“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 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, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 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? 27 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. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 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. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Asking the Right Questions about the 521
-What are we doing with what we have been given?
-Are we giving life to others, or are we squeezing that life out of them?
-Are we maximizing and multiplying our time, talent, and treasure?
-What is our plan for using what God has given to us for leading growth, equipping believers, and enriching the lives of others?
We continue 2023 for The Reunion Church, by answering these type of questions with what we at Reunion have historically called Living in the 521. The answer to these question helps us to clarify and confirm what God is calling us to do as it directly relates to what He is doing in the world in 2023.
Living in the 521, is based on the parable of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel chapter twenty-five. The Master gives talents (5, 2, and 1) to three different servants each according to their skill and ability – and then he goes away. His return, response, and expectations are uniquely significant, and entirely relevant to us in real time as we look forward to 2023 for the Reunion Church.
Among the many messages and overriding truths in this parable, there should be an understanding that the mere possession of the talents given to the servants by the master is not evidence of approval or salvation. We are servants of the Lord and His kingdom. In this life there are many pleasures, rewards, and fulfillments – sometimes justified sometimes not so much. However, in a biblical context as we follow Christ (the Master) we must understand that we do not all, and we do not always get the reward, recognition, and the affirmation that so many seem to need in order to move forward and finish the journey they have begun. This does not mean that we are not loved by God – we are loved. And, because we are loved by God, we know that we are to faithfully do something meaningful with what He has graciously given – using our time, talent, and treasure.
We walk by faith and obedience to our Lord, regardless of life recognitions, circumstances, successes, failures, accomplishment or adversity. Yes, His Word has promised the peace and comfort of the Holy Spirit, the assurance of our sustainability through His continued presence and unending love, and the path to overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. But remember Jesus gave a clear warning that in this world we would have trouble, and here in this life – everyone doesn’t get a trophy (except in youth sports), only a few actually achieve genuine greatness, and the truth isn’t always what I decide it to be. None of these circumstantial obstacles override the righteous expectation that comes with our faith. Faith in God comes not only with His unending love for us, but also the opportunity to then show our love for Him. If we are faithful in this mutual expectation and belief, then God has promised to not only acknowledge, but to bless our faithfulness to Him.
The biblical principle insisting that we have all been given some type or kind of gifts in this life (in the context of the parable of the talents), is not a groundbreaking revelation. But the 521 parable is significant nonetheless, and is extremely helpful in unpacking the human reality that not everyone uses the talents and gifts from the master to quickly value and multiply those same gifts. We can multiply what we have been given by simply serving others with something of value – by investing in them, what has been invested in us.
It is interesting that the approval and salvation we often seek in this life is uniquely and intentionally attached to growing and multiplying that gift in and through encouragement, service and leadership of others. And within that reality lies the message and the mission of the parable of the 521.
Hardly any parable has any more intrigue than Jesus’ parable of the talents. We believe that there is a breath of new life in this parable, and that its message and mission are for us individually as leaders, and 2023 for the Reunion Church. Join me, in a quick look at Living in the 521.
521 Context and Conclusions
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 is the sixth and final illustration that Jesus used to relate to being prepared for the second advent (coming). Jesus prioritizes our readiness for His return.
The context of the 521 is not about a master who takes his servants from earth to heaven, but rather a master who returns to the scene on earth and judges his servants on what they have done with what He has given them to prepare for His return.
The 521 introduces us to the biblical principle that good stewardship is always connected to faithfulness. It is not always how much, but always how faithful. God blesses faithful.
The 521 story does not direct its message to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, like in the parable of the ten virgins – but rather deals with the expectation and judgment of works as they relate to loving and faithful service as the fruit (evidence) of right relationship with Jesus.
The 521 parable uses the example of ‘money management and stewardship’ to illustrate the reward and the return on faithfulness.
In the 521 Jesus Emphasizes Four Keys to Faithfulness:
Belief – If the Word of God gives us instruction, we should trust that He is good, and believe that He has begun a good work in us.
[verse 14] For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.
Expectation – God does not have unrealistic expectations of us – but He does have righteous expectations. Maximize every opportunity to do good for the Master.
[verse 15] To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
Response – Our first response to God is most often our best response – our second one is either too late or too comfortable. Respond in faith – it is impossible to please God without it.
[verse 16] He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.
Reward – God blesses faith in the moment, God blesses faithful by the intent and the character of our heart, and God blesses faithfulness in all things all the time.
[verse 21] Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
The 521 brings a context and conclusion to the emphasis of Jesus towards readiness for that which is to come. Context – Every believer in Christ should be ready.
Conclusion – Stay ready never have to get ready. Fully Equip.
The Biblical Theology of Living in the 521
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” ESV
“But we have a variety of gifts, according to the grace that is given us; one has prophecy according to the measure of his faith, and one has ministry in his service, and one has that of a teacher in his instruction. One has that of a comforter, which is in his comforting, and a giver in generosity, and a top leader with diligence, and that of caregiver with cheerfulness. And be not deceitful in your love, but hate evil and cleave to the good. Be affectionate to your brethren and love one another; be preferring and honoring one another. Be diligent and do not be lazy; be enthusiastic in spirit; be working for your Lord.”
[1 Peter 4:10-11]
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. ESV
And let each one of you serve his neighbor with the gift he has received from God, as good stewards of the unique grace of God. Everyone who speaks, let him speak according to the word of God, and everyone who ministers, according to what power God gives to him, that God may be glorified in all that you do, by Yeshua The Messiah, whose glory and honor is truly to the eternity of eternities.