Friday, September 16, 2011

The Wise Servant's Talent

During His ministry on the earth, Jesus Christ told a parable about a master who has three servants. The master was about to go on a journey, but before he left he gave each of his servants a few pieces of money called talents - to the first servant he gave five, to the second, three, and to the last, only one. He told them to use their talents wisely, then left. The first servant, through trade and hard work, was able to make his five talents into ten. The second did the same and was able to make his three talents into six. The third servant was afraid he might lose his one talent, so he burried it where no one could take it away. When the master returned, he called his servants forth and asked them what they had done with their talents. The first and second showed how they had doubled their original allotment, and the third brought his one coin, dug up afresh. The master commended the first two servants, saying, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. As thou has been faithful over a few things, I shall make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord." The unfaithful servant had his one talent taken away and was cast out, for he had not used faithfully that which was given him.

I am not going to give you a gospel discourse, as much as I do enjoy gospel doctrine. However, with the way my life has gone lately, this story now has a special significance for me that I would like to share with you. You are no doubt fully aware of the similarity between the financial incrament "talent," and the word "talent" we use in our English vocabulary today. When I was a child, I thought the similitude was a coincidence. "Wow - that's cool. They use a word like ours!" I didn't figure it out until later that the similarity is meant and intentional.

You probably already know all of that as well. However, there is something particular that interested me last time. The foolish servant wasn't reprimanded for having few talents. He received his rebuke because he hadn't made more of what he had been given. He would have received the same words if he had been given five talents, or ten, or twenty. It wasn't a matter of a small number - it was a matter of slothfulness, and of not making more of oneself. Likewise, the wise servant was praised not for having many talents, but for having made more of what he was given. The praise and honor would have been the same if it had been twenty talents or two. This is evident to me in the fact that the servant with four talents received the same reward as he who had five.

Very few people in this world are exceptionally talented, and even fewer are truly gifted. The other ninety five percent of us have to get along in the world with fewer talents. We all have some given to us, but most of the world less than others. But the ammount is not what is important. In the end it isn't a matter of how many talents we had. It isn't even a matter of perfecting the ones we were given, because as mere mortals there's only so refined as we can get it. The point is that we worked to keep the talents we had, and to make more of them than the original allotment we were given. Even if the improvement is a small one, and even if some of those talents end up being flowers "born to blush unseen," it all counts. The improvement is there. More is returned than what was given, you and others have grown in the process, and the Master is well pleased.

That is what I want more than anything in the world - for the Master to be well pleased in me. My largest efforts may reap smaller results than others achieve in this life, but that is not the objective. If my talents are improved and built upon, and I am able to return more than I was given, that is all that matters. Exceptionality isn't the point. The point is being the best I can be, whether or not my talents are small.

And that is something the Master can be pleased with in the end.

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