Jesus Christ sometimes taught with parables to help us understand spiritual truths. In Matthew chapter 25, you can read about the Parable of the Talents. In this parable, a man called his servants …
Jesus Christ sometimes taught with parables to help us understand spiritual truths. In Matthew chapter 25, you can read about the Parable of the Talents. In this parable, a man called his servants together before leaving on a long journey. To one he gave five talents, to another he gave two, and to the last, he gave one.
In this story, a talent represented a large sum of money. In those days, a single talent was worth about 16 years of wages for a laborer. That is no small amount of money that was left in the care of the three servants.
Upon his return, the master of the servants came to see what had become of the money he had left with the servants. In his absence, the servants who had received five and two talents doubled them. In scripture we hear the words, “... Well done, thou 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 the Lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
The last servant — the one who had only received one talent — had different results. Acting in fear, he buried the talent, fearing the consequences if he lost it. In consequence, the talent he had been given was taken from him and given to the first servant who had doubled the talents of his master.
In reflecting on this parable, I wondered if this wasn’t just a little unfair. How could the master expect so much from someone who started with so little?
When we look at the world around us, are we consumed with perceived unfairness and injustice? Do we let real injustices and unfairness keep us from moving forward in life? Haven’t we all entered into this world in varying states of advantage and disadvantage? What are we supposed to do with all of this?
I think Jesus intended us to consider the expectations, results, and the consequences of action in the parable.
In life it matters little where we start and how we finish, but it matters a great deal how we live. Our individual choices and responses to the circumstances we find ourselves in life will determine how we progress in this world. I doubt it matters much to the Lord what we accumulate in this life, but it will matter how we have lived.
I think it will matter if we have loved our neighbor. It will matter if we have been honest. It will matter if we have been kind.
In a world in commotion, with conflict all around us, we could do our part to invite peace by following the example of Jesus Christ when he said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
In the Parable of the Talents and in our lives today, it doesn’t matter what we have, but how we live.
(Andy Jacobsen serves as president of the Cody Wyoming Stake for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
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