Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

The Parable of the Talents: Part One

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Time passes at breakneck speed once a person reaches fifty. I’m putting away the Christmas decorations once again and I just cannot fathom that it could have possibly been 365 days since I last completed this ritual. It’s just a potent reminder that my life is zooming by and if there is anything that simply must be done, I’d better get at it.

Thus, for the next couple of installments, I hope it will be profitable for us to look at Jesus’ story about the talents. It’s a really good reminder every time I study that He is coming back and there will be an accounting of the use I’ve made of His time, His goods and the life He has given me on this earth. The accounting will seal my eternal destiny.

This study matters. I hope you can take the time for it. Remember, too, if you are in the Digging Deep study, there are a few bonus days to complete the December study before the podcast, slated for January 3rd. I’ve got to get busy on that…

…On to the story Jesus told:

Since I was a child I’ve marveled at the way the word “talent” has so aptly changed meanings. It’s almost as if the Matthew 25 story is shouting at us today through the very evolution of the meaning of the word talent that the teaching of the parable involves more than money. A talent, in ancient times, was a unit of weight and money. Of course, today a talent is an inherent ability to excel at something. The teaching of the story Jesus told was literally about money, but the application encompasses our natural abilities. How appropriate that our modern use of the word calls to mind our individual gifts, abilities and potentials to His glory. Let’s think about some specific lessons from Matthew twenty-five about our talents as women of God in this amazing age in which we live.

The parable is sandwiched between two powerful reminders that the Judgment Day is coming.

Notice that the story begins in verse fourteen with the word “for”. This preposition necessarily ties the story to the previous verse:

Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods (Mt.25:13-14)

Likewise, the verse immediately following the parable(v.31) describes that last great day.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.

Of what significance is it that the story of the talents is surrounded by admonitions about preparation for the end of time? What does the use of time and talents have to do with the last day? I can ask a few rhetorical questions about time management and quickly see the correlation.

Why am I sitting at the computer right now hammering away at this manuscript? Does it have anything to do with the fact that today is June 25th and this manuscript is due to the printer on July 1st? What does the fact that I am having company for dinner on a given night have to do with how much time I spend on housework and cooking on that particular day? What does the upcoming due date in my daughter’s English composition class have to do with whether she is writing a research paper or playing at the mall?

The point is obvious and understated. Deadlines have everything to do with productivity. God has given us the ultimate deadline. There is a quickly approaching line—an actual moment– between time and eternity. I will cross this line at the point of my death; thus it is a deadline in the literal sense of the word. But God also reminds us here in Matthew twenty-five that a generation of people who expect to die, will not. I cannot wrap my mind around what it would be like if Cindy Colley was going about her business on that last great day. What if I was actually shopping in Wal-Mart or fixing supper for my family when I was interrupted by a trumpet so loud that everyone on earth was startled to attention? What if I was awakened in the middle of the night by that piercing shout of the archangel signaling the end of life on earth? Or what if I heard the unfamiliar noises while driving to town and looking beyond the traffic going over the mountain I saw my Lord and His holy host coming in the clouds? But it is reality. I could be one of those who gets to witness the dead going to meet Him and, while I marvel at the unprecedented mass resurrection, I could find myself caught away with them and on my way to meet Him in the air. In fact, if you have obeyed the gospel, you have “obeyed” its facts: the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is the resurrection that assures us that the lord of the servants is coming back from his journey. He will come to take a talent inventory. Every time the resurrection of Christ and of his followers is discussed at any length in your New Testament, the discussion is concluded with a practical exhortation to those who are looking for the return. If we are expectant watchers, we will be excited workers. Let’s notice some of these injunctions to those who are expecting the return:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor.15:58).

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (II Peter3:11.12).

Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober (I Thes. 5:6).

See, sometimes I think we fail to live in expectation of the miraculous events of the last day. Perhaps this is because we’ve come to correctly understand that the miracles of the days of Christ and the apostles have ceased. Perhaps it is because we have come to view the supernatural as merely fodder for some sort of sci-fi entertainment. Most likely, we are in the category of people described by the Holy Spirit in II Peter 3:3-10. We have come to think that “all things continue as they were from the beginning,” just like the people in Noah’s day were thinking. The big word for this mistaken idea is uniformitarianism, but it just means that we form all of our judgments about the events of the past and the future based on what we observe today. (If it’s not happening today, then it never happened and it never will happen.) We get stuck in the present, forgetting the conclusion of the powerful text at hand:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

It is very important that we remember that upon the death of the last person upon whom an apostle had laid hands, God suspended his miraculous work on earth. But actually He was only pushing the pause button; not the stop button. The unfulfilled prophecies of the last day most certainly involve the supernatural. Keeping the events of this deadline firmly in our daily consciousness…”watching” as Matthew 25:13 enjoins…keeps us aware of the temporal nature of our lives and the limited scope of time and space afforded to invest our talents for His glory. It is this watchfulness that keeps us keenly aware that the “kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling into a far country.” More importantly, we watch because we understand that “after a long time, the lord of those servants cometh and reckoneth with them.” Watching with expectation is essential to maximizing our potential in the kingdom.

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