THE GREATEST TALENT SHOW ON EARTH
Dr. Charles F. “Chuck” DeVane, Jr., Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
FEBRUARY 28, 2016
14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants 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. 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.
— Matthew 25:14-30, ESV
From the time of Ringling Brothers until now, the world has been inundated with talent shows. Some travel the country while others appear on our televisions. “American Idol” is finishing fifteen years of top ratings and in the two most influential English speaking nations, both “America’s Got Talent” and “Britain’s Got Talent” top the airwaves. There seems to be a lot of talent in the world.
There is a lot of talent in the church, too. Some of it is obvious, some of it gets hidden, and all of it is given by God to glorify God and do good to others. Like millions of viewers of those television talent shows, God is watching us to see how we use our talents. This reality is explained in one of the most comforting and frightening parables Jesus ever told.
The comfort comes with hearing God’s word utter some words God says to faithful servants, “Well done …, enter in.” The frightening part is when some servants are put “in that [other] place.” Paul wrote “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Like this parable of the Lord, he was pointing at the church. Perhaps people in the church today should tone up for the greatest talent show on earth. It is coming up soon and will be broadcast live, when Jesus Christ comes again.
Everyone’s Got Talent
A “talent” in Jesus’ day was a bag of coins of various weight and worth. The worth depended upon the weight and whether the coins were gold, silver, or other metals. The talents in this parable represented all of a certain man’s “property,” all he had to give. He gave it all away in various amounts to his servants, a great blessing. But, with great blessing comes great responsibility.
A “master” with “servants” was a common occurrence in the first century, as well as a perfect metaphor for Christ and the members of His church. The picture Jesus painted before He canvassed the cross and evacuated the tomb is relatively clear to see. Upon the completion of His first advent, Jesus went away, but He is coming back again. In the meantime, Christ has given His true value — the Spirit of God, the word of God, baptism and communion, the great commandment, the great commission, all of His promises and purposes — to every member of the church, true Christians and fake Christians. Upon the Lord’s return, He will judge each and every church member by what we have done, or failed to do, with the talents He has given to us. It will be the greatest talent show on earth.
Everyone’s got talent. That is, every one of us who have professed faith in the gospel and been baptized into the church. We are the “servants” of the “master” and we’ve got “talent” which we are blessed with by grace to use by faith and produce good works. How are you using the talent God has given to you?
Everyone’s Talent is Not The Same
Please consider my complete thought before judging me harshly for disagreeing with the Declaration of Independence. As a Christian and an observant human being, I do not believe “all men are created equal.” I am deeply convicted that all men and women should have equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But our Creator created us in decidedly different ways for deliberately different means.
God gave every human being different levels of intellect, physical abilities, facial appearances, and the genetic propensities to be healthy or sickly, skinny or stout, short or tall. One is not better than the other, but one is always different from the other. This is self-evident.
The same is true among the members of the visible kingdom of God on earth, the church. Some speak articulately, some speak softly or simply, while some are so silent about the gospel with life and lips that no one would ever know they profess faith in Jesus Christ. We sing together, on key and off key, and together make a joyful noise to the Lord, except for those who refuse to sing about their faith, inside or outside of church gatherings. We all serve, but who do we serve? The Lord, others, or only ourselves? It all depends upon whether or not the Lord’s talents are on display or hidden away.
A popular talk show host claims to have talent on loan from God. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I do know it is true for every member of Christ’s church. God’s Spirt and word are poured out in different sized bags upon all who identify as members of the kingdom of God. Do you use your church membership to enrich and expand the kingdom of God, do you use it to enrich yourself, or do you use it at all? One day you will have to put your talents on the table, and it will be the greatest talent show on earth.
Everyone Will Show Their Talents to God
Remember, every one of us has talent, and our talents are unequal. Some get five, some two, some only one. At the end of the day, the day of the Lord, the day between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ, it will be time for the talent show. God will call. We will show. Our hands will reveal what we have done with the talent God gave to us.
In the parable, the first and second servants hold different hands but receive the same reward. It seems like the master was not as interested in the talents and he was the servants. This means God does not want your talent, He wants you. He wants a relationship with you, He wants to bear fruit with you, He wants to spend eternity with you, and He wants you to have reward and rest with Him. Those who take whatever talent the Lord has given them and use them for His glory will hear these perfect words and find this perfect rest.
Those who do not will find something quite different at the end of their miserable little lives. Remember, “weeping and gnashing of teeth” represent an eternal punishment reserved especially for those who profess faith in Christ but do not practice it. It is the judgment of the nominal and hypocritical psuedo-Christian. In this parable they are called “wicked” and “slothful” and “worthless.” They were not saved by grace through faith in Christ. They were not actively engaged in the work of the church. Their lives, at the end of the day, will have been wasted, and Christ’s words to them will be harsh, horrible, and final.
“Well done” or “worthless,” what will it be when you appear on the greatest talent show on earth?
My favorite story from all the talents shows on earth is that of Susan Boyle. She was born on April Fool’s Day, offered a simple upbringing, and endowed with plain, even unattractive looks. In 2009, this native of Scotland made her appearance on “Britain’s Got Talent.” At first, people thought is was one of those joke segments where someone without talent was put on the stage to humiliate themselves and amuse the audience. But then she opened her mouth and floored the millions watching on British television, and millions more on You Tube, by singing a startling and superlative rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” She had talent, she was not afraid to use it, and now she has five albums and many other rewards to show for it.
Look around the church and you will see a host of simple Susans. Each one has some amazing talent given to them by the grace of God. Faith propels us to use our talent to touch others lives with the gospel and the word of God. Faithlessness hides them in the ground. God is watching.
Have faith in God. And, have a little faith in yourself. You are talented, you can make a difference in the lives of others, and you can gain a reward. Live with confidence as you look for the second coming of Jesus Christ. It will be the greatest talent show on earth.
Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org