Connections 11.15.2020: Using Our Gifts

Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus’ parable about the talents inspires us to use our gifts from God to serve the Christian cause and help others. And that’s important. One of the glories of being part of God’s kingdom is noting the rich diversity of gifts each of us brings to the fellowship. We welcome these gifts because they further the Way of Christ. We cheer on the servants in the parable who make good use of the master’s money and enjoy a fruitful return.

But what about that one servant who buried the master’s money in the ground to keep it safe? We sneer at him, deriding him for his selfishness. The thing is, the parable doesn’t tell us what the master wanted these servants to do with the money. It simply says he gave the money to the servants, each a different value “according to his ability.” And what did the master do next? “Then he went away” (v. 15b).

What would be your instinct if someone entrusted you with something of great value to them and then went away? I know what mine would be: to protect it. I would hide it or at least put it somewhere safe and secure. I would watch over it to be sure it didn’t disappear or break or otherwise come to harm.

That’s what this servant did, I think. He was given something precious, and he kept it safe. I can’t blame him.

But as the parable unfolds, we know that the master gave these servants a different kind of gift. The anger the master expresses when he finds out the servant hid the money shows that his expectations were clear—even if the Scripture doesn’t spell it out. The servants were to use what the master gave them in a fruitful way. When one of them didn’t do this, he was banished “into the outer darkness,” that place of the dreaded “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 30)—which probably means he spent the rest of his days regretting his choice.

Does the punishment fit the crime? At first glance, no. But the severity of it serves a great purpose in the parable. The point here is that it’s outrageous not to use the gifts God gives us.

Why would we get the gift of compassion and keep it to ourselves? Why would we get the gift of listening and never sit with someone in their darkest moments, letting them share their story? Why would we get the gift of carpentry and not offer to help with building projects for people in need? Why would we get the gift of financial blessings and refuse to share that bounty? Why would we get the gift of preaching and teaching and stay silent? This list could keep going.

God has created a beautiful, diverse community of believers with valuable gifts. Let us use them to the glory of God! It’s outrageous not to.

Discussion

  • What is your instinct when someone entrusts you with something precious? How do you treat that gift?
  • What do you think the servant’s motives were in burying the money?
  • Why was his punishment so harsh?
  • What gifts has God given you? How have you hidden them away? How have you used them for God’s glory?
  • Why do you think it’s outrageous not to use the gifts God gives us? What is lost when we don’t use them? What is gained when we do?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, and her husband John. Occasionally, she appears onstage in community theater productions and can sometimes be found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel movies, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who, and she’s still trying to write a young adult novel that her girls will enjoy.

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