Christ Jesus' parable about the talents n1 - about the money entrusted to the three servants by their master, and what each one did with it - is direct and to the point. Two servants increased the talents given them and were commended. But one servant buried his talent for fear he might lose it.
n1 See Matthew 25:14-29.
As with so many of the Master's parables, the story can be read and studied at many levels, and its meaning can shift in emphasis according to the reader's individual need. Even while feeling dismayed about the treatment meted out to the servant who buried his one talent, I have been greatly helped by the message. It has acted as a goad, impelling me to assess my activities and the direction my life is taking.
On a number of occasions I have reached a crossroads where it has become clear that I should move into a new field of activity. When this has happened, I have found it necessary to review what I have to offer in the way of experience, ability, and qualities, and to be careful not to bury these gifts in diffidence or self-depreciation. When I have recognized their true worth and source, and seen that ability is not a personal possession but is bestowed by God on each of His children, I have been ready to listen to divine direction and respond.
One of the Bible's healing messages, taught and illustrated by Jesus, is that God and man are inseparable. As the perfect, complete image of his creator, man constantly expresses the limitless variety of God's qualities. He reflects in unbroken perfection the infinite nature and capacity of God. As we recognize and accept these spiritual facts, and become aware that each individual has an indispensable place in God's creation, the way opens up. This way may be unexpected, beyond what we believe possible. But in following it we are graced with the conviction that God is always in control, forever directing.
In the Bible, James tells us, ''Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.'' n2 How important it is to recognize and cherish these gifts and to see them as God-given! Then we see they are to be used in a way that blesses others as well as ourselves. In return we receive the benefit of other people's abilities and talents.
n2 James 1:17.
There's no need for jealousy. To understand that God is the only source of the good that man expresses puts life on a solid foundation that cannot be undermined by selfishness, insecurity, or self-condemnation. Acceptance of the completeness of God's creation, of the fact that every individual is essential in the divine order, destroys the inclination to be self-assertive or aggressive. The awareness that we're governed by our divine source fosters the desire to listen for and obey God's direction. It enables us to take God-impelled steps even if circumstances appear unfavorable or impossible.
Like the servants in the Bible story, we have a part to play in the development of our talents. They need to be used. If their worth is appreciated as a manifestation of man's spiritual nature, which reflects the infinite variety of God's goodness, the willingness to put them to good use will also be there. As Mary Baker Eddy n3 states succinctly in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''God is not separate from the wisdom He bestows. The talents He gives we must improve.'' n4 This is a task appointed by God, and we can fulfill it because the ability to do so also has its source in Him.
n3 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n4 Science and Health, p. 6. DAILY BIBLE VERSE A man's gift maketh room for him. Proverbs 18:16