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The Parable of the Talents

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Proverbs 31:10–13, 19–20, 30–31 • Psalm 127(128):1–5 • 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6 • Matthew 25:14–30

 
Three hands with talents
 
In the ancient world a talent wasn’t a coin but a unit of weight of about 80 lb or 36 kg. However, when used as a currency its weight was not assessed in gold but in silver, and one talent was worth something in the region of 6000 denarii. Since in the Middle East in the first century one denarius was a day’s pay for a labourer, 6000 denarii divided by 365 (the number of days in a year) would have been a little less than 16 ½  years’ pay. So the servant with 5 talents was given something in the region of £2 million – the amount of money we are dealing with here is colossal and definitely life-changing. Imagine how Jesus’s first hearers must have smiled when they heard this parable, rather as we do when, for a bit of fun, we imagine what we would do if we won the lottery.

One of the interesting things about the parable, and sometimes overlooked, is that back then, believe it or not, the notion of making loads of money wasn’t as lauded and applauded as it is today. People traded to survive, not to make a killing, and business (in the way we understand it today) was viewed in much the same light as prostitution and exploitation.  Nevertheless, the Jews were known as shrewd business people and canny investors.

Now clearly the parable isn’t simply about the benefits of making a return on an investment versus burying your capital and not even making any interest. Nor is it simply about using our God-given natural talents to bless our friends and neighbours, for example – there is no reward (return) in that (Matt. 5:46). No, the talents or gifts are primarily spiritual gifts: the charisms, graces, blessings and fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are worth far more than gold (1 Pet. 1:7). We are eagerly (yes, eagerly) to desire the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1).  We are not to be ignorant about the spiritual gifts (like the servant who buried his talent). There are different kinds of gift (talents) given by the Spirit: the message of wisdom or knowledge, the gift of healing, miraculous powers, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues and the interpretation 0f tongues (1 (Cor. 12:1–11).

 Lord, thank you for the gifts of your Spirit.  Help us to use our gifts for the building up of the Church to the glory of God.

Chris 

From Bible Alive

 

 

 

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