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Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

For today’s devotion, we focus on this Sunday's Gospel—the parable of the talents—and read an excerpt from Life of Jesus: Parables.

Scripture Readings

Zephaniah 1:7–16
Psalm 90:1–12
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
Matthew 25:14–30

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.

Introduction

God calls us to do good works and serve Him. Though we daily stumble in doing this, we take comfort in knowing that it is not our works that determine our salvation. Our salvation depends only on our faith in Christ, which God gives to us as a gift.

Devotional Reading

In Matthew 25, Jesus gives us three distinct illustrations about the end times. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1–13) calls us to be prepared for the coming. Matthew 25:31–46 describes Judgment Day. The parable of the talents comes between them and shows us that as we wait for the Last Day, we need to be prepared, but also live lives of active service and stewardship. As we wait for Christ’s return, we carry on His work in this world.

The only preparations that Scripture speaks of [in the parable of the talents] are financial. The man entrusted his property to his servants so that they would care for it and improve it in his absence. He gave them different amounts “according to their ability.” He knew which servants could handle the responsibility and use the money wisely. Even the servant who failed in his responsibility had the ability to succeed.

We’re not told what the first two servants did with the money entrusted to them. Whatever it was, they were successful. When the master returned, they had doubled the money given to them. The third servant, however, did not invest the money given to him. He buried his master’s money to keep it safe. It was safe, but he did not use or improve the money given to him. 

It’s easy to focus on the failure of the third servant, but overall the master’s plan was a success. He began with eight talents and ended with fifteen. All of his servants had the ability to succeed. One failed, but the others were faithful and successful. He not only had more money, he had servants who had shown themselves to be faithful.

Our God has entrusted much to us. He has given us the gift of faith. He gives us all that we have and all that we are. He gives us spiritual gifts and our abilities. He gives us opportunities to serve Him. As in the parable, He expects us to use these gifts. We do not keep them to ourselves, but use them in His service.

In the parable, the master acted first. He chose the servants, and he gave them his money. Later, he rewarded them for their service, but they could not have done anything without his gifts and his trust. Our Christian life is similar. God has done everything for us. Most of all, He saved us through His Son’s death on the cross while we were helpless sinners. He has freely given us gifts, and He empowers us to use those gifts to serve Him. Only after He has given all of this to us does He ask us to serve Him. God’s gifts always come first and are always greater than our meager response.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are called to use the gifts that He has given to us. It may seem easy to hide God’s gifts among ourselves, but it is God’s will that we use them in service. He will aid and bless us, and He will make us good and faithful.

Devotional reading is adapted from Life of Jesus: Parables, pages 38–39 © 2000 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Hymn

Hymn is “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” hymn 508 from Lutheran Service Book. Video © 2017 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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