We all are gifted. Talents are natural and normal. Talents are gifts that need to be put into action. There are many talents, many more than we usually perceive. Talents are not confined to special gifts and qualities in art and music, in the natural sciences, and in technology and economics.
There is a talent for uniting or networking people, for perceiving needs of others at the right moment, for patient endurance and courageous living. There is a talent for beautifying dull surroundings, for listening attentively and constructively, for courage, and for straightforward thinking.
All these talents are precious, unique, important, indispensable. If you look at our world as a web of qualities, you could say that without each thread woven into it you wouldn't have a strong net supporting the movement of life, cushioning the shock waves of daily activities, and backing up good moves.
"A talent is forged in the quiet, a character in the stream of the world," wrote German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. And indeed, there is quiet nurturing needed for a talent - but also the expression of this talent in life. This truth, and much deeper layers of it, were voiced some 2,000 years ago by Jesus. And the truth he was conveying was wrapped in a parable.
The parable tells of a man who disperses his belongings to three servants, one receiving five; the second, two; the third, one talent - a monetary unit in Galilee in Jesus' time. The owner returns and realizes that two servants have doubled the goods by trading with the talents, while the third one left the talent unused, returning it to the owner with no increase. The owner says to the two active servants:
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
The story continues: "Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man ... I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents" (Matt. 25:21, 24-28).
To me, Jesus wasn't talking about shares and bonds but about qualities and God. His teaching speaks to people questioning whether they have good qualities or any talents at all, or whether they are worth anything. The bottom line of Jesus' teaching is that each of us is given talents. We are all gifted.
The number of talents doesn't matter; the talent matters. Both the servant with two talents and the one with five talents had their gain doubled.
But if we don't use the talents, they are lost.
Jesus had this practical advice for us: It is paramount to understand where the talents come from. Talents are from God, Love, and are to be used in Love's service. Note that at the end of the parable the one unused talent is not taken back by the owner but rather given to the one with the 10 talents. Evidently the owner never wanted the talents back; they were designed to be used and cherished by the ones who received them.
So here is the blessing of living: Those who most diligently use their gifts in the service of others, gain the most out of them for themselves.
To do good to all because we love all, and to use in God's service
the one talent that we all have,
is our only means of adding
to that talent and the best way
to silence a deep discontent
with our shortcomings.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)