Sometimes it is like you’re reading the bible and you do not really understand it. I had that with the parable of the talents. The talent was a currency in the time of Jesus. Because of that you can also name it as the likeness of the Euro, Dollars or Shillings. It is mentioned in Matthew Chapter 25, Vers 25 – 30. Parables at the time of Jesus was something like today a multimedia show or a good movie. He wanted to illustrated a spiritual truth. For a long time the meaning of this likeness was hidden for me. When I was in Nairobi under the shower, suddenly I got understanding. It was like Jesus was opening a door. I want to briefly retell the story and then discuss some point of views:
A very rich businessman is about to leave. Before that he gives his employees a specific amount of money. Everybody has the task to increase the amount. He tells them, one day, he will come back and will see, how much profit everybody has made.
All of the employees have made a profit, except of one. This employee had just buried the money. After a long period of time the businessman comes back. Everybody, that has made a profit gets a reward. These have made 100% Profit – they brought back double of the amount, they had got before from the businessman.
The businessman was very angry about the one that hadn’t made a profit and that had buried his money. The reason why he did it was that he was afraid of the businessman, that he would treat him hard and that he would gather where he had not scattered seed and he would reap where he had not sown.
The story ends with the penalty for that employee. He says to him: “Although you knew, that I gather where I have not scattered seed and harvest where I have not sown – well at least you could have invested my money with the bankers. I could have received my money with interest.”
A long long time I felt uncomfortable with this text. I could not understand what the money was meant for and also I was unaware about the purpose to increase the money – what does it mean in real life? I could not understand what the parable wanted to express. I thought I have to invest everything in my life for God. Sometimes I felt under pressure. I was aware, that for me sometimes it was just not possible to give everything. On the other side, honestly, sometimes I also didn’t want to invest everything.
In these moments I was wondering if God is so harsh that he would expel me, like the employee that has buried his talent. Somehow I felt that this is not the character of God to force people to work for him and then to punish them when they are not productive.
Then I had an inspiring moment under the shower in Nairobi. Suddenly I realized, that Jesus didn’t mean my own efforts to multiply the money. I realized: Often in the bible, when Jesus mentions money, he means love and grace. When it is about money, then it means often forgiveness of sins. The love of God is compared with canceling the debts of somebody. This happens through faith (e.g. Luke 7, 41-47).
From this point of view the money that the employees get from their boss is the grace of God: Faith and his love. They are given to us by God. And by accepting these gifts, they multiply. It can’t be different because love multiplies by accepting it. Because when you receive love, you just can’t help it but to love and this love for people increases. Faith and love are a couple. We get a specific amount of faith, that is growing thus far as we are believing. The more faith I have, the more my faith is growing. Faith is growing because faith leads to actions that create again faith. When we have faith, we act in faith – if not – we haven’t received it (or maybe better: immediately we lose faith).
The money from the businessman stands for: Faith, forgiveness, grace, love – all good things, that come from God. The profit from the money that the employees made are increasing faith that causes the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, self control and so on – look at Galatians 6). There are so many good things, God is giving us for free.
The principles of the Kingdom of God are different: Things multiply when we act out of faith and because of faith we use them and we apply his gifts. What we have received out of faith we can’t hold for ourselves but we feel urged to act and multiply. The gifts of God multiply because they are faith. And acts of faith strengthen the faith. Faith, grace and love multiply automatically as long as we act out of faith.
The lazy and useless employee was not acting out of faith – but out of selfishness. First he didn’t follow the instructions of his boss, to do business. Then he has got the lowest amount of all – again that is a result of his lack of faith, because of his lack of faith he has received less. We all receive according to our faith
As a small flame God had given him the chance of a life of faith. This guy has received the chance to believe – but he didn’t accept it. He didn’t receive the faith because he didn’t accept the gift of God. As a consequence he lived out of his own power and imagination. His lack of faith led him to bury the gift of God. The opportunity to live a life of faith was still there – the whole time his boss was not there he has had the chance to dig out the gift his boss had given to him – that would have been an act of faith. But he didn’t take it because he didn’t believe and so he left his faith buried in the ground. To bury his faith is a picture of fear, of a stuck state and death. Although he has had the chance, this employee had not received forgiveness and he could not grow in love, forgiveness and grace to others and himself. Possibly he was self-righteous and, as a matter of fact, judged others.
When the businessman returned, he said to his employee, that had buried the money: “Although you knew, that I gather where I have not scattered seed and harvest where I have not sown – well at least you could have invested my money with the bankers. I could have received my money with interest.”
For a long time I didn’t understand this sentence, until I was under the shower in Nairobi. Suddenly I realized, that the amounts of money are grace and faith, fruits of the spirit and gifts of God – but not our own efforts. It is, what we receive – not what we achieve.
When the businessman is Jesus, that makes everybody accountable, when he comes back – what is it that he gathers where he has not scattered and harvest where he has not sown? It is the evil. Now the reaction of the businessman is understandable: Jesus takes away the evil – this is it what he has not scattered and what he has not sown. What is the evil that he takes away? Unbelief, selfishness, hatred, fear, worries, sickness – everything, what destroys life and what is loveless.
The blood of Jesus cleans us from all evil and takes our sin away and by his death and his resurrection, by faith, we have been given a new life. He cleans us completely, through and through. Daily, every moment he is giving us a new beginning. By constantly letting go of evil he leads us closer and closer to him. It is like collecting “money”, the grace, he has given to us. It starts with the credit balance, the grace from the beginning, that he gave to us. From that day on he has given us faith in him and our faith is multiplying. What authority, which power has been given to us through God: We receive much, when we take much and then we have much faith. The more we receive from God the more we have confidence in God, the more faith we have, the more we receive.
Lord Jesus, by faith I take you at your word, that you died for me and you resurrected. Forgive me that I didn’t surrender myself and my life completely to you. Renew me and my life constantly by forgiving my debts. I ask for an encounter with you, come inside of me, touch my feelings, my mind, my thoughts and everything, that I am. Reign in me and renew me completely. Teach me through your word and your Holy Spirit, what it means to live constantly connected to you. Prepare me for the day of your second coming, by being more and more graceful and growing in faith. Lead me through your Holy Spirit. Thank you, that you love to do this.
(c) Steffen Bürger
Thanks for proofreading by Sarah Nafula