14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15To one he gave five talents,to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30
Today I am restless. We have been sitting up here on the Mount of Olives for several days and I am ready to move on. I am ready for Jesus to move on. To move on to a new place. To move on to a new topic. I pace in the shade of a tree and stare out over the busy bustling streets of Jerusalem below.
Of course, this parable is the one. The one that includes the words I yearn to hear: Well done, good and faithful servant. That is the part I know best, but I am equally familiar with the words that describe the Master’s reward: You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.
I have used these words to motivate myself past fear in the past, especially when I am using my gifts. The gifts I believe were given to me by God. I have sought to honor the Creator with my gifts and my talents in the smallest ways so that he will provide me greater opportunities. Because I truly believe that these gifts that were given me are best used in service to Jesus.
To bring him glory. To bring him honor. To point people to him.
This has not always been easy for me. Especially as one who is drawn to the spotlight, who wants to be the center of attention, who inserts herself into the stories of others without much hesitation or invites others into her story without thinking twice.
But these are not the ideas I contemplate today. Today I am struck by the other words the Master in the parable says. Today, as I stand here in the heat of the Jerusalem sun, I consider the parable’s promise: Enter into the joy of your Master.
Certainly, this beats the alternative. This beats being cast into the outer darkness. This beats being thrown out into the place where there is only weeping and gnashing of teeth. Because isn’t there enough of that right here? Don’t we see too much of that, don’t we do too much of that right now, in the here and now?
Don’t I do that too much in the here and now?
Too much fretting. Too much complaining. Too much wailing and gnashing my teeth. Too much me, me, me. Too much what’s in it for me? Too much what about me? Too much what will I gain if I do this or that?
I look over at Jesus sitting among his inner circle of disciples – Peter, James, John, Andrew.
In between these parables and warnings, mixed in among all this serious conversation, Jesus and his disciples talk and laugh. Their joy fills the stifling sweltering air and their easy comfortable manner reveals the strong, intimate friendship these men share.
Despite moments of wanting to know which of them is Jesus’ favorite, these men are the epitome of selflessness and service. Walking with the Savior through his ministry, witnessing miracles, performing miracles of their own. And always, always, they put the focus on Jesus. They turn their focus on Jesus.
These disciples have indeed entered into the joy of their Master. They will suffer greatly and soon. Jesus has warned them of that. But right now, even as they discuss the serious events that are coming, they are wrapped in the joy of the Savior.
I come back to the idea of the talents. The way the first and second servants went out immediately and with reckless abandon. How they doubled what they received originally. The way they acted out of their relationship to the Master. How they acted out having been entrusted with something important. Something valuable.
The third servant, he acted out of his fear and doubt. He acted out of his assumptions of cruelty and harshness. His actions do not demonstrate any sense of being entrusted with anything, but being burdened with something. Something for which he does not want to be responsible.
The disciples’ laughter ripples in waves, reaching me where I stand. Peter lays back on the ground looking up at the sky, the easy smile lingering on his face. He is the picture of contentment. Of joy. He would easily be the first servant. Impetuous Peter.
I wander back over to the group and flop down in between Jesus and Peter. I have identified with Peter for a good portion of my life. The first to jump up and proclaim Jesus and shout out my love for him and the first to deny him and betray him. But I have learned the art of joy and contentment from watching Peter with Jesus.
I have learned how to take what has been entrusted to me and share it with reckless abandon. To use it to bring glory to Jesus. To use it to point others to Jesus. I have learned how to let Jesus’ love for me trump the lie of fear. I have learned how to sit beside Jesus, like now, knowing that because I love him I may know suffering or strife or heartbreak but that even so I have entered into his joy.
No more will I cast myself cast into the darkness alone or will I feel abandoned in the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I am wrapped in the joy, the grace, the love, the hope of Jesus.
I have entered into the joy of my Master. I am living my life for him. I am sharing his love and his hope through the gifts, the talents, with which he entrusted me.
And that makes life worth living. That makes all the difference. In the here and now and in the Kingdom of God.
If you are not willing to live your life for something greater than yourself, well, then life is not really worth living. Ruth Bell Graham