“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.”
After the man received favorable reports from the first two servants, he received this report from the third.
“Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed…Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have adundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:14-30)
The above parable has been used to illustrate the importance of being prepared, or accountability, or even the value of hard work. But what has always intrigued me about this parable is that the servant who was given the least is the one who ends up being condemned by the master. It’s such an “opposite” example of all the other teachings of the Savior which uplift and exalt the poor, the meek, the humble and lowly. Why is the servant with the “one” talent the loser and not the servant who was given “the most”. It has always made me think, “What is it about the servant with “one” talent that makes him the “unprofitable” one?
So I have examined the three servants “abilities” and only one characteristic is mentioned about the “unprofitable” one. He was “afraid.” So I ask myself, why was he afraid and the other two weren’t? I don’t know the answer for sure, but I can make an educated guess. Perhaps the servant given one talent was afraid because he was given little and felt inferior to the others. Maybe he lacked confidence. Maybe he was envious of the other servants who were given more talents. Maybe he didn’t feel important so he felt ashamed and therefore he didn’t want to venture out into the big world for fear of losing it all. Why is it important to know? Well, for me, it is important to understand this parable because all of us are given different talents and abilities. If we happened to be one of those persons who has been given 5 talents; great! The Lord expects a lot out of us. And if we happen to be in the shoes of the servant who was given one, that’s also great. The “unprofitable” servant wasn’t condemned because he had only one talent. He was condemned because he “buried” it and didn’t use it to advance his master’s kingdom.
If we happen to “think” we are someone who was given less talents than others, we shouldn’t be afraid to use what we have been given to build up the kingdom. There is no need to let fear, or envy stop us from contributing to the cause. In the eyes of the Lord, the important part is that we contribute what we have been given.
Over the years I have known members of the church who have left a lasting impression on my life. One often made me soup when I serving in a priesthood assignment. One always greeted me at church with a smile though they suffered from serious painful heath issues. Another has consistently written me notes of encouragement and praise for years. Still another faithful shows up each Sunday in the pews, alone, year after year after year. Each has been a source of deep inspiration to me. These people may not see in themselves these “inspirational talents,” but they are as real, and have had as much impact on my life as others whose talents are more recognizable.
No matter the talents given, let us use them to further build the “Kingdom of God” here on earth and be profitable servants!