“Whoever has received for the good of others the ability to preach and teach, and does not use it, will lose that ability”

In the parable of the talents the Master entrusted money to his servants and then set out on a journey. This was to help us understand how patient he is, though in my view this story also refers to the resurrection. Here it is a question not of a vineyard and vine dressers, but of all workers. The Master is addressing everyone, not only rulers, or the Jews.

Those bringing him their profit acknowledge frankly what is their own, and what is their Master’s. One says: “Sir, you gave me five talents; another says; You gave me two,” recognizing that they had received from him the means of making a profit. They are extremely grateful, and attribute to him all their success.

What does the Master say then? “Well done, good and faithful servant” (for goodness shows itself in concern for one’s neighbor). “Because you have proved trustworthy in managing a small amount, I will give you charge of a greater sum: come and share your Master’s joy.”

But one servant has a different answer. He says: “I knew you were a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not winnowed; and I was afraid, and hid your talent.” “Here it is—you have back what belongs to you.”

What does the Master say to that? “You wicked servant! You should have put my money in the bank,” that is, “You should have spoken out and given encouragement and advice.” “But no one will pay attention.” “That is not your concern. You should have deposited the money” he says, “and left me to reclaim it, which I should have done with interest,” meaning by interest the good works that are seen to follow the hearing of the word. “The easier part is all you were expected to do, leaving the harder part to me.”

Because the servant failed to do this, the Master said: “Take the talent away from him, and give it to the servant who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has more will be given, and he will have enough and to spare; but the one who has not will forfeit even the little he has.”

What is the meaning of this? That whoever has received for the good of others the ability to preach and teach, and does not use it, will lose that ability, whereas the zealous servant will be given greater ability, even as the other forfeits what he had.

St John Chrysostom

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2 Responses to “Whoever has received for the good of others the ability to preach and teach, and does not use it, will lose that ability”

  1. doug says:

    How do you think this injunction to teach and preach according to one’s gifts relate to James’ warning that “not many should become teachers”? I realize these commands are not contradictory at the scale of the Body — the few who should teach must, and the many who should not teach must not — but how does one discern these matters personally?

    I ask this question especially from the perspective of being a doctrinal dissident with respect to the church I belong to (a situation not uncommon among readers of this blog, I’m sure). What if I lead someone astray with my “eclectic” theology? What if I undermine other teachers and cause division? Surely a case can be made for serving silently, for praying in one’s closet rather than taking the pulpit.

    But is the reluctance to teach for fear of “bring judged more strictly” just another way of saying “I knew you were a hard man, so I hid your talent”?

    I’d be interested in hearing from others who have wrestled with this question.


  2. myasceticnotebook says:

    All boats can tread the waters, but not all boats can lead the fleet.


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