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.’
There are likely very few Christians who have spent any time in the Bible who are not aware of the parable of the talents. As Jesus describes three men who are each given three different amounts of money, we see for ourselves something of the judgment to come. Some men will be found faithful, and that faithfulness will be judged by God relative to what God has given them. But some men will be found unfaithful.
It is the unfaithful servant who has my attention this morning. This man, like his other two companions, was given a particular amount of money, a particular responsibility, by his master. Unlike his brethren, this man refused to work to increase his master’s investment. It is not that this poor man tried to do something for his master and failed, he simply refused to try. And, when it came time for an accounting, the man found himself judged severely by his master.
There are certain doctrines that I love and yet I know to be dangerous. One such doctrine is that of the believer’s security in his or her salvation. I believe without a doubt that the Bible teaches us that no person can lose his or her salvation. Unfortunately, many of those in our church buildings take this to mean that no person who has walked an aisle or prayed a specific kind of prayer can ever be lost. So, we have in our church buildings a mass of people who have gone through religious motions without ever truly believing; yet, since we believe in the security of the believer, we are discouraged from questioning whether or not such a person is saved based on their fruit or lack thereof.
Now, revisit the parable. Jesus makes it plain in this parable that there is a way to guess as to a person’s spiritual state. He is not saying that a saved person loses that state of salvation, but he is telling us that we should look at more than some supposed spiritual experience at a youth camp in order to decide whether or not we believe a person to be saved. Jesus shows us that a person who has been truly saved, who is truly a part of God’s kingdom, will be a person who works with the gifts God has given him. The amount of success that each person has with his or her gifts will not necessarily be the same, as different people are given different gifts by God. But we who are truly saved are all gifted by God in one way or another, and we are, if we are saved, going to work to accomplish things that benefit God’s kingdom with those gifts.