The Parable of the Talents: The Faithful Servants

Here are some notes on the 2 Faithful Servants described in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14 onwards. Other aspects of the parable will be discussed in later articles.

These notes were made following a group discussion that I led on the topic of the Parable of the Talents + additional material that I gleaned from the internet. Thanks to all who contributed. I appologiese any errors and omissions. I have held over some material from this discussion until later articles. In the mean time, any comments (positive or negative) are most welcome.

Throughout this article:

2TS = Servant who received 2 Talents.

5TS = Servant who received 5 Talents.

What is their story?

The story of these two faithful Servants is similar, so we’ll consider them together.

1. They receive Talents from the Master
2. While the Master was away, they invested the Talents
3. As a result, they double the number of Talents that they have
4. They receive a reward from the Master on his return.

What are the servants given? What are Talents?

A Talent is actually a unit of weight. When used as a measure of money, it refers to a talent-weight of gold or of silver. It is unknown exactly what the monetary value this represents, but the important point is that this is a very large sum of money (so says Wikipedia, so we know it must be true).

What do these Talents symbolise?

There are different views:

  • The gospel
  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • Natural abilities
  • Our material possessions
Some sources (on the Internet) insist that the parable is only about one or other of these. However, the principles appear to apply to anything that God had given to us.

 “Every good gift… comes from heaven” James 1:17 GNB

What are Your Talents?

Excercise 

Make a list of your Talents, big and small.

Interestingly, in a group where I asked about people’s talents, the initial reaction of some members was that they have no particular abilities or talents. However, even the things we often take for granted are important. Consider basic human attributes that most of us (perhaps not all) possess:

  •  Body = ability to do things
  •  Brain = ability to think
  •  Hearing = ability to listen
  •  Mouth = ability to speak

We may be a 2TS rather than a 5TS, but we all have Talents.

Highlight your main Talents in the list.

Are all Talents good?

Example: The ability to criticize is not – but this can be transformed into the ability to encourage.

Has our master left us alone (as he did with these servants)?

No. We have the Holy Spirit to help us.

What are the similarities between 2TS and 5TS?

  • They both take on responsibilities.
  • They are both faithful.

What are the differences?

  • They have different abilities.
  • They are given different starting points.
  • The gifts that they are given have different values.
  • Their potentials are different.

Why Two Faithful Servants?

The 1TS could look at the others and say, “They have more than me – I have been set up to fail”. But the 2TS can look at 5TS and give the same argument. However, he does not do so – he is just faithful. By including both faithful servants in the story, Jesus shows that we cannot excuse ourselves by pointing to the differences between others and ourselves.

Exercise

Make a list of the people with whom you compare yourself, and how.

  • Does this impact what you do with your own Talents?
  • Is this a good thing?
  • What can you do about it?

What Did the Servants do with the Talents?

We don’t know exactly. We know they invested them.

Did the Master tell them to Invest?

The Bible does not say so.

So, how did they know what to do?

Did they know because they knew the Master?

Exercise

Look through the list of Talents you made earlier.

  • Do you actually invest them?
  • Could you invest them more effectively?
  • Do you need help from others to develop your talents?

Exercise

Consider your Main Talents. Set SMART goals for you development and investment of these Talents.

Did they work for themselves or the Master?

They worked on behalf of the master. But they benefited, too.

What were their Rewards?

  • Praise
  • Greater Responsibility
  • Joy

What else did they gain?

  • Continuing to work for the Master (fellowship?)
  • Abundance
  • Increased influence
  • Greater opportunity to do more of the Master’s business

What was the praise for?

The Master does not praise them for their productivity, but their faithfulness.

Exercise

Consider your responsibilities.

Make a list of the key people (or groups of people) in your life. List your main responsibilities to each of them.

  • Are you meeting your responsibilities?
  • Do these responsibilities play to your strengths? Do they fit in with your Main Talents?
  • Do you want more responsibility?
  • Could you take on more?
  • Can you shed some of the responsibilities that do not fit in with your Main Talents to focus on your strengths?

Did the Servants keep the talents?

It looks like it. In fact, they keep both the original talents and the ones that they made.

How do we develop our talents?

By investing / using them.

What’s Next?

In future articles I intend to discuss the other characters in the story.

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One Response to The Parable of the Talents: The Faithful Servants

  1. hystar says:

    I just completed a study on the parable of the talents. I found out that there is no symbolic meaning to the word talent. A talent is always used in the Bible as a literal term meaning either money or a measure of weight. The key word is not talent in the parable but the word ability. See the whole study at
    http://hystar.wordpress.com/2008/09/16/parable-of-the-talents-matthew-25/

    let me know what you think.

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