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One of the themes I hear about almost everywhere I turn is about how good God is and what a good mood he is in. The story of the bags of gold that Jesus told is on the same theme. I have heard a lot about using the talents God has given us as the message here. And it is. But part of it, maybe much of it, is about the heart we have for God and how we see Him.

  • Of the three men in this story, only one starts his conversation with God with an indictment of who God is.
  • His first sentence revealed his heart.
  • He believed at his core that God is a hard, stubborn, and stiff necked.
  • WOW!!!

Now think about all the messages you have heard about God. Which fall in the “God is good” category and which fall into the “God is mean” category. What does God think about that?

Well, my oh my, did God get angry with him? His answer was blistering. Oh, my goodness, he ticked Him off big time. This is not the kind of answer I want to get from my Father. I want the “well done” answer. I do not want the “you wicked and lazy” man answer. I want the “he has a heart after God” answer. I want Him to put His arm around me.

  • May I take what God gives me and have a heart that knows He is good.
  • May I take and use what He gives me well.

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.[1]

Matthew 25:24-30 (ESV)

In contrast to the first two slaves, the third comes to the master with a different accounting of the one talent given to him: He has hidden it in the ground. The master replies, “You wicked, lazy servant!”

  • The wickedness of the third slave primarily stems from his attitude about his master, which in turn has led to laziness and bad stewardship.
  • The way he conceives of him (“you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed”) causes him to fear and then to hide away the talent and not seek to advance the master’s capital.
  • The servant’s misperception of the master has produced alienation, mistrust, fear, and then personal sloth.
  • Had he truly loved his master, he would not have attempted to place the blame on him but would have operated out of love.

The master tells him that he should have at least deposited the talent “with the bankers.” “Banker” here most likely refers to moneychangers, who charged a fee for their services. Investment houses or banks as we know them were basically nonexistent in ancient Jewish society. For safe keeping a private person would either bury valuables or entrust them to a neighbor.

But the blame in the servant is because he was not industrious enough to seek to earn his master interest on the talent. The Old Testament prohibited charging interest from other Jews but not from Gentiles. While contemporary usage distinguishes interest from usury—a higher rate of interest charged for a loan than is allowed by law or common practice—ancient Judaism and later rabbinic practice made no such distinction and consistently avoided all appearance of charging interest from each other.

Jesus is not advocating setting aside the Old Testament law here; rather, he is referring to investing the talent with moneychangers, who performed a valuable service of exchanging a variety of forms of currency for those traveling through Palestine from the Diaspora. This is different from the moneychangers who were perverting temple practice. Less likely, Jesus may be pointing to the practice of Jews in Palestine charging interest on loans to Gentiles. Or, given the flexibility with which Jesus used comparisons in parables, he may be using a prohibited practice of earning interest to make a point about a good thing.[2]

The main thing: The issue is the man’s heart and how he sees God. God is not a hard man. God is God and God is good. God has our best interests at heart. God is a loving Father who shows us how to love through His son Jesus. That is some very good news.

We have good news! Want to know how to be saved? Click here and here for more.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 25:24–30). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Wilkins, M. J. (2004). Matthew (pp. 807–808). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.