At that time the Kingdom of heaven will be like this. Once there was a man who was about to leave home on a trip; he called his servants and put them in charge of his property. He gave to each one according to his ability: to one he gave five thousand gold coins, to another he gave two thousand, and to another he gave one thousand. Then he left on his trip.
The servant who had received five thousand coins went at once and invested his money and earned another five thousand. In the same way the servant who had received two thousand coins earned another two thousand. But the servant who had received one thousand coins went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The servant who had received five thousand coins came in and handed over the other five thousand. ‘You gave me five thousand coins, sir,’ he said. ‘Look! Here are another five thousand that I have earned.’ ‘Well done, you good and faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts. Come on in and share my happiness!’
Then the servant who had been given two thousand coins came in and said, ‘You gave me two thousand coins, sir. Look! Here are another two thousand that I have earned.’ ‘Well done, you good and faithful servant!’ said his master. ‘You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts. Come on in and share my happiness!’
Then the servant who had received one thousand coins came in and said, ‘Sir, I know you are a hard man; you reap harvests where you did not plant, and you gather crops where you did not scatter seed. I was afraid, so I went off and hid your money in the ground. Look! Here is what belongs to you.’
‘You bad and lazy servant!’ his master said. ‘You knew, did you, that I reap harvests where I did not plant, and gather crops where I did not scatter seed? Well, then, you should have deposited my money in the bank, and I would have received it all back with interest when I returned. Now, take the money away from him and give it to the one who has ten thousand coins.
For to every person who has something, even more will be given, and he will have more than enough; but the person who has nothing, even the little that he has will be taken away from him. As for this useless servant—throw him outside in the darkness; there he will cry and gnash his teeth.’
[The disciples want to know when Jesus will return and the New Age will begin. Jesus replies, “No one knows the day or the hour.” This is one of several scriptures that further illustrates this statement. For more on the Second Coming see Day 150. For more on the Messiah see Day 145. For more on the End of the Age see Day 128.]
This treatment of this scripture in churches always cracks me up. The problem is that in other translations of the Bible, the “coins” are called by the name of the local currency or unit of measurement of the day – “talents.” Even though the word “talent” in this scripture has nothing to do with the common usage of the English world “talent”, the discussion usually nevertheless turns to our “gifts and talents.” Consequently it often to turn into a discussion of stewardship.
Sometimes it gets even weirder when it is interpreted as investment advice because the servant who hides his coins is punished. Don’t hide it under your mattress! Jesus says to put your money in the bank with a decent interest rate. Better yet, go wild! Take risks! Jesus doesn’t like safe investments! So what if it looks like a Ponzi scheme? Jesus says go for it. God will surely protect your money!! See, it says so right here. Shoot for the stars. Jesus likes people who know how to make money! The rich get richer and the poor get nothing. The Word of the Lord. Thanks Be to God!!
Ah….I don’t think so. Let’s see. Does Jesus value money? The answer to this is a resounding “No”. On Day 47 Jesus says that you can’t serve both God and money. On Day 170 he says that it’s hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So why would God reward people for shrewd financial skills? Well, he wouldn’t if we are talking about regular old human currency. No, we have to look at what God values. What is his currency? What is important to him?
I would say the answer is love. God loves us and gives us life. He wants us to reach out and give our love to others. He wants us to be fearless, to put ourselves out there and love sacrificially. He wants us to multiply the love that he has given us. Like it says in Jude 1:2 (KJV): “Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.” Yes, let mercy, peace, and love be multiplied!!
So in the parable, I would say that the man who gives out the coins is God (or Jesus?), the servants are the people of the earth, and the coins represent love.
So what about the guy who was punished? He was afraid. He was given the least love to start with. Perhaps he has been abused and that is why he says that God is “hard.” He makes judgments against God and calls him unfair. He has a negative view of life and he is afraid so he keeps his love to himself. And so the love that should have gone to him goes instead to the one who reached out and loved others the most. His downfall was his fear.
The parable says that if we have been given little, then we have to be especially careful not to let it harden us so that we become loveless. We have to be fearless and reach out even when we have been hurt. We have to love others, even if it’s scary and we would rather hide away. Maybe he’s worried about whether the disciples will turn away from love after he is killed. Maybe he’s worried that the troubles of the world will harden them and divert them from the mission of love that he has called them to.
God is counting on us to keep the love flowing. On Day 16 Jesus says, “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead it is put on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.”
We have to let our lights shine even if we are scared. Even when we think that people are bad and God is against us and we’ve been given a raw deal in life. We have to take the risk and love others, otherwise we will be all alone in this world. Cast out and feeling sorry for ourselves because we expect to receive something we aren’t willing to give. The words of the Beatles ring in my ears right now:
What does this scripture say to you?