One talent in Jesus' time equated to (approximately) the life-time's earnings of a common person. So for a slave to be given five or two or even one talent would have been understood to the listeners of this parable as something unusual and an absolutely unheard of amount of money and responsibility given over to a slave.
Two of these individuals were smart and savvy enough to double what they had been given. One buried his treasure and then returned it unchanged upon the master's return. This last is treated quite harshly by the master in the parable.
We all have gifts, some innate some learned. These gifts, these talents if you will, cannot be left untouched, unused. That is a great waste. Many of our churches have endowments that have been gifts. These too must be put to use: those endowments themselves being talents, being gifts. To insist on keeping the status quo out of fear of change, or loss, is not to be good stewards of the talents we have been gifted. In fact, those talents when they are unused get frittered away over time and become worthless because we don't go for it, go for the gold. We cannot sit and be melancholy about a past time, afraid to step into the future. Gifts, talents, resources must be used to further the kingdom's presence among us. Going for it is what this parable instructs us to do, as scary as the prospect of stepping out into the unknown is to all of us.
We can plan for what is to come, but we don't really know what it will look like or be until we live into it. With God's help we will be able to at least double a lifetime's amount of gifts.
Copyright 2008. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.