What does this story of a man going on a journey and giving to his servants various talents teach

This is called the parable of the talents. There are many profound truths to be gleaned from this parable and we need to study it carefully to fully understand them. What this parable teaches has a double application - present and future. In V29 Jesus reveals a very important principle with regard to the believer's reward and state in the future eternal kingdom. What he receives then will depend on what he possesses of the kingdom now. His position and inheritance of the future kingdom will be in proportion to his dedication and consecration to the service of God in the present earthly aspect of the kingdom. The basic teaching of this parable is that God has given every believer spiritual gifts and graces according to each believer's ability, and that these gifts and graces must be put to use in God's service (CP Ro 12:3-8; 1Cor 12:1-31; 2Cor 5:17-19; Eph 4:7-16; 1Pe 4:711). God means us to use these gifts and graces for the extension of His kingdom. They are not given to us for our profit, but for His. The believer who does not use his gift or grace for God's glory is the same as the servant in the parable who hid his talent in the ground (CP Mt 5:14-16).

There is a tendency among some Bible commentators to downplay the punishment the servant received in the parable of the talents. They teach that symbolically it compares only to loss of rewards in heaven, but that is not what the parable is teaching at all. The servant was not punished simply because he failed to return a profit to his master. He was punished because underlying his failure to return a profit was his prior intention not to even invest his master's money (CP Mt 25:24-25). He had no intention of putting his master's money to work, and then he justified himself for not doing so by finding fault with his master, and accusing him of unfair business practices. He was condemned by his own words (CP Mt 12:35-37). He was not a true and faithful servant as the other two were. He was found to be untrue and unfaithful, and the punishment he received is the equivalent of one who merely professes faith in Christ being condemned to hell. Not everyone who calls Jesus Lord is going to heaven (CP Mt 7:21-27). The slothful servant's prior intention not to put his master's money to work is reminiscent of the guest in the parable of the marriage feast in Mt 22 who had pre-determined not to put on a wedding garment. Their punishment was the same (CP Mt 22:2-14). The parable of the talents illustrates the attitude of many professing Christians in the contemporary church. They are prepared to do the work of God on their terms, but not on His. They accept that part of the Bible that conforms to their theology, but reject the parts that do not. But God has the final word (CP Mt 25:28-30 with Mk 4:21-25). The kingdom of God would soon be made manifest that all can see it alike, and Jesus admonishes us to put into practice what we hear. It is not to be hidden, but used in the service of God. What we do with the truth we receive will determine whether or not we will be given more, or lose even that which we already have. This is a stern warning to believers to beware what they hear, and a promise that if they hear aright - if they use what they hear in the service of God - more truth will be given them. We also see in the parable of the talents the biblical pattern for promotion in the New Testament church. Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Apollos and Titus to name a few, were all promoted after proving their faithfulness in lesser areas of ministry first. God promoted them just as Jesus teaches here, and this confirms our opening statement that what a man receives in the future eternal kingdom will depend on what he possesses of the kingdom in its present earthly aspect.

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