Matthew 25:16-18 (Merchants of the Kingdom; Those Who Bury Their Talents)

In the parable of the talents Jesus likens His kingdom to a man who entrusted to His slaves huge amounts of his treasure to further his interests in the world before departing and leaving them to their task.  After his quick departure two of his servants immediately went to work gaining an amount equal to what they had been entrusted.  What has Christ given to us that we are able to gain more of?  In what various ways are Christians able to gain more lives for Christ’s kingdom with the talents of their own lives?  See Mat 18:15, 1Co 9:19-22, and 1Pe 3:1 where the Greek word for gain in Mat 25:16 is translated in the sense of winning lost souls; cf. Mat 28:18-20.  How are they able to enlarge the portion of His kingdom entrusted to them beyond its present borders?  Cf. John 14:12.  In what way are they able to expand the riches of Christ’s wisdom, knowledge and truth first entrusted to them?  Think: in what way did the apostle Paul expand the truths of the gospel as they applied to the Gentile peoples, which although present in the gospel in germinal form, were not directly taught by Christ?  In what way have Christians throughout history applied Christian principles to expand the breadth of Christ’s wisdom and knowledge and truth as it applies to every area of life and the pursuits of mankind?

Consider that in the world, a merchant leverages his capital by trading things that are of lesser value (at least to him) in order to obtain things that are or will become of greater value; what must one trade of lesser value for that which is of greater value in order to become a servant of Christ, and how does that also make him fit for the merchant class that will further his master’s interests?  Cf. Mat 13:44-45, 16:24-26, Rom 12:2, 1Jo 2:15.  Consider that merchants commonly use their capital to obtain something from one vendor or in one location and then add value to it by repackaging the product, combining it with other items, or transporting it to other areas so the items can be sold at a profit and thus benefit both himself and others in need of the product; how is that like Christ’s servants who devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word in order to understand gospel truths and the best ways to communicate them, and then make those truths available to others who have never heard them or thought about their implications?  In what way do those who share the spiritual treasures of Christ’s kingdom with others enrich themselves by doing so?  When we do trade with the truth entrusted to us, are we poorer because we no longer have it, or richer still because others are also enriched, which then enriches us all the more as they use their own gifts to add even more value to it?  In what way are people blessed materially when their economies follow these same principles?  Cf. Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations, and consider that these are the gospel principles upon which American capitalism was built.  Again, how do these things help us to understand the way in which we as Christians are able to gain more of what has been entrusted to us for the profit of Christ’s kingdom?

Was it expected that the slave who had received just one talent would gain as much as those who had been entrusted with more?  Cf. Luk 12:48b.  Was the master necessarily even expecting a 100% return as his other servants were able to obtain?  Cf. Mat 25:27.  Nevertheless, what does Jesus say in the parable that the servant who had received the one talent did upon the master’s departure?  See Mat 25:18.  Why did he do so?  See Mat 25:24-25.  How was the attitude toward the master that motivated this slave different from that of the other slaves who immediately put their talents to work to further his interests?  Was he grateful to his master for having redeemed him from the empty vanities of the world, and for entrusting to him a great deposit with great freedom to manage it in order that he might accomplish great things so as to find purpose and meaning in life?  Like the other slaves, was he happy to further his master’s interests in the world simply because he was so great to work for—unlike the taskmasters of the world?  Like the second slave, in spite of having not received as much as the first slave, was he still willing to serve the master without envy with the “measly” talent that had been given to him that was worth “only” 15-20 years’ wages?  Like the other slaves, did he consider this master to be gracious and generous, so that he was happy to obey him, or did he consider the parameters he had given for the use of the talents to be burdensome and too restrictive?  See again Mat 25:24 and contrast 1Jo 5:3.  Consider those who misunderstand the nature of God’s grace, who suppose that since they are saved by grace through faith and not as a result of works, that works don’t matter, and who as a consequence go about their lives in the world with no real fruit for God’s kingdom other than their belief that they are saved because they once said a sinner’s prayer; how are they like the man who buried his talent in the ground?  Cf. Eph 2:8-10, Tit 2:11-14, Jam 2:14-19.

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