Chapter 23

To Each According To His Ability

For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey. (Matt. 25:14,15)

According to this passage, the master delivered to each of his servants his goods, distributing to each according to his capacity. To the one having the ability to handle five talents the like amount was entrusted; to the one possessing the capacity for handling two talents only that amount was given; and to the one-talent man the master gave one talent.

To the casual reader, it is evident that each one was entrusted with the amount that he could manage perfectly. This fact shows very clearly that the Lord desires quality goods and quality service. The one who possesses the ability to manage five talents is incapable of handling ten, or even six. The two-talent man cannot successfully use to advantage three talents. He can, however, to perfect satisfaction, manage two talents. The fact that the master did not give him one talent, which he could have managed successfully, shows that the Lord wishes each of His servants to use his capacities and abilities at one hundred percent efficiency. Furthermore, it also proves that He desires each of us to use his talents--all for our absent Lord's interest.

In view of this teaching, it is obligatory upon every Christian to use successfully all of his divinely conferred endowments and talents for the advancement of the Lord's cause among men. We are placed in the world not to seek our own pleasure but to advance the Lord's cause unto the ends of the earth. Unfortunately, the bulk of humanity does not realize this most important truth. When one accepts the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerates the heart and abides in the soul, in order to work in and through Him the plans and purposes of God.

This truth is set forth in Eph. 2:8-10. Note the language, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works ..." God works upon those who accept Him, regenerating their souls and empowering them by His spirit in the inward man that they might carry forward His plans and purposes among men.

But all do not have the same natural endowments. Some of God's servants are five-talent men whereas others have only two talents, and still others possess only one talent. The Lord Jesus Christ takes this fact into consideration at the present time and will do so in awarding rewards at His coming.

The Faithful Servants

The servant who received the five talents was absolutely faithful and true. He used his lord's goods with one hundred percent efficiency and gained five other talents. The one receiving the two talents was as faithful as he to whom the five were entrusted. Though having a more limited capacity, he, being faithful, used his two talents for the advancement of his master's cause and gained two others.

At the return of the lord, according to the parable, the servants were brought before him and were required to give an account of their stewardship. The man receiving the five talents joyfully brought five additional ones and turned them over to his master who, with satisfaction, said, "Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful, over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord." These words were indeed music to the heart and the soul of the faithful servant.

The one who received the two talents was just as faithful with his master's goods as the five-talent man and gained another two talents. Hence when he was called to give an account of his stewardship, he brought his two additional talents. To him his master spoke the same words of commendation as he had done to the five-talent servant. Where there is much given much is required and where there is little given, little is required. The Lord has never been unreasonable in his expectations and demands, but He does have a right to desire from each of his servants a faithful discharge of duty and an increase according to the ability given.

The Unfaithful Servant

When the one-talent man was called to render an account of his stewardship, he came bringing only the talent which had been given him. Immediately he started to make excuses. What he said was simply a smoke screen to shield his unfaithfulness. Assuming the correctness of the explanation, the Lord showed the inconsistency of this servant's conduct. When he made his plea the master rejected it and showed that there was no reason for his unfaithfulness.

Christ Returns — His Servants Rewarded

The one who received the five talents and gained five others was placed by his lord over many things. In the same manner, the two-talent man, who gained two others, received a reward commensurate with the service rendered.

The rewarding of the saints, according to Matt. 16:27, will be at the time our Lord returns: For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds.

So we see that the rewarding explained in the parable being studied will be at the Second Coming of Jesus.

Because the one-talent man buried the money entrusted to him and refused to use it for his master's advantage, even that which he had was lost to him, and he was cast into outer darkness. The talent with which he originally was entrusted, according to Matt. 25:28, was taken from him and given to the one who had the ten talents.

The Lord gives some talent to everyone. If a person uses it properly for God's glory and for the blessing of humanity, he will have an increase. On the other hand, if he fails to use it, even that which he has decreases and finally reaches the vanishing point.

To illustrate this principle, if I should tie my arm in a sling and not exercise it for several weeks, it would lose its strength. This principle obtains in both the spiritual and intellectual realms. According to this prediction, it also will be one of the factors determining the rewarding of God's people.

The Lord gives each of us certain capacities. They are to be developed and used for God's glory. It is reasonable to suppose that we shall, in the future ages, exercise the talents which we have developed in this life.

There seems to be authority in the Scriptures that in Eternity we shall constantly be growing and developing in our capacity for service and worship. The positions which we occupy in the Millennial Age and throughout Eternity will be determined by our faithfulness during this life.

The servant who received one talent and refused to use it for his master's advantage was to be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. In this connection the question arises, Is this man lost? But a prior question demands consideration: Was he ever saved?

To answer this, one must remember that the parable of the talents is introduced by the conjunction "for," and that it explains the situation that will exist at the coming of the Lord. As already seen, the parable of the ten virgins which precedes it illustrates "the kingdom of heaven." We have also observed that the kingdom of Heaven embraces all Christendom. Since the parable of the talents is explanatory of the parable of the virgins, we can see that the Lord, in this latter parable also, was not discussing the Church (the body of Christ) but all Christendom. There are many in the great realm of Christian profession who have never been born again. Many hold membership in churches but they have never experienced the miracle of grace known as "regeneration." I am inclined to believe the one-talent man refers, as do the five foolish virgins, to those to whom the Lord will say, "I know you not."