A False Believer

Matthew 25:28-30 - Take... 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 abundance: 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.

  • Jesus revealed that true believers and false believers would become members of most churches.  Every church has tares that are indistinguishable from the wheat.  Their true character cannot be known by what they do, because unbelievers can be very active in churches and seemingly interested in its work.  But, as far as the Lord is concerned the work they do is not in His service or for His kingdom.  In fact, there will be no acceptable service for God except that offered by true believers.
  • Those who demonstrate by their spiritual fruitfulness that they belong to God will be given even greater opportunity to serve Him.  But those who reveal by their unproductiveness that they do not belong to God will lose everything.  The bottom line is that those who trust in Christ will gain everything, and those who do not trust in Him will lose everything.
  • The third servant was not just unfaithful, but faithless.  A true Christian who wastes his abilities, spiritual gifts, and opportunities will have his work burned up, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.  But the person this servant represents has no faith at all and no saving relationship with God.  No matter how much he may appear to have been blessed by God and to have served Him, one day he will hear the Lord say, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The Lazy Servant

Matthew 25:25-27 - ...I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou has 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: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

  • This servant proved his wickedness by ridiculing the character of his lord.  He also revealed his laziness by doing nothing with the talent with which he had been blessed.  Repeating the charges against him, does not mean that they were true.  His lord basically said, “If you really believed I was such a hard man, then why didn’t you take my talent and put it in the bank, where I could at least draw interest?”
  • The Roman Empire’s banking system was similar to the banking system of today.  The maximum loan rate was 12% simple interest, while the interest earned by depositors was around half that rate.  The servant with the one talent could have reaped at least a 6% return through no effort at all.  The fact that he did not attempt even to earn simple interest on the money confirmed his total irresponsibility and his indifference to his lord.
  • Even if the servant’s accusation against his lord had been valid, it would not have excused his indolence.  If anything, it would have made it more foolhardy.  The truth of the matter was that the servant had no real concern for his lord.  He did not expect his lord to return and did not expect to be held accountable.  His life was empty, useless, and worthless, because he had no faith in his lord.

Blaming God

Matthew 25:25-27 - ...I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou has 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: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

  • There are many professing Christians who are averse to judging themselves by the standard of the inerrant Word of God, but are more than willing to judge God based on their own personal perceptions.  They blame God for their problems in order to justify themselves.  Finding excuses is easy if that’s what you want.
  • His mistaken opinion of his lord’s character proved that his knowledge about his lord was insufficient and unreliable.  He was like the professing Christian who bears no spiritual fruit and is blind to the Lord’s grace, kindness, compassion, mercy, honor, majesty, and glory, because he has never surrendered himself to the Lord’s sovereignty and grace.
  • Everything about that man contradicted his professed commitment to his lord.  He had no reverential awe, but was filled with irreverent contempt.  As his own words testified, he resented and despised his lord and had no love, or respect for him.  His relationship to his lord was one of enmity rather than peace, of hatred rather than love, of rejection rather than faith.
  • This servant represents a professed Christian whose view of God is corrupt because his unredeemed heart is corrupt.  He views God through the lens of his own depraved convictions.  He was willing to blamed God for doing nothing for God.

The Resentful Servant

Matthew 25:24 - 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 now strawed:  

  • Although the third servant produced no profits, he had plenty of accusatory excuses.  As Adam excused his sin by blaming God for creating Eve, this man blamed his lord for not doing his job.  He had pretended to be a true servant just like the others, but in two ways he proved that he didn’t know his lord at all.
  • First of all, he produced absolutely nothing with the talent he had been given and did not even make an attempt to use it for his lord’s benefit and profit.  As already mentioned, this servant does not represent an atheist or even an agnostic.  Rather, there is no doubt that he at least pretended to honor his lord while he was gone.  He did not misuse his talent on immoral and selfish pursuits like the prodigal son.  He simply disregarded the stewardship he had been given.
  • In much the same way, unbelieving church members live among true believers.  They enjoy the honesty of others and the friendships they develop.  They may even enjoy some of the beneficial principles of God’s Word.  But in spite of their spiritual privilege, they make no positive response to the gospel and have no means by which they can produce spiritual fruit.
  • Second, he revealed that he was not a true servant by accusing his lord of being a hard man and disparaging his character.  He claimed his lord of being unmerciful and dishonest.  He represents the professing Christian whose limited knowledge of God leads him to assume that God is distant, undependable, uncaring, and unjust.

The Joy of the Lord

Matthew 25:22-23 - He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

  • Not only will believers be rewarded in heaven with still greater opportunity to serve, but they will be given joy beyond our finite understanding.  Not only will those in heaven be completely sinless and holy, but they will have the joy of the Lord, Himself.

Luke 19:15-19 ...when he was returned, ...he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.  And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.  And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.  And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities. 

  • It is difficult to imagine the bliss believers will feel when they fully understand that their sins have forever been abolished and their righteousness forever set.  The thought of providing this redemption caused Christ to endure the cross.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  • The second servant made the same report as the first, except he doubled two talents instead of five.  And his lord praised him for the same faithfulness as the first.

A Good and Faithful Servant

Matthew 25:22-23 - He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

  • One thing we know for sure about heaven is that it will not be boring.  Heavenly perfection is not always making a hole-in-one or hitting a home run.  Heaven is a place of increasingly greater, and joyous, service.  And the saints who will serve the most, and rejoice the most, will be those who most faithfully serve the Lord on earth.  Everybody in heaven will live forever and will be equally righteous.  Everyone will be equally perfect, because perfection has no degrees.  The differences will be opportunities and levels of service.  The saints in heaven will have different ranks of service, just as the angels do.  And the position of that service will be based on how faithfully they served on earth.
  • Heaven will not involve differing qualities of service, because everything in heaven is perfect.  Everything done for the Lord will be perfectly right and perfectly satisfying.  There will be no distinctions of superiority or inferiority, and there will be no envy, jealousy, or any other remnant of sinful human nature.  Whatever one’s rank, or responsibility, or opportunity, it will be God’s perfect will for that individual, and therefore, will be perfectly enjoyed.  In a way that is beyond our present comprehension, saints will be equal in their joy, even if they are not equal in authority or responsibility.  Both, the man with five talents and the man with two, were given the same praise and the same joy.

Are You Faithful?

Matthew 25:20-21 - he that had five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

  • When the lord called his servants, the first one was able to report that he had done all his lord expected.  The lord in this parable is a type of the Lord Jesus when He returns to establish His kingdom.  So also, the servants in the parable depict Christ’s servants.  And just as the lord of the servant commended him, someday those who are ready for the appearance of the Lord will be praised for their faithfulness. 
  • The servant was not only praised, but also rewarded.  So also, the Lord Jesus will not only give greater earthly tasks to those who prove themselves faithful, but He will reward them with greater responsibilities throughout eternity.  Christ’s faithful servants living on earth when He returns will enter into the millennial kingdom in their same earthly bodies and will be given responsibilities proportionate to their previous faithfulness.  Also, the believers who have died, or been raptured, will come to earth with the Lord in their glorified bodies and will be given authority based on their faithfulness to God while they lived on earth.  Faithful believers in the millennial kingdom and in the eternal kingdom, will be given much greater responsibilities with much greater significance than insignificant things over which they previously were faithful.

Tried by Fire

Matthew 25:19 - After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

  • The span of time the lord was gone is not mentioned because it is irrelevant, except for the fact that it was a long time.  What is important is the implication that the lord returned unexpectedly, just as Jesus will.  And just as Jesus’ servants will give an report of their lives, so also the servants of this lord had to give an account of what they had done with his assets.
  • Since Jesus was referring to those who would be alive at the time of His return, He indirectly implied to His disciples that His second coming would not be as soon as they hoped.  Possibly not at the time, but they probably began to understand that this great event would not be during their lifetimes.  Whether He would be gone for a seemingly long or seemingly short time, they knew they were to be busy serving Him and were obligated to be about His work.
  • Not long ago, some believers became preoccupied with Christ’s return, which resulted in some of them quitting their jobs or selling their businesses.  Their lives were focused on watching for His appearance.  One man sold everything he had for half a million dollars, some of which he used to buy thousands of New Testaments to distribute around the world.  He also bought and distributed religious ornaments and trinkets hoping to arouse people’s interest in Christ.  But soon he was bankrupt, frustrated, and dispirited.

I Corinthians 3:13-15 Every man’s work shall be made manifest...  it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss...


Wasting A Life

Matthew 25:16-18 - 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.

  • The first two servants, the one with five talents and the one with two, reveal that they are faithful.  Their hard work and wise decisions make them an example of a genuine believer whose main desire is to serve and to please God.  They did not just make one investment and hope for a profit, but they traded what they had over and over until the landowner returned.  They may have invested in numerous business projects, some of them simultaneously.  The point, however, is not in the particular trades, but that they were faithful to take full advantage all the resources available.  Their hard work paid off by doubling the money they had been given.
  • The behavior of the third servant, however, was totally different.  He hid the money in the ground, which was a common practice in the ancient world, since there were no bank vaults or safe deposit boxes.  He hoped that it would be a sensible way to protect the talent.
  • But hiding a talent in the ground was hardly a sensible way to earn a profit.  His job was not to protect the talent, but to invest it.  Although he had been given fewer resources than the others, he had the same obligation to use what he had to his maximum ability.
  • Every Christian has been given certain talents, gifts, abilities, and desires.  They are to use them to glorify the Lord through a local New Testament church. Each Christian should desire to hear the Lord say some day, “Well, done thou good and faithful servant.”

Being A Faithful Servant

Matthew 25:14-15 - For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling 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.

  • The number of talents given to the servants has no significance in themselves, but does illustrate the wide range of responsibilities God gives us, from the very high and demanding to the relatively low and easy.  These talents, just like God-given responsibilities, were given to every man according to his several ability.  Each servant was only entrusted with the duties he could reasonably be expected to handle.
  • The three levels of responsibility that Jesus mentions are only a sample of many individual abilities.  Some people have studied the Bible since their youth, while many young believers have had little opportunity to study God’s Word.  All true believers are given spiritual gifts that vary widely from person to person.  While some work closely with other believers and receive continual encouragement, others feel alone, because there are no other Christians, even in their families.  God knows the abilities, opportunities, circumstances, and gifts of every believer, so He gives responsibilities accordingly.
  • The parable is about what each servant does with the responsibility he has been given.  A faithful servant would desire to be as profitable as possible.  And the lord’s desire was not equal return from each servant but relatively equal effort.