Devotional Thoughts: 2nd Coming - what did you do while I was gone?
This passage is very familiar to anyone who attended First Chinese Baptist Church and heard the teachings of Dr. Timothy Lin.
I attended that church during my formative early years in my Christian journey and this passage is seared into my being.
Here are some of the key things in this passage that have stuck in my mind:
(1) Some people might complain, well, the master only gave that guy one talent and the others got two or five! See Matthew 25:15.
The New American Standard Bible translation is a very literal translation so the notion of a talent is not meaningful to us today.
According to the New International Version footnotes, a talent is worth $1000. The English Standard Version says a talent is twenty years worth of wages! This is a clear case of how our distance historically and culturally from the events comes into play in understanding the Bible.
One thing is clear though, it isn't a small sum of money like a few bucks. It was a sum sufficient to do business with in that time period.
(2) Why was the master so mean to the guy who buried the money?
The guy who buried the money really buried himself by what he said in Matthew 25:24-25:
Sir, I know you are a hard man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth and here it is.The reply is harsh and rightly so in Matthew 25:26-27:
You wicked and lazy servant! You think I'm a hard man, do you, harvesting crops I didn't plant and gathering crops I didn't cultivate? Well, you should at least have put my money into the bank so I could have some interest.The amount of money he got was sufficient to do something! But he did NOT do anything. He did NOTHING but bury it in the ground. He didn't even do the easiest thing which was to put it in the bank. His actions revealed his heart: he didn't care about the responsibility the master gave him and he didn't want to see his master get any benefits.
This story reminds me of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that I came across awhile back, It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
Lord, I have been given something to do. Maybe not as much as the guy who got five bags of money. Perhaps I have been given two or maybe even only one. But what you have given to me, help me to use for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. And in so doing, receive, someday, your commendation, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" Amen.