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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Parable of the Talents

The next parable is that of three servants. The story is that the Master leaves three servant in charge of huge sums of money, 10, 5 and 1 talent each. The first two invest the money, while the third hides it. When the Master returns, the first two are welcomed into his family, having doubled the amount with which he trusted them. But the last can only return what he has been given. These are the concluding lines of the story:
His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Compare the punishment, the last parable, the foolish virgins are left outside the banquet, evidently in darkness because they needed lamps. Here the darkness has "weeping and gnashing of teeth," and the servant was thrown there. Seems to be a stronger warning.

Also, the misbehavior was more specific. From the first story, I can't really tell what "being ready" means. I took it to mean living well. But here, the misbehavior is about failing to act, failing to be productive, probably in the larger world. The foolish lazy servant might have thought he was "being ready" by keeping his master's fortune well hidden. This says, you have to do something.

Is there a penalty for not sharing the gifts God has given you? Even if you don't believe in God you understand the expression. I think you will live a happier life if you share your gifts with the world. And the consequences of failing to act, are serious business. You only get one life, if you fail to live it well, if you find you've wasted it, is that a more or less harsh punishment than being thrown in the outer darkness?

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