2. Calling the master a "hard man" was the servant's perspective, not the master's character. First, he didn't want to DO anything; therefore, doing SOMETHING required energy he didn't want to expend. As a result, the person presenting the challenge appeared unreasonable to the servant. When we face a challenge we may not initially feel like tackling it head on. However, if we see ourselves as capable and are motivated to work through the issues at hand, we approach the situation with confidence. The boss, the counselor, the fitness instructor, the dietitian, the doctor...are perceived as knowledgeable, helpful and trustworthy. We work through the problem, and the result is success. Lack of motivation and poor SELF-perception, on the other hand, can paint a challenge in dark, unpleasant colors that convince us it's not worth the effort and that the person who has given us the task is unreasonable and out to get us. We feel like they are unsympathetic and lack understanding of our issues.
3. Fear is crippling. The servant said he feared the master. What he feared was his own failure. Fear makes us insecure and keeps us boxed into bad habits, poor choices, and limited thinking. Accepting the idea that failure can be a step toward success is one way to break out of the confines of fear.
4. Hiding the good is like not having the good. Have you ever met someone who kept her nice furniture covered with blankets so that it wouldn't get dirty/stained/etc. A garage sale item would have served her just as well. When we hide the good in our lives, we rob others and ourselves of the blessing we could enjoy. Wearing a frown is the same as not having a smile. Gripping our money in a tight fist is the same as not having money to give. Not offering to help someone is the same as not being able to help. The good we have been given is only good if it's put to use.
5. Note that the master did not admit to being a hard man. What he repeated of the servant's accusation was "Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:" (Vs. 26) It's not the master's job to do the sowing and the strawing; the servants do that. His job is to provide what the servants need. God has put within us what we need to build up the Kingdom of Light. WE have both the responsibility and the provision to alleviate the suffering of our world. Seeds are in our hand. We can spread the good news of what God has done, we can sow words of encouragement, and we can offer help where help is needed. Instead of blaming God for poverty, crime, and the poor condition of the world, what if everyone used what was in his/her hand to fund, work, share, and give? What if every child was given the opportunity for birth and development? Perhaps that child would become the grown-up with the cure for the incurable. What if pennies from each of our dollars were invested in easing someone's suffering? Wouldn't more people be encouraged? What if we turned our thoughts toward others instead of keeping a self-centered focus? Mightn't that improve our world and others' quality of life? The seeds are in our hands. Are we sowing them or hiding them?
6. Sadly, when we don't do what we could do, we perpetuate failure. We stand in the way of someone else's success much like the servant's hiding his talent kept the investors from doing a good job for the master. "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury." (vs 27) How often have we seen people love the title they aren't earning? The manager who loafs on company time, the person who loves being the minister of some church department but lacks care for the people he's meant to serve, the caregiver who's doing a job for the money but hasn't a heart for genuine caring, the person who refuses to grow in an area but blocks an enthusiastic participator by filling the position? What if we aren't only accountable for what we did or did not do with our seed but are also accountable for how our choice helped or hindered someone else?
7. Each had been given what the master knew he could trust them with. He matched his expectations to their abilities: 10 talents for the go-getter, 5 for the average, 2 for the below average, and one for the person who maybe hadn't done so well but needed another chance to see that the master believed in him. That single talent represented mercy and a statement of faith; it was not a slight or a reason for offence. How often do we look at others and measure ourselves, usually in an unfavorable light? We have been given grace and mercy and have been entrusted with God's faith in us. We are equipped for OUR success, not someone else's success, and we've been given liberty to develop and grow as we see fit. The master never said how the servants should multiply; he gave them control of their own methods. Perhaps we have the ability to sing. As long as we sing for the Lord, it doesn't matter if it's on the church platform or in a hospital room. Hymn or contemporary. On an album or one-on-one. It's just meant to be used.
8.Finally, what we do for the master benefits us as much as it does him. The servants who did well were given promotion and greater provision. They got to experience joy and rest that the master provided. When we build up God's Kingdom, we can be certain He is taking care of our needs along the way, but not only that, when we invest in God's Kingdom, we experience its benefits. For example, if we reach out in friendship, we make friends. If we pray for others' healing and see a miracle, our faith grows for our own healing. If we encourage someone who has experienced a set-back, we are likely to rise from our own mistakes. As we grow others, we grow ourselves. It's like teaching a lesson or presenting at a conference. The act of preparation solidifies the information for the instructor. As God's Kingdom grows, so does our territory. Greater purpose, greater insight, greater experience. Just as the servants ate from the abundant reaping provided on their master's table, we reap from the seeds we have sown. Both now and in eternity when we rule and reign with Christ. (2 Tim. 2:12).
Tip/Tidbit: What do you have in your hand? Are you experiencing fear or poor perspectives that are causing you to bury your talent? List your abilities, strengths, skills, and opportunities. How might you use these to benefit God's kingdom? Do you see that a God gain is a personal gain as well?