The Faithful Servant
Archpriest Alexander Shargunov
April 1, 2022
God has bestowed human beings talents entrusting with labor. He wills not the redundancy of us. All that we possess is received from Him. Nothing is of our own belonging except for sin. In Matthew’s Gospel it says that Lord Jesus Christ behaves amongst people as a man who, going into a far country, has called his servants and entrusted them with his property. When our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, He was like this man. Setting off on this path, He took care to provide His Church with everything necessary in the time of His absence. Lord Jesus Christ entrusted it with everything that He has, and to one He gave five talents, to another two and to another one each according to his strength.
The story in scripted in the Matthew’s Gospel is exemplary. A man travelling into a far country who called his own servants and delivered to them his goods. To one servant he gave five talents, to another, two and to the last, one talent according to their ability and straightway went away on his journey. Then the servant who had received the five talents went, traded and made other five talents. Likewise the one who had received two also gained other two. But the servant who had received one went, dogged in the earth and hid his lord’s money.
After a long time the lord of those servants come, and reckon with them. So he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, “Lord, you deliver to me five talents. Behold! I have gained beside them five talents more.” His lord said to him, “Well done, you are good and faithful servant. You have hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter you into the joy of your lord.”
The man who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you deliver to me two talents: behold! I have gained two other talents beside them.” His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter you into the joy of your lord.
Then he which had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed. I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth. Lo, there you have is yours.” His lord answered and said to him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed. You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. For to everyone that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. Cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew. 25:14-30)
People have various talents and obedience in Holy Church. All the gifts of Lord Christ are incalculably precious they were attained by His Blood. One talent is enough to live on this wealth for our whole life and for all eternity. But this talent must not be buried in the ground. By diligence and labor the Lord tells us we can achieve much in the spiritual life. The more gifts a person has, the more he must labor. From those who have received two talents, the Lord expects the use of two. If they labor on the strength of what they have been given, they will be received into the Heavenly Kingdom, although they did not do as much as others.
He who had only one talent turned out to be an unfaithful servant. There are undoubtedly many people who, having two or five talents, bury them in the ground. They have great talents and great opportunities. If he who had one talent will be so punished, how much greater a punishment will be given to those who had much but did not use it! However, it has long been observed that those who have the least talents in service to God do even less than their ability.
Some justify themselves, saying they have no chance to do what they seek. However, they are without the will of achieving potential outcomes and so there time is wasted. Indeed, their situation is sad, because, having just one talent which they should have taken great care of, they neglect it.
However, every gift implies responsibility. When it comes time for reckoning, the lazy servant justifies himself. Although he received only one talent, he must give account for it. No one is required to answer for more than he received, but we must give account for what we were given.
“Here is what is yours,” says the servant, returning his talent to the Lord. “Although I did not multiply it, as did the others, still, I didn’t reduce it” as if he wasn’t required to work. He admits that he buried his talent in the ground. He portrays it as if he is not to blame for this, but conversely, as if he deserves praise for his caution, for having avoided all risk. This man has the psychology of a cheap servant. “I was scared,” he says, “and so I didn’t do anything.” It’s not that fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom cheering the heart and inspiring humans to labors for the glory of God. It’s a despondent fear, which paralyzes the mind and will.
False concepts about God lead to an impious attitude towards Him. Whoever thinks it’s impossible to please God and therefore has no reason to serve Him, is without any deed in his spiritual life. He spoke every sham words about God. “I knew you,” he said, “that you are a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed,” while the whole earth is filled with His mercy. Not that He reaps where He did not sow He often sows where nothing is reaped. For He is the sun shining and the rain raining on the ungrateful and the wicked who in response say to Him as the Gadarenes: “Depart from us.” Wicked people usually thus place the blame for their sins and miseries on God, rejecting His grace.
The Lord calls him a wicked and slothful servant. Lazy servants are wicked servants. Not only will those who did evil be condemned, but those without good deed. Apostle James says “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) Those who relate to God’s work with negligence become close to those who do the work of the enemy.
The devil’s strategy and tactic towards mankind is to first create a void that could then be filled with blackness. As so much was just external piety in Holy Church, with the psychology of a servant having one talent, God allowed the invasion of our Fatherland by the atheistic ideology with all of its horrors. When people had enough of communism and the void emerged again, something happened to which we are witnesses today. In place of atheism, Satanism is coming with the approval of sin as the norm. Look at what is happening with our youth! Idleness opens the path to wickedness. When a house is empty, an impure spirit with seven evil spirits fills it. The enemy comes and sows tares while a man is sleeping.
The slothful servant is sentenced by Divine judgment to the loss of his talent. “Take therefore the talent from him” the Lord says, “and give it to him which has ten talents.” For to everyone that has shall be given and he shall have abundance. But from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has.
A talent is a weight of silver. It is money, which is just paper with something drawn on it. Or even if it is real silver or gold, it’s just a pile of shiny money and it doesn’t mean anything. It lies as dead weight until its released into income. The same thing happens with spiritual gifts. He who has not that is, who has it all, as if not having, does not use it for the purpose intended by God even what he has will be taken from him. This can apply to a man’s entire life when he lives as if he is not alive, as if his life does not belong to him. But those who diligently use the opportunity they have will be even more blessed by God. The more we do, the more we can do in the spiritual life. But whoever is not encouraged by the gift he has received loses it. He fades away, as if nothing is supporting the fire.
No one is bereft of talent, at least one. The holy fathers say that one talent is life and even not having any kind of special talent, we can give it to others: “Why did you not give your talent to others?” the Lord asks. “Then you would have received no less than he who has the most talents.”
In the end, God alone knows who has been given how many talents. Imagine a man who is smarter than everyone on earth, more brilliant than everyone in every sphere and his life boils with the brightest activity. But in fact, he does nothing other than bury his talent in the ground if he dedicates himself to purely earthly goals. The Lord witnesses that the widow in the Gospel, who put less in the Temple treasury than everyone else, put in more than all because in her last two mites she offered her entire life to the Lord. Many who are last will become first. Everything is determined not by our luck, but by our faithfulness, our sincerity and our giving of ourselves. What do the greatest external talents mean in comparison with the internal with humility, with meekness, with purity and finally with grace which immediately changes everything? “Lord!” The man says, “With the joy of gratitude to God and with hope in Him you deliver to me five talents. Behold! I have gained beside them five talents more.” Truly, the more we give to God, the greater debt we have in relation to Him for what He has given us, the more we are filled with gratitude to Him. We see the joy of those who come to the Lord and the joy of the Lord. It is the Pascha of the Lord and the joy of the Saints. Lord Jesus Christ’s martyrs, the monks and all the Saints show the Lord their wounds and labors as evidence of their fidelity to Him. “Show me your faith from your works,” says the Lord, and He will repay them with love.
The day of the Lord is coming soon and we will approach Him one by one. Those who are marked with the light of the face of the Lord will forever live according to His words. “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your Lord.”
The work which we do for God in the world is small, very small compare to the joy prepared for us. Truly, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man. The things which God has prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthian 2:9) This joy is the joy of the Lord, which He has obtain for us at the price of great works and sorrows. No one can return back from eternity to take what he forgot here on Earth and do what he did not do. Therefore, let us make haste to use the gifts we have received from God for acquiring eternal life.