One-Talent Servants

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey” (Matthew 25:14,15).
The Abbas Hotel in Chuknagar, Bangladesh is a small restaurant, known in the region for the quality of its food, but not the variety. The menu at Abbas is simple -? mutton curry and rice, period. That is all they cook, all they serve, and all anyone who goes there can eat. If you want something else, you must go to another restaurant. But if you want curried goat meat with rice, cooked very well, and served abundantly, Abbas may be your place.
There is something positive to be said about specialization. Some companies and some people are very good at doing just one thing. They don’t excel at anything else, but within their area of expertise, they are effective. Their specialty may not be particularly impressive, but if it involves doing good, it is enough.
Jesus’ parable of the talents emphasizes the importance of using what God has given us in his service. In this parable, the one-talent servant is identified as the “bad guy.” His fear leads him to hide his talent and squander his opportunity to serve. For this he is condemned. Some, however, may mistakenly conclude that his sin was the fact that he had only one talent. They may feel that people with limited abilities are not of value to God or to his kingdom and that only the extremely gifted are important. To them, “one-talent man” has become a label for sin and failure. That is not the point Jesus is making. The five-talent or two-talent servants could just as easily have misused the resources entrusted to them and would have been just as wicked in doing so. The one-talent man could have proved faithful and worthy. It was not the extent of their abilities that defined the servants, but the attitude with which those abilities were received.
This same misinterpretation can sometimes affect us in our enthusiasm for ministries. We see good works and desire that others share in doing them. If someone else does not choose to help, we may think of them as less spiritual, as “inferior Christians,” or even as sinful. But they may be committed to a different ministry, which is uniquely theirs. They have one talent and are engaged in using it effectively. Not everyone has five or even two talents. Not everyone is or can be involved in all good works. God does not require it, so we should not either.
A church or community is well blessed if it has an abundance of multi-talented servants. That is obvious. It should also be obvious, however, that a church or community is also blessed if it contains faithful, working one-talent servants. The truth is that most groups have servants of all ranges of abilities. Most of the time, however, those of fewer resources will greatly outnumber those with more. Let us appreciate and encourage all who would serve the Lord, regardless of the abundance of their talent.

One thought on “One-Talent Servants

  1. A good “cause to think” article, with practical application. Was meaningful to me. Thanks for your efforts. Jim Oneal

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