Category Archives: Things Jesus Taught

What You Do With What You’re Given

5 golden rings

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me five golden rings.

In Matthew 5:14-30, Jesus tells a parable with many varied interpretations. The parable tells of a master who leaves his servants with talents, a type of currency used during his time. To one servant he gave one talent, to another two, and to another five (Here’s the reference to five golden rings.). Why did some servants get more than others? Verse 15 tells us that it was according to his ability.

The servant with two talents made two more, and the one given five talents doubled his to ten. The servant with only one talent was afraid and buried the talent for safe-keeping. When the master returned, he was pleased with those who had doubled his investment, but he was very displeased with the one who buried it.

But what is this talent business about? I’ve heard and read that it’s about money. When God gives you money, you should invest it and more will come. After all, the master tells the servants who doubled the investment, You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much, (v. 21, 23, ESV). The most common explanation I’ve heard about this text is that talents (rather than form of money Jesus uses) should be translated with our English definition. Our talents are our areas of giftedness.

I think the most accurate explanation of Jesus’s parable is that some people were (and are) given more understanding of the Kingdom of God. My husband, for example, has an amazing understanding of the Bible. He’s like a human Bible dictionary. He did complete a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Studies and a Ph. D. in Historical Theology, but he was gifted at interpreting Scripture before his extensive education. What if he just sat at a desk all day and never used his understanding (and ability to teach) about the Bible? What if he buried his knowledge and understanding? No one would benefit from the talents that God gave Him.

In the New Testament, some get Jesus, and others do not. Some understand what Jesus can do, and others understand who Jesus is. Some only get from Jesus, and others choose to follow Him.

It’s not our job to decide who has more understanding of the Kingdom of God. One servant started with five talents (remember…five golden rings), and one began with two. The master didn’t differentiate between the servants who doubled the investment. He was proud of both. The servant who messed up was the one who buried his talent. We should never bury the good news of who Jesus is. Instead, we should tell others the good news so that we double, triple, and even quadruple those who are part of the Kingdom of God.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. 

To learn from my human Bible dictionary, my husband David W. Pendergrass, visit his website to check out blogs, sermons, and podcasts.