TEXT: Matthew 25:14-30; 1 Peter 4:10-11
The students will be able to explain the importance of using the abilities God has given them knowing that the call He has placed upon their lives will be commensurate with the talents they possess. When these talents are offered to God, they will be blessed by Him.
The duties men are called by God to perform are suited to their situations and the talents they receive. The talent which each man has suits his own state best. Five talents would be too much for some men; one talent would be too little. He who receives much must make proportionate improvement. From him who has received little, the improvement of only that little will be required.
There were three different currencies used in Palestine in New Testament times: official, imperial money (Roman); provincial money (Greek); and local Jewish money. The exact monetary value of the talents in the parable we are studying is uncertain; however, the significance of the story lies in the fact that the amounts distributed were not equal, rather than in the exact dollar value being considered.
In this parable a master distributes talents to his servants according to their abilities, to be put to profitable use. Expressions such as, “using his talents well,” are probably derived from the figurative use of the word talents. In this lesson we will draw a parallel between the monetary talents mentioned in the parable and the talents or abilities God entrusts to us. We will find that those who choose to use their talents in God’s work are rewarded by Him, while those who are unfaithful and careless with their talents will not only miss the blessings in store for them, but will suffer eternal loss.
- In dealing with this parable a number of facts are presented:
How many talents did each servant receive?
Why did they receive different amounts?
From whom did the servants receive their talents?
For what purpose were they given?
When the lord of those servants returned, how many talents did each have?
Response: Your students will supply the following answers to these questions:
--One received five, another two, and the last, one.
--Each was given according to his ability.
--They received their talents from the master.
--The parable does not state this directly, but we can assume from the fact that the servant knew the character of the master (verse 24) that he also knew what the master would expect of him: to put the money to use.
--The first two had doubled the amount of their talents, the last had only kept the one.
- Even though this parable was given in reference to monetary talents, in what way could it be similar to, or have a spiritual parallel to a Christian’s experience?
Response: Your students will likely bring out that, in the parable, each servant received something. They should conclude that every Christian will receive at least one talent. The talents in the parable were given by the master; our talents are given by God. The servants in the parable chose whether or not to use their talents for their master; we decide if we are willing to use our talents for God. In the parable, the master did not return to bestow more talents on those who were using what they had received; it was the servants’ diligence which brought the increase. God expects us to improve the talents He has given us so we can be effective in His work.
- Make a list of talents or abilities that you believe can be used in the work of the Lord.
Response: The most common answers will probably be: musical talents, prayer, and preaching. Lead the discussion to include other talents common to your students’ age group. Examples might be: testifying, showing kindness to new students, the ability to greet or talk to people, giving to the needy, or visiting the sick. Show how all can develop their talents along these lines.
- In the Biblical parable, it is apparent that the servants did more than just put their talents out to the exchangers, or to gain interest. How do you suppose the servants increased their talents?
Response: There is no direct answer given to this in Scripture, but undoubtedly your students will conclude that the servants must have been diligent and alert to every possible way to increase their talents. Perhaps they went to the market and bought and sold for a profit. No doubt they did some careful research and invested wisely, knowing they were using their master’s money.
- How can our God-given talents be improved? Give an example.
Response: Let students discuss their answers. They should realize that talents do not improve by themselves, but by hard work, self-discipline, and practice. An obvious example is a musician who will seek out the best teachers available, study hard, and practice diligently.
- Put yourself in the place of an office manager: There is a job to be done and you must decide which worker should be given the job. What would you base your decision on? Which of these criteria could be applied to the receiving of spiritual abilities and talents?
Response: Your students will bring out capability, diligence, dependability, thoroughness, etc. They should conclude that all of these could apply to the receiving of spiritual abilities and talents.
- What is required of us in order to receive a reward for the use of our talents? What are the results if we do not use them?
Response: Discuss the students’ answers. God rewards according to faithfulness, and He requires us to be faithful, resourceful, and diligent in what He has given us to do in His work. The results of not meeting the requirements will be a decline in our spiritual condition, and if unrepented of will in the end bring judgment and eternal damnation.
- How does one qualify to have his talents used in the work of the Lord?
Response: Stress the importance of consecrating such talents to God, which would include living by the guidelines set up by those overseeing God’s work. Ask your students how the call placed upon one’s life will be commensurate with the talents he allows God to use.
- How does a person show by his life that he is consecrated and faithfully pursuing the course the Lord has laid out for him? What are some of the ways the Lord’s work is benefited when this is done?
Response: Suggestions offered may include: honoring those who do the Lord’s work and not being critical of them, and supporting the work by tithes and offerings. We can also show our respect by taking an active part and being faithful in living up to our privileges in every phase of the work of God. Not only is the Lord’s work being accomplished, but the person who does these things is an example and inspiration to the new converts, and the Body of Christ is built up and encouraged. Also, his personal faith is increased because he obeyed the Lord.
Write one of the following questions on a chalkboard, flipchart, or overhead transparency:
What talents and abilities can be used for the Lord?
What work is common to all Christians?
What work needs to be done to keep our church running?
Have students quickly suggest answers, and make a list of the students’ responses.
Have the students evaluate how much work they do for the Lord by making circle or pie charts, listing their daily or weekly activities. Students can take their charts home to pin up in their rooms as a reminder for improvement.
Distribute 3” x 5” cards to the students and ask them to finish the following sentence (or a sentence of your choice): “If I were to take this lesson seriously, I would have to . . .”
Bring some objects to class which suggest ways we might be able to work for the Lord: a broom, a church invitation, a piece of music, etc. It might be interesting to include some more obscure items and ask the students to figure out how they might be used: keys to a car (visitation), a ballpoint pen (card to a shut-in), etc.
Have the students make a recruiting poster asking people to join God’s service. They could stress one of the following points:
Why it is necessary for people to join God’s service.
The benefits of joining God’s service.
The qualities of a worker for the Lord.
Bring a paycheck to class. Discuss how this is the motivation which inspires many people to do their job. Discuss what the “paycheck” will be for work that is done for the Lord.
Bring a merit badge, trophy, or plaque which gives commendation for a job accomplished or done exceptionally well. Discuss the fact that rewards for doing the Lord’s work may not be tangible, but they are real and lasting.