The Parable of the Talents: The Faithful Servants

January 18, 2008

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.


Driving a Hard Bargain?

September 25, 2007

My wife and I made an offer on a house this week. The question we faced: how much to offer?

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Worried about Credit Card Spending? Freeze Your Card!

June 15, 2007

Yesterday evening, I was talking with friends about money. Dan was kind enough to give me a tip that he used to avoid credit card debt when he was a student: when he didn’t want to use his credit card, he used to freeze it.

You know those plastic containers that Chinese Takeaways come in? He used to put his card in one of those, fill it with water, and put it in the freezer!

Whenevre he was tempted to use the card, he had to go to all the trouble of thawing it out. Unless he really felt that the spend was legitimate, the bother was just not worth it.


Life Changing Books: The Money Diet by Martin Lewis

June 7, 2007

money-diet.jpgBack in April I started reading Martin Lewis’ book about personal finances: “The Money Diet“. The is aimed at helping ordinary people manage their finances more effectively: it is essentially about the ways in which ordinary people can save money. A lot of the advice in this book is geared towards saving money without sacrificing lifestyle, although there is plenty of advice for those who need to make more radical changes.

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Money Saving Success

May 15, 2007

coins-4.jpgOne of my goals at the moment is to cut my spending without significantly downgrading my lifestyle. I will try to keep this page updated with my success stories.

Annual Savings

£85 (approx) switching to a cheaper breakdown service, AutoAid (Feb 2008).

£120 (£10 / month) approx interest on current account following switch (Aug 2007).

£3412.98 as a result of a job-change (July 2007).

£93 cancelled direct debits for unused services (April 2007).

One-Off Savings

£30 cheque for keeping M:Metrics market research software on my Smartphone (Feb 2008).

£38 on a smart-casual jacket, M&S January sale (January 2008).

£27.49 on jacket, EWM January sale (January 2008).

£10 total discount on 4 turtle-neck shirts, BOGOHP in EWM January sale (January 2008).

£22 on trowsers, M&S January sale (January 2008).

£0.50 on “grommit” shortbread, by buying a broken biscuit rather than a perfect one (January 2008).

£15 postal order for installing M:Metrics market research software on my Smartphone (October 2007).

£2.75 on fuel at Tesco by using a voucher (October 2007).

£30 bank changes avoided by promptly repaying money into old current account when I accidentally overdrew (September 2007).

£50 cash for changing current accounts (September 2007).

£10 compensation from Alliance and Leicester when they failed to transfer my direct debits to my new current account (July 2007).

£4.25 refund on a meal (June 2007).

£12.40 (20%) off a Littlewoods Direct order: Using a voucher (June 2007). [Edit: the voucher was not honoured by Littlewoods]

£367.86 Endowment mis-selling compensation from Prudential (May 2007).

£162 MEAF reclaim against Abbey (May 2007).

Other Benefits

Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition worth about £200 (April 2008): Free gift at Microsoft product launch event.

Free Thorntons Easter Egg: Promotional Offer (March 2008).

Free small bag jelly beans (Yum, yum!): Promotional offer (Feb 2008)

One free banana (Yum!) : Fairtrade promotional stand (Feb 2008)

Signed up for Quidco (December 2007).

12 free pots of playdough: special offer at ToysRUs (December 2007)

A free Pentel marker : For filling in a freepost enquiry form for a service I’ll never use (July 2007)

A free Financial Review : Offered by our bank, Alliance & Leicester, when we opened a current account. There was a sales pitch, but it was low-key and easily dodged. The adverser was genuinely helpful (June 2007)

Free Braodband : Switching from BT to TalkTalk gives us free broadband for the same monthly spend (May 2007)

Free Sausage and Bean Bake (Yum, Yum!) : Voucher in local paper (May 2007)

Free Wireless ADSL Modem: Asked my Father if I could have the one he was not using. (May 2007).

Borrowed The Money Diet from the library (April 2007).

Started tracking spending in Microsoft Money (March 2007).

Set up a free WordPress blog (Feb 2007).


Check Your Direct Debits Today

April 20, 2007

If you had asked me a month ago if I was paying for anything by direct debit that I did not need, I would have sworn that I had everything under control. I was wrong.

Today, I discovered that I have been paying £45 / year for a Breakdown Insurance (extended warranty) on an Audio System. Generally, I see these extended warranties as a waste of money. In this case, I could buy a whole new hifi every few years rather than keep paying this insurance. My error here was that I had made the mistake of binning the renewal notices whenever they came through the post. It turns out they atomically renew unless you cancel. There is no point in worrying about past mistakes. I have phoned the insurance company to cancel. I have also cancelled the direct debit with my bank. That’s £45 / year saved.

The other week I discovered that I was paying some £7.75 a month subscription to an internet service that I was not using any more. I had originally signed up for a free trial, as I actually needed the service for a few weeks. I am convinced that I cancelled before the trial period ended. When I discovered the error I contacted the company immediately. They say that they had no record of my cancellation. Of course, I can prove nothing. My mistake here was not checking that the direct debit was cancelled. I have now both cancelled the service and the direct debit. That’s another £93 / year saved.

What is the moral of this tale? Check your direct debits. Check them now. Check them regularly.

Your comments are welcome.


A Buy-to-Let Investment Scheme

April 16, 2007

house.jpgMy wife asked me to find a way for us to move into a more expensive house, but without increasing our repayments. I came up with a scheme that could possibly achieve this for some people. I have explained the principles below. I have also written about the risks, and the reasons that we are not seriously considering this strategy at the moment.

[Image from: Royalty free photos.]

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