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Parable of Talents

We come to another of Jesus’ parables, this one is often called the Parable of the Talents. It begins when a master gives talents to three of his slaves. To the first he gives five talents. To the second two talents. And to the third one talent. Then, the master leaves for a time. And when he returns, he asks the slaves what they have done with the talents he gave to them. The first has invested his five and made five more. The second also invested his talents and made two more. But the third, buried the one talent he had been given, and so, when the master returned, had only that talent to give back.

The master calls this third servant wicked, lazy, and worthless.

I remember hearing this parable as a high school student and being told that the talents in this parable were the gifts God had given to us and it was our responsibility to use those gifts, to make a return on them. And if we used the gifts God had given us in acceptable and good ways, then God would smile on us. God would call us good and faithful. But if we didn’t use those gifts in an acceptable way then God would be angry with us, and maybe even take those gifts away.

Over the years, I generally accepted that interpretation.

But I’ve found myself wondering what such an interpretation tells us about God. About who God is and about how God acts in our lives and in the world.

Because, if God is like the master in this parable, then God becomes something of a taskmaster, someone who is constantly looking over our shoulder just waiting to see what we do with the gifts God has given us, maybe even ready to take those gifts away if don’t use them well enough.

If God is like the master, then my picture of God becomes something of a harsh, judgmental, and critical God.

And such a picture of God shapes the way I live my life. Because all of our pictures of God, no matter what they are, impact the way we live in the world.

Author Trevor Hudson writes, “There is a picture of God drawn inside each of our hearts and minds. This picture, formed over the years through various influences, significantly shapes the way we live our daily lives. As we reflect on our ideas about God, we are invited to enter a redrawing process in which we gain a clearer view of who God truly is.”

Returning to this parable, maybe the master isn’t God after all. And so, maybe we have to rethink its interpretation entirely.

Join us on Sunday as we wrestle and explore together!

Grace and peace,


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