Q&A The Parable of the Talents

Here is a great email Question I received about how to intepret parables…

Q: I’ve been doing an in depth study on The Parable of The Talents. God has shown me so much in it….I would like to seek your advice on something though….
It concerns Matt. 25:24-27….What does the servant mean when he says, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting……….. not scattered seed..”? and what does the master mean when he says, “Well then you should have put my money……….. received it back with interest.”? How do these two statements relate to Jesus.?

A: That is a great question. I think something to always remember when studying parables is that a parable is different from an allegory. In an allegory you have a story where almost everything is symbolic of something else. However, a parable is a story that is told to convey one main point or theme. Some of the elements in the story can be symbolic, but they do not have to be.

I think this passage relates to God and our relationship with Him in the following ways…

First, the master in the story divided the money among his servants according to their abilities (v. 15). No one received more or less than he could handle. Failure in the assignment of the servants could only come from laziness or hatred toward the master. I believe that the talents represent any kind of resource we are given. God gives us time, gifts, and other resources according to our abilities, and expects us to invest them wisely until he returns. We are responsible to use well what God has given us. The issue is not how much we have, but how well we use what we have. I think that the second main point of the story is that Jesus is coming back and therefore we should use the resources he grants us diligently.

The last part of the parable, and the part that you had the question about is a little tricky. When Jesus describes the master as a “hard man” and “gathering where you scattered no seed”, he is not describing the character of God, instead He is describing the misconceptions that the evil servant had about the master. I think most people have misconceptions that God is mad at them and unfair, before they accept his grace and realize how much God has blessed them with and how much He loves us. One of the things I ask God for on a regular basis is that He would shatter any misconceptions I have of Him.

The last part in v. 27 about the interest, basically means that instead of doing nothing and refusing to use the talent, the servant could have at least done the bear minimum and produced some profit.

I hope I have answered your question. Let me know if I can do anything else for you.

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