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Many modern translations of the Bible have changed the word ‘steward’ to ‘manager’, for ease of understanding, yet a steward in Bible times was far more than a manager.  A steward was the trusted servant in a rich man’s household, who enjoyed high responsibility and relative freedom to manage the estate of his master.  Abraham’s chief steward stood to inherit his master’s estate if God hadn’t miraculously provided Abraham and Sarah with a child.

In His Parable of the Talents (Matt 25 v 14), Jesus taught a simple parable that explains so much. 

“Again it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.  To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to the other, one talent; each according to his ability.”  After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.  He who had been given the five talents had put them to work and gained five more for the master.  Likewise he who had two had gained two more.  But the servant with one talent had dug a hole and buried it for safe keeping.

“Well done good and faithful servant.” said the master to those who had doubled their talents.  “You have been faithful in a few things.  I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness.”  But to the servant who returned his one talent he replied: “You wicked lazy servant.  Throw that worthless servant outside into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew chapter 25 lists several parables that teach on ‘The Kingdom’ that was about to be established at His death.  Like all Jesus’ parables, this one had a hidden meaning which becomes clear as we think about it.  The key to the metaphor was the identity of the man going on the journey.  The man is Jesus, and his servants – they are ourselves.  And ‘the talents’ – they are symbolic of our various giftings and abilities, entrusted to us to be used in the our service to the Master.

This story has become so well known that in the English language we have even adopted the word ‘talents’ which referred to the coinage of the day, to mean 'giftings’.

It’s a simple illustration of a profound truth.  Jesus is saying that He is going to a far country (to be with his ‘Father’) for a time, and will return.  In the meantime He is lending us various giftings, to some more than others, to be invested for his Kingdom until he returns.  We are each created differently with different giftings, for the purpose of building His Kingdom.

To my mind the two most important facts Jesus taught were:

1.  Our abilities and accomplishments are not ours, no matter much we pridefully claim them to be.

2. One day we must hand them all back to him.  We will be accountable for what we have done with what He has given us.

These abilities and giftings include our money, health, skills, education, possessions, family heritage and culture, intelligence, spiritual giftings, friends, God’s unique calling for each of us, etc.

So, thank God for what He has given you.  Recognise that your life is His, and that He chose and equipped you for a particular role in the building of His Kingdom.

Best wishes, Kelvin

December 2013