In the Parable of the Talents Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who entrusted to his slaves great quantities of his wealth to further his interests in the world, and then went away. Just moments earlier in His discourse on the Mount of Olives He had summarized the signs requested by His disciples that would precede His coming in judgment upon the apostate nation of the Jews, warning that they must “be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Mat 24:42). Now in a series of parables He is emphasizing how important it is that they keep watch, lest they too be swept away in the coming destruction. In the present parable, as in the parable of the faithful and unfaithful slaves (Mat 24:45-51), He is explaining what that means for them practically in their day-to-day activities. In this parable, two of the servants immediately put their talents to work gaining for their Master’s kingdom an amount equal to what had been entrusted to them. But another who had been entrusted with less than the others—but with what was still a great sum—buried it in the ground and did nothing with it, for which Jesus in the parable holds the servant accountable and calls him wicked, lazy and worthless (Mat 25:26,30). If then those who have the least are culpable for doing nothing with what has been entrusted to them, how much more must they be who are entrusted with the most and do nothing with it? In what way have American Christians been entrusted with more than other servants of Christ’s kingdom, not just among those in the world today, but among all the saints who have ever lived? Are we using the talents of freedom and prosperity that we have received for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom, or are we burying them, having fallen asleep so we are no longer awake and alert to the demands of the gospel, so that our lamps have gone dry, with no oil to light them? If God looks with disfavor upon those do nothing with the least of His possessions, how much more must He disdain those who do nothing with the most? Cf. Heb 2:1-3.
Was it the case that the third servant squandered or misspent what his master had entrusted to him, or even embezzled some of the treasure that was in his care? What does this remind us about the way that we as God’s servants can mismanage what He has given us, not only by negative abuse, but also by a lack of positive use? While a person should surely be ashamed to come to the end of his life bearing the ignoble label of a thief or other miscreant, ought he not also to be ashamed to die without having done something positive for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom? Shame or no shame, what does Scripture indicate will be the consequences to both? See 1Co 6:9-10, Mat 25:30. Does that mean that as Christians we must live in fear that in the final judgment we may not be saved, always wondering if we have “done enough”? See Mat 11:28-30, Eph 2:8-9.
As different trees bear different types of fruit for different purposes according to the needs and desires of the planter, and even similar varieties bear different amounts of fruit at different times with different qualities, do we need to be concerned at all that our fruit is different from others, or suppose that others are doing more for God’s kingdom because they seem to have more fruit at a particular time? What is the main thing we need to be concerned about? See Joh 15:4-5. In addition to abiding in Christ, should one be concerned if he is bearing no fruit? See Joh 15:1-2, Jam 2:17-19. Hence, although one is not saved by good works, he is saved to good works, and so if there is no evidence that the fruit of Christ’s righteousness is being borne in his life, neither is there evidence that one has truly been born again of the seed of His truth; cf. Eph 2:10, 1Jo 5:13, and “these things” John wrote in order that we may know that we have eternal life: 1Jo 2:3-6,15-17,29, 3:7-10,13-14,18-19, 4:20, 5:2-3. See also 2Pe 1:3-11.