“But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. Matthew 25:18
For nearly four centuries numerous adventurers and treasure seekers have searched for the buried gold and silver cache in the Sierra Madre Mountains of New Mexico. It has yet to be found. Robert Lewis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island, has inspired many a young reader to wonder if they will ever discover buried pirate treasure in the sand of some remote island. Many more treasures rest in Davy Jones Locker, i.e. at the bottom of the sea. There are many buried treasures that have been reclaimed by the earth from whence they came and have been of no use for the ones who buried it with false visions of a splendid future dancing in their eyes. In the story that Jesus told here the last of three servants dug up his buried treasure after hiding it in the ground, and gave it back to his master upon his sudden return after being away a long time. At least this servant did not lose this gift from his master, he thought, but it did nothing for anyone in its buried state while the master was away, and the master showed not only great displeasure, but meted out terrible punishment to this one he now regarded as a wicked servant.
This is one of six parables told by Jesus during the last week before his death, all with the theme of making ready and being ready for His return. To emphasize this so emphatically, Jesus must have had this foremost in His mind as He approached the cross, all out of great love for His followers; and yet the ones who have ears to hear their Savior have in these parables a measurement of their own love and obedience for Him, and a means of self-assurance they are genuine disciples of the Lord: possession of spiritual oil, putting their varied gifts to work on a daily basis, and regularly serving others as seeing Christ in them.
This middle parable of Matthew 25 teaches all professing Christians have been endowed by the Lord with at least one gift, and some with many gifts. We are not all equal in this; God is the giver of gifts according to His good pleasure. We have varying gifts in both their nature and number. Jesus teaches this here and elsewhere, i.e. “To whom much is given, much will be required. A greater number of gifts require greater responsibility. But all of us are required some responsibility, for all have been endowed with at least a gift. If you bury your gift by never putting it to use, the sudden return of Christ will provide zero opportunity to engage that gift in service. All you can do if the Second Coming finds you unprepared is, as this wicked servant, hand back what was given to you having never been used for the purpose for which it was given; rendering it useless, and personally rejected, even if you have never given it any thought.
Two of the servants doubled the value of their talents, apparently by putting them to work. The Lord is not interested in a doubling of monetary value in the sense you hand back an increased bank account to him; it is rather the use of your gifts in the spiritual growth of your own soul, and in your invigoration of the souls of others by the working of the Holy Spirit in and through you. Profits gained by the usage of your gifts are measured by your part in the furtherance of His kingdom. The Apostle Paul said of the many he served, helped, and ushered into the kingdom that these saints were “his joy and his crown. This was the return with greater abundance of the gifts His Master had bestowed on and in him. No buried treasure in the ground, but gifts put to work to expand the Master’s Kingdom; the very purpose for which this master in this parable distributed talents to these three servants.
Devoting yourself to serving Christ in His Kingdom is NOT for later, whenever later is; it is for today, for none of us knows when the night is coming when no man can work. It is not a slow, obvious setting of the sun. Burying your gift is just another form of procrastination, lack of faith, and courage. Aim for this by your immediate service in the work of His Kingdom: hearing His voice spoken personally to you when He comes, “Well done good and faithful servant….come and share your master’s happiness! (Matthew 25:23)
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