Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 25: Talents
Based on Matt. 25:13-30
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Christ on the Mount of Olives had spoken to His
disciples of His second advent to the world. He had
specified certain signs that were to show when His coming
was near, and had bidden His disciples watch and be ready.
Again He repeated the warning, "Watch therefore; for ye
know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man
cometh." Then He showed what it means to watch for
His coming. The time is to be spent, not in idle waiting,
but in diligent working. This lesson He taught in the
parable of the talents.
|Giving Account.—Davis Collection.|
"The kingdom of heaven," He said, "is as a man
traveling into a far country, who called his own servants,
and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he
gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to
every man according to his several ability; and straightway
took his journey."
The man traveling into a far country represents Christ, [p. 326] who, when speaking this parable, was soon to depart from
this earth to heaven. The "bondservants" (R.V.), or
slaves, of the parable, represent the followers of Christ.
We are not our own. We have been "bought with a price"
(1 Cor. 6:20), not "with corruptible things, as silver and
gold, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter
1:18, 19); "that they which live should not henceforth live
unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and
rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15).
All men have been bought with this infinite price. By
pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by
giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the
will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human
being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the
Lord's property. All are called to do service for Him,
and for the manner in which they have met this claim, all
will be required to render an account at the great judgment
But the claims of God are not recognized by all. It is
those who profess to have accepted Christ's service who in
the parable are represented as His own servants.
Christ's followers have been redeemed for service. Our
Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ
Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives
the law of service—service to God and to their fellow men.
Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception
of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for
others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The
law of service becomes the connecting link which binds
us to God and to our fellow men.
To His servants Christ commits "His goods"—something
to be put to use for Him. He gives "to every man
his work." Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven.
Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation [p. 327] of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us
in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated
on earth where we are to work for God.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent
especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy
Spirit. "To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to
another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of
healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of
miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of
spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the
interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and
the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He
will." 1 Cor. 12:8-11. All men do not receive the same
gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the
Spirit is promised.
Before He left His disciples, Christ "breathed on them,
and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." John
20:22. Again He said, "Behold, I send the promise of My
Father upon you." Luke 24:29. But not until after the
ascension was the gift received in its fullness. Not until
through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered
themselves fully for His working was the outpouring of
the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods
of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ.
"When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive,
and gave gifts unto men." Eph. 4:8, 7. "Unto every one of
us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of
Christ," the Spirit "dividing to every man severally as He
will." 1 Cor. 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ,
but their actual possession depends upon our reception of
the Spirit of God. [p. 328]
The promise of the Spirit is not appreciated as it should
be. Its fulfillment is not realized as it might be. It is the
absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so
powerless. Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or
acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the
presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched,
no sinner be won to Christ. On the other hand, if they
are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are
theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will
have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them
the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in
The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents
represented in the parable. It includes all gifts and endowments,
whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual.
All are to be employed in Christ's service. In becoming
His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that
we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and
ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellow
To every man God has given "according to his several
ability." The talents are not apportioned capriciously. He
who has ability to use five talents receives five. He who
can improve but two, receives two. He who can wisely use
only one, receives one. None need lament that they have
not received larger gifts; for He who has apportioned to
every man is equally honored by the improvement of each
trust, whether it be great or small. The one to whom five
talents have been committed is to render the improvement
of five; he who has but one, the improvement of one. God
expects returns "according to that a man hath, and not
according to that he hath not." 2 Cor. 8:12. [p. 329]
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