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Lessons From The Two-Talent Servant (Part 1)

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

By bro Justin Kwan

In Matt 25:14-30, Jesus narrates a story of a master who was leaving on a journey for some time and before his departure, he gave each of his three servants some money (talents) – five talents, two talents and one talent respectively. While the master was away, the servants who were given five talents and two talents made good use of what they were given and doubled what they initially received. In contrast, the servant who received one talent hid his talent in the ground out of fear. When the master returned to learn of that lazy servant’s action (or inaction), the master became angry and cast him out as an unprofitable servant.

This parable relates to how God creates each of us differently and bestows each of us with differing skills, abilities and opportunities; and the differing expectations He has of each of us based on our abilities. For those of us living in Singapore, the majority of us would agree that Singaporeans enjoy one of the highest standards of living by global economic comparisons. When we compare the abilities of each of the servants, we note that the two-talent servant was given fewer talents than the five-talent servant, but given more talent than the one-talent servant. As we reflect on our lives, most of us would probably categorise ourselves as the two-talent servant; not extremely wealthy/capable, but blessed with enough to get by. Thus, let us explore some lessons from the two-talent servant.

We Are Not Created Equal

The most overlooked part of this parable is the second half of v15 – the master gives to each servant talents, “…each according to his ability.” The master understood that the one-talent servant was not capable of producing as much as the five-talent servant. We may want to protest this as unfair. Yet we know this is true from our own experience. Diversity is woven into the fabric of creation.

Society tends to favour the wealthy and place higher importance on choicest occupations such as doctors, lawyers and scientists while having little admiration for less favourable blue-collared jobs. These societal constructs are not the intent of God’s creation but rather the result of man’s carnal thoughts.

Even though we’re not created equal with regards to the talents we’re given, there is equality found in the Parable of the Talents. It comes from the fact that it takes just as much work for the five-talent servant to produce five more talents as it does the two-talent servant to produce two more talents. This is why the two-talent servant was recognised for his diligence and given the same reward by the master. The master measures success by the degree of effort put in, as should we.

To Whom Much Is Given, From Him Much Will Be Required (Lk 12:48)

In the movie Spiderman, Uncle Ben’s words of wisdom to Peter Parker was, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This seems somewhat of an idiomatic expression to Lk 12:48.

The idea of “to whom much is given, from him much will be required” is that we are held responsible for what we have. If we are blessed with talents, wealth, knowledge and time, it is expected that we use these well to glorify God and benefit others.

It is easy to assume that only wealthy people have been “given much,” but, in truth, we have all been given much (1 Cor 4:7). We have been granted the abundant grace of God (Eph 1:3-10) and the Word of God which is able to make one wise for salvation (2 Tim 3:15).

God also gives us resources such as money and time; talents such as culinary, crafting or musical abilities; and other gifts such as intellect and eloquence. We should ask God for wisdom on how to use those resources and commit ourselves to utilising them according to His will so that He may be glorified. The Apostle Paul said, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Rom 12:6–8). This is responsible stewardship.

The two-talent servant was not as endowed as his five-talent colleague, but unlike the one-talent servant, that did not stop him from realising his true potential. He understood his abilities and maximised his potential to earn another two talents for his master.

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