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A man is going on a journey so he summons his servants and entrusts his property to them. To one he gives five talents. To another two talents. And to another one talent.

Now,  this was not a story about an ordinary person. You see, “a talent” in Jesus’ day was about 30kgs of silver equal to about fifteen years of wages for a servant, it’s an enormous sum. So, to one servant, he gives seventy-five years’ worth of wages, to another thirty years’ worth of wages, and to another fifteen years’ worth of wages and then he takes off.

Now, people just don’t act like that. And that’s precisely the point. People don’t act like that. Even though people don’t act like that, God does. The God who created all things out of infinite generosity, out of an infinite love that overflowed into all of creation. This God pulls back from overpowering us and says, “Look after things for me.” An amesome, generous, and gracious God, who has given us riches beyond belief, if we would but have eyes to see.  

The question Jesus presses home in this parable is this: How do people respond to a gracious God? How do we respond to the generosity of God?

In the parable, the first servant, the one who received five talents, immediately went out and traded with what he had been given and he made five more talents. Notice, it says he went out “at once.”     He understands the gracious gift of God, and he responds. He doesn’t hold back what God has given him,  and when the master comes and sees how his servant has used his gifts, God pours out even more riches upon him, this time welcoming him into the eternal joy of his Master.  God says well done. There is now even more grace and mercy; enter now into everlasting joy.

This is the world the first servant lives in. The second as well. They both see and understand the graciousness of God and the abundance of love and mercy God has poured upon them. And in response, they both go and invest the grace they have been given by God in the world around them. The result is an overflowing of abundance and the promise of eternal joy.

The last servant, however, doesn’t get it. Like the other two, he receives an enormous windfall. But instead of seeing it as the gift of a gracious Lord, he becomes afraid. He has been given much, but he responds with fear. What should he do with so much money, such an abundance of riches? His idea is to go and dig a hole and bury the money. This is the action of a person who thinks  that God is out to get him.

This frightened, man has convinced himself that despite the generosity shown to him by God, that God is a hard Master, a punitive Master. Now there is no reason given in the story why he should think this. Rather, this servant has created God in his own image: a frightened, hard God. And the servant is so afraid of the false image of God he has created, that he fails to see everything God has given him. He cuts himself off from others. He digs a hole and buries what God has given him in the ground.  


When the master comes this man gets what he asks for. God tells him to take his little self and his little idea of God and go and lay down in the hole he has dug for himself.

Spiritual writers tell us that we become like the things we worship.   It’s a choice really. How are we going to respond to the extravagant riches God has poured out upon us, who poured out his very self for us? How do we see this God? Do we see the true God, a God of unlimited grace and mercy, forgiveness, and love? Or do we create an image of God based upon our own fear, a God that is hard and miserly and punishing? Are we going to respond to the grace and generosity of God by going out into the world and living graciously and generously? Or are we going to be governed by our fears, and cut ourselves off from everything that is true and good and beautiful in this world, dig our own graves, throw in our talents, and crawl in after them?



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