Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 25: Talents
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The master does not deny the charge of the wicked
servant, unjust as it is; but taking him on his own ground
he shows that his conduct is without excuse. Ways and
means had been provided whereby the talent might have
been improved to the owner's profit. "Thou oughtest," he
said, "to have put my money to the exchangers, and then
at my coming I should have received mine own with usury."
Our heavenly Father requires no more nor less than
He has given us ability to do. He lays upon His servants
no burdens that they are not able to bear. "He knoweth
our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." Ps. 103:14.
All that He claims from us we through divine grace can
"Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much [p. 363] required." Luke 12:48. We shall individually be held
responsible for doing one jot less than we have ability to
do. The Lord measures with exactness every possibility for
service. The unused capabilities are as much brought into
account as are those that are improved. For all that we
might become through the right use of our talents God
holds us responsible. We shall be judged according to what
we ought to have done, but did not accomplish because we
did not use our powers to glorify God. Even if we do not
lose our souls, we shall realize in eternity the result of
our unused talents. For all the knowledge and ability that
we might have gained and did not, there will be an eternal
But when we give ourselves wholly to God and in our
work follow His directions, He makes Himself responsible
for its accomplishment. He would not have us conjecture
as to the success of our honest endeavors. Not once
should we even think of failure. We are to co-operate
with One who knows no failure.
We should not talk of our own weakness and inability.
This is a manifest distrust of God, a denial of His word.
When we murmur because of our burdens, or refuse the
responsibilities He calls upon us to bear, we are virtually
saying that He is a hard master, that He requires what He
has not given us power to do.
The spirit of the slothful servant we are often fain to
call humility. But true humility is widely different. To be
clothed with humility does not mean that we are to be
dwarfs in intellect, deficient in aspiration, and cowardly in
our lives, shunning burdens lest we fail to carry them
successfully. Real humility fulfills God's purposes by
depending upon His strength.
God works by whom He will. He sometimes selects
the humblest instrument to do the greatest work, for His [p. 364] power is revealed through the weakness of men. We have
our standard, and by it we pronounce one thing great and
another small; but God does not estimate according to our
rule. We are not to suppose that what is great to us must
be great to God, or that what is small to us must be small
to Him. It does not rest with us to pass judgment on our
talents or to choose our work. We are to take up the
burdens that God appoints, bearing them for His sake,
and ever going to Him for rest. Whatever our work, God
is honored by wholehearted, cheerful service. He is
pleased when we take up our duties with gratitude, rejoicing
that we are accounted worthy to be co-laborers with
The Talent Removed
Upon the slothful servant the sentence was, "Take
therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which
hath ten talents." Here, as in the reward of the faithful
worker, is indicated not merely the reward at the final
judgment but the gradual process of retribution in this life.
As in the natural, so in the spiritual world: every power
unused will weaken and decay. Activity is the law of life;
idleness is death. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given
to every man to profit withal." 1 Cor. 12:7. Employed to
bless others, his gifts increase. Shut up to self-serving
they diminish, and are finally withdrawn. He who refuses
to impart that which he has received will at last find that
he has nothing to give. He is consenting to a process that
surely dwarfs and finally destroys the faculties of the soul.
Let none suppose that they can live a life of selfishness,
and then, having served their own interests, enter into the
joy of their Lord. In the joy of unselfish love they could
not participate. They would not be fitted for the heavenly [p. 365] courts. They could not appreciate the pure atmosphere of
love that pervades heaven. The voices of the angels and
the music of their harps would not satisfy them. To their
minds the science of heaven would be as an enigma.
In the great judgment day those who have not worked
for Christ, those who have drifted along, carrying no
responsibility, thinking of themselves, pleasing themselves,
will be placed by the Judge of all the earth with those
who did evil. They receive the same condemnation.
Many who profess to be Christians neglect the claims of
God, and yet they do not feel that in this there is any wrong.
They know that the blasphemer, the murderer, the adulterer,
deserves punishment; but as for them, they enjoy the
services of religion. They love to hear the gospel preached,
and therefore they think themselves Christians. Though
they have spent their lives in caring for themselves, they
will be as much surprised as was the unfaithful servant in
the parable to hear the sentence, "Take the talent from
him." Like the Jews, they mistake the enjoyment of their
blessings for the use they should make of them.
Many who excuse themselves from Christian effort
plead their inability for the work. But did God make them
so incapable? No, never. This inability has been produced
by their own inactivity and perpetuated by their deliberate
choice. Already, in their own characters, they are realizing
the result of the sentence, "Take the talent from him."
The continual misuse of their talents will effectually quench
for them the Holy Spirit, which is the only light. The
sentence, "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness,"
sets Heaven's seal to the choice which they
themselves have made for eternity.
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