The Parable of the Talents

stained glass depicting the parable of the talents

In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a parable about three servants entrusted with different amount of money. Two double the amounts that had been given to him, but one had hidden the money – so fearful of losing his master’s investments that he had failed to do anything profitable with it. It’s an interesting coincidence that this money is called talents because that word really speaks to an application we can make for ourselves from this parable.

Talents and Talents

We categorize talents a great many ways. We have athletic talents, intellectual talents, and artistic talents. Some people are prodigies in certain skills while many of us have to work hard to develop and maintain our talents. These things take work, and that’s what these servants in the parable were supposed to do. They were supposed to work for their master with the resources and abilities they had.

Ephesians 2:8 – 10 tells us that we created for good works that God has prepared for us. We are kingdom workers. All of us have something to work with. I might think I have more or less than you to work with, but, like the servants in the parable, the expectation doesn’t change. We go into the world with the abilities and resources that we have, and we work for God in the ways that He has prepared for us.

Working with What We Have

Sometimes we focus too much on what we think we don’t have. Remember how Moses initially reacted when God came to Him in a burning bush in Exodus? Immediately, Moses begins listing the reasons he’s incapable of doing what God is asking Him to do. Regardless of his initial trepidation, God still sends Him, assuring Moses that His support is enough.

We sometimes say that God doesn’t call the prepared. Rather He prepares the called. You are the right person to do God’s work whether or not you think so. You can reach out to others whether or not you think you can teach. You can be part of worship whether or not you think you are good enough. God has prepared us for good works. Anything we say otherwise is an excuse. We need to be more like Isaiah, saying, “Here am I; send me.”

We have so many competing priorities of our resources and abilities, but Jesus, in Matthew 6, tells us to seek first His kingdom. It’s not about what we have but what we do. It’s not about our projected goals or our own measurements of success. It’s about making the effort. Some – like the man with five talents – have many resources and abilities; others not so much. But we can work for God regardless.

Working Together

Paul writes that some will be good encouragers, some teachers, some generous, and many other things. We all have ways to contribute to the kingdom, and we should all be willing to develop new ways. When we all pitch in how we can, then we are helping fill in where others might lack. Where we think we might be lacking, we should then be leaning on our fellow workers. We can accomplish more together than alone.

It’s also important to remember that this is not a competition. Each servant was valued based on what they did with what they individually had. It wasn’t a comparative value. As long as each was doing their part, they were profitable servants. I Corinthians 12 compares the church to a human body, and just imagine what a problem you’d have if your organs began to compete with each other! But we are healthy when our bodies’ various systems and organs all work together in harmony to keep us healthy.

We all work together to keep the kingdom healthy and strong. We all have things to contribute – not for our own selfish purpose, but for our God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We work with one purpose, one love, and one mind. We prioritize God, His kingdom, and our brothers and sisters before self. We are servants, and we have a great deal to do. We can only succeed if we’re in this together, so let’s use the talents and resources God has blessed us with. Let’s all be willing to say, “Here am I; send me.”

Lesson by Kevin Warfel

Written in Stone


Stones are important in God’s word. From early in the Bible to the final book, God places great significance on stones. One of the things stones serve as in the history of God’s people are memorials. Stones get placed in remembrance of something that happened at or near that location, and an early example of that is in Genesis 28:18. Here Jacob builds a stone memorial that will help Him remember God’s promises to Him, and God wants us to remember His promises today.

A Law in Stone

We sometimes refer to things as written in stone when we really mean it. In fact, James 5:12 tells us our word should be like this. If I make a promise, it is as if it is written in stone. Our promise is a memorial like that stone memorial Jacob built memorialized God’s promises. Genesis 31 sees Jacob build another stone memorial to seal a promise between him and Laban. Our promises and God’s promises are strong as the rock of the earth.

Later, when God’s people would build alters, God wanted them to use uncut stones. Their alters were to be built with stones as God made them, not fashioned with man’s hands. Likewise, God’s covenant with His people were written in stone, and they were handed down from a great stone — Mount Sinai in Exodus 19-20. Those stone tablets would remain in the ark of the covenant as a perpetual reminder of the promises between God and His chosen.

II Corinthians 3:7 tells us our new covenant is not written on physical stones. Rather, that covenant is on our hearts, and it should be written there every bit as securely as if carved in stone. The glory of the old law is nothing compared to the perfect law of liberty written on our hearts. He gives us a new covenant that transforms us into a new image. We become living stones upon which His promises are written.

Teaching Stones

Stones were to memorialize, and they were meant to be teaching tools as well. When Joshua leads the people across the Jordan River in Joshua 3 and 4, he has twelve people bring stones across to build a memorial. The purpose is to teach future generations what happened at that place. Think of the monuments and memorials spread around our country that allow us to teach our children what happened in our nation’s history.

We should be teaching others about what God has done for us. We should be teaching about Christ’s great sacrifice. We have a memorial we observe every week about that sacrifice. Let’s use it to teach each other the importance of what happened. As we use earthly memorials to teach about what others have done for us, we should be all the more passionate about passing God’s word and His promises on to our children.

Landmark Stones

Deuteronomy 19:14 is an example of using stones as landmarks. They mark boundaries and special locations. They should be unmovable and unchangeable. God’s word is that landmark to us, unmovable and unchangeable. Our standards do not alter because of changing standards in the world, nor do we move one word of God’s covenant with us. Christ died once and for all, and His covenant is set in stone.

We are under a new covenant that Hebrews 8 outlines as stronger and better than the one that came before it, and we are all the stones that help build the kingdom of the covenant. We are building blocks, and each of us is important to help each other keep His word, teach each other of His promises and deliverance, and help support one another. I Peter 1:22-25 tells us that our lives are like grass, but God’s word is forever. If we place our trust in that rock, though our lives are short, our hope endures forever.

lesson by Herb Smelser