"So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ " Matt 25:20
The parable of the talents teaches that the resources given to us are a responsibility for us to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. The word talent in the parable referred to money, but over time the meaning of the word in English changed to abilities, leading to a misunderstanding of the parable.
Verse 15 says that the money or resources were given to them according to the abilities they had. Often people say that they do not have the abilities to serve the kingdom of God. But, what this parable brings out is that if we have resources, we have the ability to invest those resources for the benefit of the kingdom. God is not necessarily looking for great natural talents and gifts, but for a willingness to invest in the kingdom of God.
Those with great natural talents and gifts tend to interpret the parable as God wanting them to use their talents and gifts but not necessarily their money. This is wrong. God wants us to invest not only our abilities and gifts but also the resources he has given us.
The individual who had 5 talents ended up with 10 talents plus the 1 talent giving him 11 talents. This would indicate that when we invest our material resources in the kingdom of God, God gives us more resources to use for His kingdom.
What does it mean to invest in the kingdom? To invest in the kingdom is not just giving to missions, but living the Christian life of generosity in the place where God has put us. As we study the Old Testament teaching on Generosity, we will see that it involves being generous to those around us in church, at our place of residence, at our place of work etc. Thus we sow seeds of kindness and reap a harvest for the kingdom, just like Jesus’ acts of kindness reap a great harvest for God the Father.
The meaning of our whole life is the stewardship of the resources entrusted to our care, not done with fear but with the joy of knowing God’s presence in our life. Jonathan Onigbinde of Nigeria pointed out that the individual with the one talent had a wrong understanding of God as an unjust taskmaster. Because of this he was afraid and could not fulfil his responsibilities. When we see God as a caring parent, who guides us and is delighted in our intent to serve Him, we can be free to invest resources, knowing some of the investments may be erroneously done, but there will be no punishment for the same. We are free to be generous.
Do you use the resources given to you by God for the kingdom or do you see it as a personal blessing to you?