in that moment of time and space, to be Christ to all. Most of all, how God created us as a Gay person of destiny and hope of a good future. Let us not compare to others next to us, for God often calls us to that which we are most suited to, and what is success to God's eyes may be just standing in that calling even though others may not see much in it. For who knows what God can do with the little we have. All glory and honour goes to Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
God has a good plan and a future for you and me.
(Ray Boltz who sang this song is gay. Thank you for coming out)