The Parable of the Talents
David Brandt Berg
The Lord can be a pretty tough taskmaster sometimes, as in the case of the man who buried his one talent and lost it, and those that made more talents with more talents and had more to end with. (See the parable of the talents: Matthew 25:14–29.) He said, “To everyone 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” (Matthew 25:29).
God goes very strongly on the merit system as to who deserves it and who doesn’t, not necessarily according to need. That’s one place where the Lord differs a bit from the old adage of “from each according to his ability unto each according to his need.” God doesn’t necessarily give to everybody in need. He only gives it if they deserve it, and sometimes He gives it because they deserve it even if they don’t really need it as much as the other person.
He works largely on rewards, on a merit system as to whether people can be trusted with it or not. If they’re faithful in a few things, He gives them many things. But if they are not even faithful in a few things, He’s not likely to give them any more. He’s apt to take away the few things they’ve got if they’re not faithful with them. God rewards hard work and merit and the deserving, but He doesn’t reward the lazy who bury what little talent they’ve got. So therefore just because they need more help than somebody else doesn’t necessarily mean they deserve it or are going to get it.
I’ve very seldom found those of great faith in great need. God takes care of His own, especially the faithful ones, the diligent and the hard-working and the deserving and the good stewards who work hard at developing and investing their talents where they’ll do the most good and get the best returns.
The Lord lets you go through lots of tests of faith sometimes. In years gone by we’ve run out of money some times, but usually we had plenty, and I never missed a meal because I had to. We never lacked for anything that we really needed, and God usually supplied for us very well.
God helps those who help themselves and those who can’t help themselves, but He doesn’t necessarily help those who can help themselves but won’t. God will always bless hard work, diligence, faithfulness, and good investment, and He’ll reward it with more. The faithful in the few things or in little will be faithful also in much and many things. But if you’re unfaithful in a few things, you may even lose what you’ve got (Luke 16:10).
The servant who buried the talent and didn’t earn a thing or get a thing out of it, didn’t work at it, didn’t invest it, didn’t gain any more, when he dug it up and gave it back to God and said, “Here, I was afraid I’d lose it, so I saved it,” He threw him out. And He gave the talent to somebody who knew how to invest it and make good use of it.
David said, “I was young, and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). That’s a pretty strong statement. Everybody needs help once in a while and everybody has a trying or testing time once in a while. “Every branch in Me that beareth fruit,” He says that He will perhaps purge it, but He’ll take care of it (John 15:2).
I believe that the Lord rewards faithful hard labor, faithful trusting, diligent obedience, and not laziness, people sitting around expecting God or others to do it all for them. The Lord took the one talent that the guy buried and wasted and didn’t use and didn’t develop and didn’t earn more talents with, and He gave it to the guy who had the most talents because He knew he’d invest it well and he’d be even more successful.
God blesses those who are fruitful and get results, are diligent, hard-working, truly trusting, and genuinely obeying. I never ever saw God fail anybody who really did their best to get out and work hard and earn it one way or another, or just by the hard work of trusting God by faith.
Some people seem to have the idea that living by faith means loafing around and doing nothing. They’ve got an entirely wrong idea of living by faith. They seem to think that living by faith means living by nothing or living for nothing or with nothing. They’re mistaken. Living by faith means putting faith into action, putting feet to your prayers and doing everything you can possibly do, as though everything depended on doing, and praying like everything depended on prayer! But the people who sit around and expect God to drop it into their laps while they’re doing little or nothing are not likely to get much of anything.
God is not going to invest His money or His gifts or His help in people whom He knows it’s going to be wasted on and will do nothing with it—just like they did nothing before. God’s a pretty tough taskmaster along that line, a firm boss. Jesus even commended the unjust steward, who worked at saving himself when he knew he was going to get fired. He went and made friends with the mammon of unrighteousness in a hurry. He worked at it. He was a smart guy. He earned his way, even if he was the wrong kind of guy. (See Luke 16:1–12.)
God says, “He that scattereth abroad, it increaseth” (Proverbs 11:24). We scatter it abroad. That doesn’t mean throwing it away or wasting it; it means giving it out where it will count, like “the sower goes forth to sow” (Luke 8:5). When he gives out like that, scatters the seed in fertile soil where he knows it’s going to bring fruit and get results and be profitable, it increases.
“But he that withholdeth, it tendeth to poverty.” The person who won’t even wisely use what little he’s got and hangs on to his one little talent, for fear he might lose it, and doesn’t give it to God or others who could use it more profitably, he’ll even lose what he’s got. Jesus says, “To him that hath, it shall be given, but from him that hath not, it shall be taken away even that which he hath,” or thinks he has (Matthew 13:12).
I’ve proved through years of experience, if we do our best, God will do His best to help us. But if we’re not interested enough in trying to help ourselves, He’s not likely to help us. I believe in that adage very firmly: God helps those who help themselves. And I add to that: and those who cannot help themselves.
The Bible says that some of you have not because you ask not, or because you ask amiss—you ask for the wrong things out of the will of God, and God’s not going to supply those things that wouldn’t be good for you (James 4:3). If you’re diligent and hard-working, faithful and fruitful, God has promised to supply all your needs.
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