Jesus tells the disciples a story about a man who will be going away on a journey near the end of his ministry (Matthew 25:14-30). This man shares his wealth with his servants before departing, offering them no explanation as to what they are supposed to do with this entrusted property. The amount of wealth he entrusts to his servants is a huge sum. To the first he offers five talents, to the second, two, and to the third, one. A talent is just short of an annual salary for a day laborer, so this amount entrusted to the servants is more money than they’ve ever possessed at one time.
The first and the second servants invest their master’s property, and the sum doubles with each. The third returns the master’s investment neither gaining or losing any value 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.” This third servant is called “lazy,” and “wicked,” and he is thrown out in the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Yikes!
This parable is about money, but then again it isn’t. Sharing our wealth is an important spiritual discipline. In the early church the disciples shared all of their possessions with each other (going well above the typical tithe!) so that all might be filled (Acts 2:45). We also share our wealth as a statement of faith, trusting that God will produce a kingdom from our earthly gifts in much the same way that simple bread is transformed into the body of Christ during Holy Communion. In other words, if we alone control our wealth, we will only produce what the earth will allow; however if we offer our gifts to God, transformation of the earth is the fruit the Kingdom will yield.
But the parable isn’t so much about money as it is about God’s abundance and how much God shares with us. We each have been given talents to share in the body of Christ. A friend of mine adopted this parable as a means of church growth. Everyone who comes to his church is asked three questions: 1. What do you to do well enough that you could teach someone else to do it? 2. What do you want to learn? 3. Other than God, who is walking with you on your journey? In other words, what talent has God offered to you, and how can you invest that talent within the community? What would you like to learn from other talented people? With whom do you chose to walk on this one wild adventure we call life?