Life on Loan

There is, or at least was, and I believe might now be again, a band named Sixpence None the Richer. They are plagued both with the typical rock band tendency to break up and reunite, and with a typically odd band name. The name has a point, though.

As the lead singer once explained it, “Sixpence None the Richer” references a story about a father (apparently a British one), who gave his young son a half-shilling coin, or “sixpence”. The son used the coin to buy a gift, which he then gave to his father. Though pleased that his son would want to give him a gift, the father realized that he was only getting back the sixpence that had belonged to him anyway; he was “none the richer”. Similarly, everything—everything—we have comes from God. Every moment of our lives, every resource, and every ability (or “talent”) exist only because of God’s creation.

This is what I believe Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25:14-30. I’ve often heard it referred to as “the parable of the talents”, but my Bible has a different heading for the section: “the parable of the loaned money”. See, the talents, which are literally large sums of money, were not the servants’ salaries or personal 401(k) plans. They belonged to the master, and remained “his possessions” which were simply “entrusted” to the servants until the master’s return (v. 14). The servants were given only what they could handle, “each according to his own ability” (v. 15), and were expected to use those talents to produce a return—and not just sit on the talent, unused.

Likewise, each of us has been given “talents” that we can use—or leave unused—for the Master’s kingdom. It might be something that we traditionally think of as talents, such as artistic ability; or it might literally be sums of money, and the ability to give. But it also includes such seemingly ordinary miracles as talking, or listening, or some other God-given ability—and remember, every ability is a God-given ability. We are all “talent”-ed.

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© 2010 by Kevin McConaghy. All rights reserved.