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Parable of the Talents & Your Business


Parable of the Talents

The Parable of the Talents or the Parable of the Bags of Gold is a story of eternal life purpose, investment, and business. Here’s the text of the parable (Matthew 25:14-30) *


“… it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.


“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’


“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’


“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’


“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’


“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.


“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Jesus used parables like this to describe the Kingdom of Heaven; or God’s Kingdom. Many business owners, me included, interpret this parable as a lesson on the stewardship of your business.


What are Your Bags of Gold?

The first question that you must answer is, “What bags of gold has God given me?”

You’ve been given unique knowledge, skills, and abilities. You’ve been entrusted with money from your customers to serve them in some way. Your business has some level of wealth. You have been blessed with friendships, family, suppliers, employees, and all sorts of people who have chosen to do business with you.


These resources are your bags of gold gifted from God.


What about the Inequity?

Reading this story in our current political environment, you can also ask, “Why were these three servants treated differently? One servant got five talents, another servant got two talents, and the third servant got only one talent.”


Like it or not, each of us has been gifted differently. Jesus says, “…each according to his ability.” Assess what gifts you have been given, and do the most you can with your talents, treasure, and time. Don’t envy others who have achieved amazing success and don’t look down on those who have less. Be grateful for your blessings and think about how you can use those to grow your business and expand God’s kingdom.


Are we Servants?

The short answer is YES. Whether you think about it this way or not, you have entered this world with nothing; and you will leave with nothing. What you have right now doesn’t belong to you. In our age of materialism, this is not a message that most want to hear. It is the objective truth. Your belongings, your family, your relationships, and your business have been gifted to you by your master.


What does this have to do with business?

Your role in your short existence is to serve in a way that multiplies what you’ve been given. All successful businesses act in this way. There is a need that they fill. They charge money to fill that need. Investments in successful businesses will double, triple and quadruple in value. This value is felt by employees, customers, and the business owner.

What you leave behind is your legacy. If you’ve been faithful with what you’ve been given, you will receive even more to invest and grow. That “even more” may be what you and your employees have earned through hard work. Or, it may be re-gifted from others who have failed to multiply what they’ve been given. In a truly free market, good businesses inherit the customers of the poor and failing businesses.


What about the “wicked and lazy servant”?

I think we have all been the wicked and lazy servant on occasion. This is someone who has been gifted with “something”. Clearly, in this parable, this individual was not as gifted as much as the other two servants.


Lets’ start with this servant’s first remark, “Master, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.” When you pull this statement out of the parable and into our lives, this is a person who is not a believer. It’s someone who either believes that God doesn’t exist; or that God is not responsible for gifting them anything. Unfortunately, this attitude is becoming more and more common in our modern day.


He goes on to say, “So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground.” The core emotion here is “fear”. Owning a business is scary. If you invest $20,000, there is no guarantee that you will get a return on your investment. Right? If you’re invested in the stock market, and you’re convinced the market will crash, you will take your money out.

He finishes his rant with, “See, here is what belongs to you.” This is the most cutting statement of all. He is saying that his master is not worthy of anything more than what he gave him in the first place.


Think about this in the context of the definition of these bags of gold. The bags of gold are your knowledge, skills, abilities, relationships, employees, friends, etc. This is such a sad story. This servant literally wasted his life because he was convinced that his life wasn’t meant to serve his master.


This can be a person who is addicted to social media, cable news, drugs, alcohol, pornography, or a workaholic who is working for little gain.


The master’s response to this servant is harsh. “…you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned, I would have received it back with interest.”


The master is implying that had you simply coasted in life, you would have created some benefit that is more than nothing. But because of his bitterness, the lazy servant’s life has been meaningless.


Taking from the Poor, Give to the Rich

This gets even worse for the wicked and lazy servant. What he has will be taken from him and given to the richest servant in this parable. He skipped right over the person with four bags of gold.


In business this is automatic. If you can imagine three grocery stores within the same proximity. One grocery store owner invests in great lighting, the best staff and the best meats and produce. The second grocery store owner invests in quality staff, meats and produce. The third person decides to not open a store at all. Grocery store customers will be forced to go to the two open grocery stores. All the customers that would have gone to the third person’s store have no choice. Right?


But this isn’t just about business or money. This is about EVERYTHING that you’ve been gifted by God. The lazy and wicked servant is not only going to be destitute, but he will also be punished eternally for his lack of effort.


Being the Good & Faithful Servant

The role of the Good and Faithful Servant is not all that attractive by someone who doesn’t have an eternal perspective. Think about it. So, what if you get more money to invest? Doesn’t that just mean more work, more stress, and more responsibility? This isn’t even your money. It belongs to an invisible master, and you’re a servant.


If you believe that life is all about temporal pleasure, you’ will be the wicked and lazy servant… serving only yourself. If you believe that life is an eternal proposition and you own nothing, you’re more liable to joyfully work to grow what you’ve been given. Afterall, this growth is your inheritance in eternity.


Jesus says, “Come and share your master’s happiness!” This clearly implies that you will share in an eternal reward with the master. It is not implying that you will have to continue to work and earn even more. Likewise, the master says to the lazy servant, “…throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” This “weeping and gnashing of teeth” often refers to hell in the Bible. Quite a harsh rebuke for those who have decided to take a passive approach to life.


The Master

As you may imagine, the master is God. Let me fill you in on a secret…. God doesn’t need or want your money. He wants your dedication to growing His kingdom. The knowledge, skills, abilities, relationships, employees, friends, etc…. or “bags of gold”; are your life. It’s your life now and it’s your life beyond this earthly life. Your master wants you to prosper with what He has given you.


What about the servant you never hear about?

This is clearly not Biblical. I’ve often wondered, “What about a servant who attempts to grow his investment, but fails… or loses money?” The implication with this missing servant is clear to me. Jesus is implying that a person who truly invests their talents, time and treasure will not lose. It is important to know that many of Jesus’s closest followers lost their lives to spread the gospel message. And yet, even these apostles thought of themselves as winners. Paul said it best, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)


Something to Think About

There are many messages in this parable. I have read it several times in different situations and get a different meaning each time. As a business owner, I believe the message is clear. Battle the fear that desires you to be passive. Standing still is not a worthy endeavor. Yes, you need to rest on occasion. Always be thinking of ways to grow yourself, the people around you, and the kingdom of God.


By growth… I’m not only talking about your business profits. I’m referring to all your “bags of gold”.


The irony of this multiplying of your gifts is that it will result in a full and prosperous life for you now and the rest of eternity.


About the Author

I’m a business coach, not a preacher 😊 If you want to learn more about how I coach my business owner clients, please visit my website at www.mmbizcoach.com.


* The parable of the tenants described in this post from Matthew 25:14-30 is very similar to the parable of the minas found in Luke 19:10-27

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