By Greg Jones
Jesus teaches in the parable of the talents that all people are blessed by God with some of His treasure. That we have all been blessed with something which belongs to God. That we have all been entrusted to care for what is God’s in us.
Because God isn’t looking for a creation of puppets, whose every action God controls. God isn’t looking for robots, created to do exactly what God says. No, God has created a universe and from it He is working to build a household of members who do, who act, who unleash God’s blessings they have stored within. Each according to ability.
Yes, Jesus teaches that when we do something faithful with what is God’s (entrusted to us) it makes God rejoice and it makes us bigger. When we put God’s treasure to work for God’s purposes it transforms the creation, and we grow from strength to strength.
Yes, it’s important to really hear Jesus’ words – notice that the rich man does not give the slaves anything. He’s not giving them his treasure, in some inequitable, deterministic or arbitrary distribution of who gets to keep more. No he’s entrusting it to them, so they may steward it, care for it, work it — do something with it on his behalf according to ability to do so.
The reward for faithful service is the same for all regardless of the amount they ‘produce’ for the Lord. The reward is to enter into joy, and to grow and grow in so doing.
In the same way, what treasure you and I possess if it is of God at all, if it is good, true, and faithful, is not ours to own, but rather ours to take care of on behalf of God.
God didn’t have to – because he chose it in love, he poured himself into nothingness and created the world. And up we rose. He poured out a creation from Himself. In utter and total self-giving, God created the universe, and has entrusted us to do similar works of creation and self-giving according to our own ability and relative size.
We can’t make something out of nothing. But we can make something of God’s grace if we choose. The parable of the talents teaches that we can take what treasure God has freely offered us to tend and make something happen.
Or, as the parable teaches, we can also bury God’s free will offering. We can hide God’s grace inside lives of fear and self-concern and anxiety. We can and are free to shrink, and reduce, and ultimately even disappear. We can hold on so hard to our private resources that the tightness of our grip strangles our very soul. Yes, we can … do nothing.
But, we don’t have to. Christ’s parable of the talents says that God is infinitely full of free will offering (of love, of grace, of blessing) and if we do likewise and pour out in faith what we’ve been entrusted with, there will be more to come.
Jesus teaches that if our cup of blessing is full, and we pour it out, it will be filled again. Likewise, if our cup of blessing feels dry, and we hold it out in faith, the members of Christ’s body are called in faith to fill it in encouragement and mutual edification.
Yes, Christ is the free-will offering of a God who rejoices when we share as he shares, when we love as he loves, when we make something good happen from what he has trusted us with.
Enter into the joy of your Lord – do something with God’s treasure that is in you.
The Rev. Samuel Gregory Jones (‘Greg’) is rector of St. Michael’s in Raleigh, N.C. A husband and father, Jones is also the author of Beyond Da Vinci (Seabury Books, 2004), and the bass player in indie-rock band The Balsa Gliders – whose fourth studio release is available on iTunes. Jones is a graduate of Sidwell Friends School, the University of North Carolina, and General Theological Seminary – where he serves as a General Convention-elected trustee. He blogs at fatherjones.com.