If you are following the Bible Reading Schedule I posted at the beginning of the year (see here), we finished Matthew today. In the readings we covered the Parable of the Talents (or Parable of the Valuable Coins). This is a story that many people who have been around churches for some time have heard.
Interestingly, the rich man (who represents God) does not give his servants (who represent us) equal amounts of money (which represent resources of money, time, talent, ability). One servant receives 5 coins, another 2 coins, and the third only 1 coin. Then there is verse 15, which specifically states, “He gave to each servant according to that servant’s ability.” Not all people are equal. And God, having created us, knows this fact.
This idea does not sit well in Western American culture. We are brought up with the self-evident truth that “all men are created equal.” The idea that some receive more than others by God based on ability rubs us wrong.
Yet it is true. Not all people could become world famous musicians because not all of us have rhythm, and some of us are even tone deaf. Not all people could become neurosurgeons because not all of us have the steady hands to perform that kind of work, let alone the inherent ability to learn what is necessary to be that kind of doctor. Not all people could become a choir director, or a movie star, or a football player, or fill in the blank. We are all different and have different abilities.
But one of the surprising points is the result of the different levels of disbursements. The one who received 5 coins was rewarded with the phrase, “Excellent! You are a good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful over a little. I’ll put you in charge of much. Come, celebrate with me” (verse 21). The one who received 2 coins was rewarded with the exact same phrase in verse 23. And this is God’s economics. It does not matter how much one is given. If that person is faithful with what he or she has, God rewards the same. Two, five, or one million coins–the point is not how much we receive, but whether or not we are faithful with what we have.
The only failure is not to obey God or to be faithful in how we use the resources God entrusts to us. How are we using what we have to further the kingdom of God and fulfill God’s will in the world around us? As long as we use the resources God has given us to to this, the reward will be the same–a well pleased God.