In the parable of the talents, Jesus says a master gave his servants different amounts of funding before he left on a long trip. The master gave one servant 10 talents and another servant 5 talents. Both of them invested their talents and made more talents. The master gave a third servant only one talent, and that servant buried his one talent in the ground.
When the master came back and asked for an accounting, the servant who buried his only talent in the ground told the master that he knew his master was a “hard taskmaster”, reaping where he did not sow and gathering where he scattered no seed. So, the servant said he was afraid and hid the talent in the ground.
The master got angry at the servant’s response, calling him wicked and slothful. Then the master took the one talent away from the servant, leaving him with nothing.
Stop and think about this parable for a bit. The servant who only received one talent was afraid the master was a hard taskmaster, and it seems he was! Is this supposed to be a parable of what God is like?
Is that what God is really like?
At other places in the Bible we see statements of God honoring the industrious and treating the slothful as wicked. It seems God desires us to be industrious, but is God really the hard taskmaster in the parable?
This parable is an allegory. A parable is meant to convey some truth to us, often about our relationship with God, so gaining understanding of what Jesus is saying here is important.
The parable of the talents seems to affirm that God gives people natural abilities in different measures. Such a thought is antithetical to post-modern sensibilities. In our post modern world, we aren’t just content with equal opportunities; we want strict equality across the board.
Though we often gloss over the reality that people are not all created equal in talent in polite and politically correct ways, we know that people have different talents of different types and different measures. Some people are born with musical talent like Beethoven, and some people are born without limbs. But the difference in talents isn’t the focus of the parable.Continue reading “Is God a Hard Taskmaster?”