Matthew 25:19-23

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ Matthew 25:19-23

As I shared yesterday, we use the word “talent” today to refer to something that a person is good at, something they are gifted at doing. In Jesus’ day, it was a unit of measurement. A talent of gold today would be worth more than $1 million. Consider that and you will realize the cartoonish character of this parable. Cartoonish not in terms of funny or silly, but more in the way of a political cartoon – biting.

Imagine hearing this story from Jesus’ own mouth. Instead of doing what we do as we read them from the Bible – we immediately, without conscious thought, spiritualize them so that the master is “God” and the slaves are “us” – the first hearers might have heard them at face value. They would have realized that the master was crazy.

No master in their right mind would leave that kind of money with his slaves and then disappear for a long time, at least long enough to allow them to double his money. If not crazy, then the master must have been incredibly trusting, and the slaves trustworthy. Imagine that. There lies the bite.

While we might like to live in a world like that, we know that isn’t how life normally works.

Another way to hear this story, rather than a business transaction, is to hear it as an argument from the lessor to the greater, as a test of the trustworthiness of the slaves. If they prove faithful in some measure, they will gain greater responsibilities.

Once again, even here, the master is taking a huge risk. They might fail. He might lose everything.

So, in the end, is this a story about the master or a story about the slaves? Call it a test or call it a deal, the master remains a crazy risk-taker. Have you ever imagined God as a crazy risk-taker?

Do you trust that God knows what God is doing in creating you, gifting you, deploying you in the world as an agent of God’s love? Use well your gifts, good and trustworthy servant.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, while our shortcomings and limitations might never be far from our minds, the scariest parts of us are our possibilities and capabilities, all gifts from you. We love because you first loved us. Love is crazy. Love takes risks. Love means letting go. When we love others, what we give away is doubled. May we love today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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