For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.

Matthew 25:14-15

We’ve all been at points in life where we wonder, “Do I have anything to offer?” Or “What difference can I possibly make?” God, in His greatness, has given everyone two specific gifts—at least one way in which to serve others, and at least one way in which to spread the Gospel. Some people are more public in what they are able to offer. Some people, like athletes, actors and politicians have pulpits that reach millions of people. They have the ability to influence large swaths of society. Most of us will never have that kind of reach. Sometimes I wonder why famous people don’t use their influence to tell kids to study hard in school, or for people just to be nicer to one another. It seems that often we hear of big personalities getting caught in scandals or being in the news for bad decisions, or holding out for a better contract or declaring themselves to be the greatest of all time. That’s a little judgmental on my part. So let’s leave that there.

In these two verses from the Parable of the Talents (which I quote often on the Prayer Team as it is the single greatest inspiration for my life), we read about a man going on a journey who “entrusted” his property to three servants. The word choice here is interesting, in that he didn’t “give” the servants his property. Rather, he entrusted it to them. He didn’t tell them what to do with it, but there was an expectation that one day he would return from his journey and see what they did. The word “journey” is also important. The man wasn’t moving away and never coming back. He was going on a journey, and when we say we are going on a trip, or a vacation, there is the implied meaning that we will return from that trip.

This is important for us as Christians, to realize that whatever we have been given that is from God is not an entitlement, but a blessing. It is also not a gift, but a loan. God has blessed us with this day, as an example. Today will not repeat itself. There are things on this day that we might do on another day—for instance, I will drive today, and I will drive tomorrow, as I drove yesterday. But this day in its totality will never repeat itself. The confluence of circumstances in my life today will never repeat the same way again. So, we have to ask ourselves, what do I intend to do with the unique day with which I have been blessed? Perhaps today is a day of rest, nothing wrong there, we need to rest, we should rest one day a week. In fact, that is a commandment, not a suggestion, and I am guilty of not following that one for sure. But every day can’t be a rest day. What other opportunities are there today? What opportunities for work, for interpersonal connections, what opportunities are there to serve and to help someone? What opportunities are there to encourage someone else? If we see today as a blessing from God, then we naturally look for opportunities to thank God and these come in how we represent Him to others. We’ve been entrusted this day, we’ve been blessed with this day, and so we should evaluate how we can glorify God in this day.

The man entrusting the talents gave a different amount to each of the three servants. A talent, back in the time of Jesus, was an amount of money one might expect to earn in ten years. So five talents was a lot of money, fifty years’ worth of income. If we suddenly found ourselves with that amount of money, imagine the possibilities. Start a company and earn even more money. And with the more money enlarge ourselves. Or take the more money and put it into the service of others. And where is the line, between what we keep for ourselves and what we do for others? That’s one of the challenges in life, to take what we’ve been entrusted and provide for our own subsistence but also to help others.

Let’s take the one who received one talent. One talent compared to five is small, but one talent, ten years’ worth of income, given to someone, is still a significant amount of money. The message here, in the distribution of the talents is that everyone receives something, no one receives nothing from God. And everyone will have at least one way they can glorify God with what they’ve been entrusted.

In Mark 12:41-44 (and also in Luke 21:1-4), we read the story of the widow’s offering:

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”

I’ve seen this scene depicted in different movies on the life of Jesus, often with the people in the temple ridiculing the woman for putting in nothing, compared to what others were contributing. In the eyes of Jesus, though, her contribution counted for more than the rest, because she put in everything she had. She gave from need, not from excess. She is the one who demonstrated the most faith, and the most love for God. This story, along with the Parable of the Talents, reveals to us that it is not how much we have that God is concerned with, but what we do with what we have. If we are the one with one talent, we shouldn’t be complaining why we don’t have five. We should see our one talent as a blessing. We should also know that the one with five talents has a lot more accountability before God for what he or she does with those five talents. When we embrace what we have, and stop wishing for what we don’t have, when we see everything we have as a blessing, this is what pleases God.

We each have something to offer today. It might be as simple as a smile, a warm greeting, holding the door open for someone, a gesture of encouragement, and this is in addition to opportunities to support our families, or work at our jobs. Some people don’t have jobs, some people live alone and don’t have families, but everyone has a smile, everyone has a divine imprint of goodness in them, with a potential to radiate that goodness through the smallest of gestures.

When we constantly arm ourselves for competition and everyone around seems like an enemy to be conquered, even the one with the “five talents” is going to fail. Because God is the embodiment of love, kindness, patience and goodness and we need to embody these things if we are going to make it to His heavenly kingdom.

I’m thinking as I’m writing this morning of a young woman with special needs who was killed recently, whom I wrote about last week in a special message along with a video about her life. What I saw in that video in her expression was love, kindness, goodness, beauty—I saw God there. And while I will wonder for the rest of my life which side of the judgment seat I’ll end up on, we don’t have to wonder for her. I met that young lady only once, but when someone asks what did someone with serious health issues contribute to the world, my answer is, she contributed the love, kindness and goodness that God finds beautiful. She reminds us that there is still innocence in the world that we miss out on when we make it all about competition. I know I’ll watch that video again and again, and use her story, as well as the smiles of her parents as motivation to use what I have in whatever way I can to bring a presence of God into the world. Each one of us has the ability and the opportunity to do that—some have more opportunity and some less, but we all have something to give, something of ourselves and something of God to offer the world.

Have mercy on me, O God. Have mercy on me.
I have discolored Your image and broken Your commandments. All my beauty is destroyed and my lamp is quenched by the passions, O Savior. “But take pity on me,” as David sings, and “restore to me Your joy.”
(Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, Ode Seven, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Each of us has something to offer, in our life and on this day. Look for your opportunity to glorify God in this day with which He has blessed us!


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder