‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Three slaves all entrusted with money. Which of them was the most honest? Was it one of the two, who used their skills to make more money for their master or was it the one who spoke the truth? The words “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man” might not have been welcomed by the master, but his subsequent actions seem to show them to be true.
Some translations use the word “servant” rather than “slave”. Then as now slaves are usually treated badly. Some organisations estimate that there are about 45 million slaves today, which is more than during the transatlantic slave trade. We need to do all we can to stop this and protect people from exploitation.
If we think of these three men as servants, it can be a little different. A servant is paid and usually skilled. Servants should use their skills to do what their master wants or needs. I was about to write that I’ve never had a servant but that is untrue. In a couple of days I’ll have a servant in my house, I’ll not call him a servant as he is a carpenter who will be fitting some new doors. A skilled tradesman who, I hope, will do an excellent job as he did when he fitted our kitchen. That is what a servant should do, use his or her skills to do what is required. One of these servants, or slaves, failed and was criticised.
In Daniel 6:20 we read “O Daniel, servant of the living God”. We share that attribute with Daniel. We are servants of God and should do our best, not because God will punish us if we fail, but because we act out of love for Him.
Almighty God we are pleased to serve you, Loving God show us what You want us to do, Enable us to serve you as You want served. Make us true and loyal servants showing an example to others so others will want to come to know You. We pray that just as the number of talents increased so will the number of people following you. Help us all to be good and trustworthy servants. Amen