Good morning. This morning we hear about a man who was given a once in a lifetime chance to do something good. But instead, the man chose to play it safe. It may seem like one talent is such a paltry amount that it’s really inconsequential—too small to be even worried about or trifled with. However, that one talent was a generous gift that could have produced much good.
But instead of using it for good, whatever that talent was, he was cautious. He played it safe. He did nothing with the opportunity that was presented to him. A wasted opportunity, perhaps never, ever to be given again. However, his master was a generous man. He was someone who trusted others with gifts of enormous potential. All he seemed to be asking of those that he gave the talents to was that they trust themselves enough to use well what he had given them for their use.
It’s a powerful parable. Jesus’ parables are always powerful. And while these parables seem innocent, if we’re paying attention to them, they should make us feel uncomfortable.
This morning, we’re confronted with a parable that should make us want to reconsider what we do with our treasures and our talents. It’s clear Jesus is saying something important, but it’s not just about us. It’s about God and what God expects. In effect, it seems like the Gospel saying to us that God expects us to take risks and that God takes risks in our regard.
God takes a risk in entrusting us with talents and with gifts. Indeed, he took the risk of giving us his only Son, the most perfect gift, but he also took the risk of entrusting to us these gifts and asking us to do something with them. And through our faith, which we will profess again in a few minutes, we accept this ministry to do good for others in imitation of the Lord Jesus.
And who among us has not been blessed here? Blessed in different ways, perhaps more ways than we can even count, with the gifts and with talents to live a life of meaning, a life that can bless other people’s lives as well as our own. But is possible to live our gifts and talents in such a way that they benefit only us: living in such a way that what most concerns us is what we want and what we need and what we dream and what we care for. And after we spend all that time being concerned about what we want and what we need and what we dream for, sometimes there’s little, if anything, left to help those who only want what they need.
We hear in the parable this morning that that’s a tragedy if we use our gifts and our talents and our opportunities only to take care of ourselves. Perhaps taking care of ourselves means that we’re afraid to do anything with them. And like the man in the parable, we bury them. I guess it’s possible to be so afraid that we simply cannot do good with the things that we’ve been given.
And that is a tragedy. The Gospel this morning, my friend, suggests that God values initiative, that God values our independence, giving us freedom so that we can use the gifts that he has given us for the welfare of ourselves and our families and our friends, but also for others. If God has taken such a risk on us with the wonderful blessings that you and I have received, God surely must expect us to take a risk from time to time using generously what we have been given.
In his first letter to the Corinthians. Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit, allotting us gifts individually, allotting each of us gifts.
And those gifts are lifesaving. Those gifts help us become the people that we are meant to be. And as good as it is that we can use them to help ourselves, perhaps the most important thing about those gifts and our use of them is how we give them to others and the risk that we take giving them to others.
It might be providential that this is a wonderful week to talk about gifts and talents, and we’ll celebrate that with our families and friends on Thursday. It will be a wonderful celebration for us all. But how can we sit around that table and not remember that there are folks less fortunate than we are, who don’t have anyone to share a meal with or who may not even have a meal themselves?
How we use our talents and how we use our gifts. That is what Jesus wants to talk to us about today. Amen.
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