The TV show, America’s Got Talent, is in its 11th season. It gives amateurs and unknown performers a chance to display their particular talent and compete for the prize of a large sum of money.
In my third novel, The Investment, B.J. McCall has a talent for making money. He has amassed a fortune in the billions of dollars. This comes after a great disappointment in his life and a great injustice he did to a friend. Now, as he nears his death, he reaches out to the one who hurt him and the son of the one he hurt.
I believe that each of us has a talent, maybe even several talents. In the book of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus tells a parable story of a rich man who goes on a trip and leaves some of his riches with three trusted servants. The riches in the story are explained as “Talents”. Research indicates that a talent was a measurement of weight applied to things like silver and gold. A talent of gold would have weighed 75 pounds. Gold’s value is measured in ounces and there are twelve ounces in a pound of gold. So, 75 pounds of gold (a talent) would have contained 900 ounces. As I write this, the price of gold in today’s market is about $1,180.00 per ounce. So a talent, containing 900 ounces, would have a value in today’s money of $1,062,000.
Jesus relates that the rich man gave five talents to one servant, ($5,310,000), two talents ($2,124,000) to the second man and one talent ($1,062,000) to the third man. Wow! That is a lot of money. Those servants must have been trustworthy people!
But, the talents God gives us are not measured in this manner. He gives some the talent of teaching, to another the talent of managing, to another, the talent of nursing or treating illness, etc. The list of talents goes on and on. For some, the talent may be the talent of loving. That talent can grow into the sharing of God’s love.
The question, then, becomes, “What are we doing with the talents that God has given us?” Two of the men in Jesus’ story went out and doubled the rich man’s money! How would you have liked to have them as your investment counselors? In The Investment, when Wilson McCann reads the parable of the talents to him, B.J. McCall’s reaction is to say that he could have used those two working for him!
But Jesus’ story doesn’t end there. He tells how the third servant has not brought in any return on the money entrusted to him. He explains his failure this way (From The Message paraphrase)
Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways,
That you demand the best and make no allowances for error.
I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money.
Here it is, safe and sound, down to the last cent.
When McCall hears this part of the story, he says “Some people just don’t get it! You have to invest in order to grow!”
McCall has unknowingly hit upon the essence of what to do with the talents that God gives. We have to “invest” them in order to grow God’s investment in us, and to make the world a better place by becoming better human beings. Paul, writing to the church in Corinth put it this way: (From The Message Paraphrase):
God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
It is one thing to have been given the gift of a certain talent and quite another to “invest” it in God’s kingdom. Like the third man in the parable, many of us have buried God’s gift of a talent. It is not being invested in His kingdom. I’ve been guilty of that on many occasions. I’ve turned away from an opportunity to use my talents in ways that advance God’s purposes in this troubled world. On other occasions, I have stepped out in faith and invested the talents that God has given me in situations, causes and individuals according to His plan. I can tell you that the feeling I have when I do that is like the feeling that the first two men in the parable must have had when their boss said, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Lastly, there is one final aspect of this whole talent discussion. In Jesus’ parable, the three servants had to give an accounting for what they had been given. Jesus also talked about giving an accounting for the words we have said in Matthew and Paul, writing to the church in Rome, took it a step further, saying: “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”
As in the parable of the talents, each of us will be asked, at some point, to give an accounting of what we did with the talents we were given by God.
You may be saying “I don’t have any talent” or “I don’t know how to use the talent that God has given to me.” Talk to God about it. Ask Him to show you your talent and how to use it. But, never doubt that YOU HAVE TALENT. Invest your talent in others and be prepared to show what you have done with it.