Derek Prince - Use Your God-Given Talents and Gifts, Or You'll Lose Them
This is an excerpt from: Pressures, Tests & Challenges
So, that’s the ten virgins. Now we’ll come on to the next group, the servants with the talents. It’s from verse 14-30, quite long, 17 verses. For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents to another two and to another one, to each according to his own ability and immediately he went on a journey.
This is 'then' number twelve, if you’re following. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents, look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents, look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Then [this is 'then' number thirteen], then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant you knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed. Therefore you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has more will be given and he will have abundance, but from him who does not have even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Let me offer some comments. First of all, on the servants that made profit. The first and the second each gained one hundred percent. The one who had five gained five, the one who had two gained two. And the words of commendation to them were exactly alike. Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your lord. The Lord did not commend the five talent servant more than the two talent servant, which tells me that what He’s looking for, is increase. When the increase was proportionate in both, a hundred percent, he gave them exactly the same commendation. What He’s looking for, as I already said, is faithfulness rather than success. Each was rewarded with corresponding authority in Christ’s kingdom. In other words, the way we serve in this life will determine our position in the kingdom of God throughout eternity.
Now let’s take the lessons from the third unfaithful servant. First of all, he acted out of fear. Fear is not the right motive for serving the Lord. Love is the motive. Jesus said in John 14:23: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words. Don’t be motivated by fear. Let the love of Christ, as Paul says the love of Christ constrains us. That’s the only fruitful motivation for service. The second lesson is one which is very important for all Christians. Laziness is wickedness; you lazy and wicked servant.
You see, we all have a kind of religious set of values which is not always realistic. Most churches will not tolerate drunkenness, quite rightly. But many churches tolerate laziness. I believe actually, God’s condemnation of laziness is more severe than His condemnation of drunkenness. We’ve got people in our churches who really don’t do anything for God. They’re too lazy to read the Bible, too lazy to get up and pray, too lazy to go out to a street meeting. They just sit in the pew, and they’re nice to everybody, they do nobody any harm, they put some money in the collection. We don’t think about them as wicked, but Jesus does. He says laziness is wickedness.
Now then, Jesus said, You should have deposited the money with the bankers and you would have received interest. That to me is convincing that it’s not always sinful to receive interest. Jesus said you ought to have received it. I think the laws against usury in the Old Testament were when you borrowed or gave or lent to a fellow Jew. Then it would be wicked if he was in need to require interest on that loan. But if you lend to somebody who’s got a business, which is going to make profits, you are entitled to a legitimate share of his profit. That’s the way I understand it. Jesus certainly expected this servant, if he couldn’t do anything else, put the money in the bank. Open a savings account. What does that mean in terms for us? I’ll suggest this. To put the money in the bank means you have to say to yourself, Well, I don’t have a really strong ministry of my own but I’ve got this one talent I’ll invest it in the ministry of another.
Someone who has a ministry that’s approved, that’s bringing forth fruit in the kingdom, I’ll give him my contribution or her, or them. I’ll invest in them, I’ll put myself at their disposal. I’ll serve them. If it’s necessary I’ll lick envelopes. We don’t lick envelopes today, but whatever. I’ll make myself available to that ministry. And then when the Lord comes He’ll get His own with interest. But just to sit idle and say I only have one talent, there’s not much I can do. It’s so true psychologically, it’s the one talent person who fails. The man who had five talents was excited about it. He knew he’d do something. The man who had two talents was excited. The man who had one talent said, There’s not much I can do, so I’ll do nothing. That’s a terribly dangerous attitude. The next truth is not to use, is to lose, okay? Spiritual gifts God gives unconditionally. He never demands them back. But if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them.
God gave me a gift in the early 1970s, some of you are familiar with it. It’s faith for people whose legs are unequal. I have seen, I think, thousands of unequal legs made equal. Well, some of my good friends said to me: dear friend, they said, Listen, you’ve got a good reputation as a scholarly Bible teacher. Don’t spoil it by going around and kneeling in front of people and lengthening their legs. So I thought, maybe that’s good advice. I’ll pray about it. Well, when I prayed I felt this is what the Lord said to me, I’ve given you a gift, there are two things you can do. You can use it and get more or you can not use it and lose it. So I said, Lord, I’ll choose the first. That’s just an example, I very seldom use that gift today. It’s still there, but it’s been superseded by other things. But each one of you, dear brother or sister, you have a gift of some sort. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. If you use it, you’ll get more. The choice is yours.
Notice also that the rejection of this unfaithful servant was final. He was cast into outer darkness. That’s neither heaven nor earth nor hell. It’s a different place. Don’t let us get involved with that. And then where he went there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. We dealt with that, I will not go into that again. So we go on to a parallel parable, which is found in Luke 19, which is the parable of the minas. In the Old King James version it used to be called the parable of the pounds. There are some differences. In the parable of the minas in Luke 19, we won’t turn there, each of the ten servants received one mina, whereas in this parable that we’ve looked at each received according to his ability. Jesus knew how much He could trust each one with.
Now, one at the end gained ten minas. He made a ten-fold increase. The Lord said to him, Well done good and faithful servant. Have authority over ten cities. Another one gained five minas. And the Lord said to him, Have authority over five cities. But he didn’t say, Well done, good and faithful servant. He wasn’t on the same level as the man who had gained ten. And one, like the other parable, had gained nothing. He was called wicked, and his one mina was taken from him. Then let’s read the last verse of that in Luke 19. I want to read it because you wouldn’t believe it was there if I didn’t read it. Luke 19:27. You’ll remember that the citizens of this lord had said, We don’t want you, we don’t want you to rule over us, don’t come back. The Lord didn’t forget that.
So at the end of this parable He, Jesus, says: But bring here those enemies of mine who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me. I want to supervise their execution. Does that fit in with your picture of Jesus? We have all heard gentle Jesus meek and mild. That’s true, but it’s not the whole truth. He is God’s appointed judge. We’ll return to that later on in this series if you’ve got the courage to face it. So the one who gained nothing in the second parable was called wicked. His mina was taken away from him. He was exiled forever from the presence of the Lord.