The Parable of the Talents
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[c] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, [ to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[e] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Capitalism is an economic system which allows the private ownership of property and the unleashing of human potential. The economic gains have alleviated poverty in more countries than any other man-made system.
The system rewards those who are successful and punishes those who fail.
The Parable of the Talents is a story Jesus gave which highlights what God expects from each of us.
In the story, Jesus emphasized the private ownership of property, personal responsibility, and economic trade. The owner was going on a trip and therefore invested a portion of his capital with three of his managers. But each manager’s share was apportioned based on their ability. One started out with 62.5% of the owner’s wealth, a second with around 25%, and the third with the remainder 12.5%.
When the owner returned, he asked for an accounting. The two who combined started with 87.5% of the owner’s investment, doubled his money. Each accepted the personal responsibility to venture out and invest the owner’s wealth to gain a good return on their efforts. The one who had the smallest amount to invest though, was fearful and didn’t do anything. In fact, he was so afraid of failing, he simply buried the start-up capital in the ground.
The owner praised the two who took risks and doubled his money. However, the one who didn’t even try, he chastised him. Even if he didn’t try himself, the owner believed he would have done better by giving the capital to bankers and received at least interest on the money. The owner called him wicked and lazy for not doing something more with the capital he received.
The shocking outcome though is the one talent was then given to him who had the most. Many of us in today’s culture would cry unfair. But the owner made the statement that those who have more will be given more, and those who have little, will even lose out on what they have.
Of course, we can solely spiritual the entire parable which emphasizes that those who have Godly riches and use them for the sake of others will experience more and more of heavenly rewards. But those who aren’t rich with heavenly treasures, and fail to share what little they have with others, will even have the little they own taken away. Yet, isn’t God also concern with both our spiritual well-being as well as the physical necessities?
Here Jesus demonstrates private ownership of property, employees, and capital investment. Yet shocks the audience with the fact that those who may have little will even have less unless they are willing to take risks with the small portion they are given.
Jesus lived under Roman domain with his fellow citizens. And throughout Scripture he emphasized principles of capitalism. It took Adam Smith to write his book some 1800 years later to reveal the benefits of a capitalistic system. As all systems reveal, the problem isn’t with the process or structure, but with the heart of humanity. It takes a strong moral compass to effectively work. And without God’s guidance and the bridling of human nature, people have a tenancy to destroy one another. Yet, under the authority of Jesus Christ, people can redeem any system and fully employ its benefits for all. The same is true with Capitalism.
The benefits and rewards have built the most developed civilization in human history. Yet humans still have the challenge of managing the power, money, and luxuries earned from their efforts. Without God’s Spirit allowed access to change a person’s heart, it is a matter of time for a person or society to self-destruct from their ungodly lifestyle. Yet Jesus once stated that what is impossible for man is possible with God.
The same is true with a Capitalistic society. But are we willing to make that happen?
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