November 17, 2002

Matthew 25:14-30

"[God's kingdom is] also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.

"After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his masters investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! Its criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

"'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'

[The Message]


1. From John Wesley's Notes on the New Testament:

30. Cast ye the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness -- For what? what had he done? It is true he had not done good. But neither is he charged with doing any harm. Why, for this reason, for barely doing no harm, he is consigned to outer darkness. He is pronounced a wicked, because he was a slothful, an unprofitable servant. So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation! There shall be the weeping -- Of the careless thoughtless sinner; and the gnashing of teeth -- Of the proud and stubborn. The same great truth, that there is no such thing as negative goodness, is in this chapter shown three times:

1. In the parable of the virgins;

2. In the still plainer parable of the servants, who had received the talents; and

3. In a direct unparabolical declaration of the manner wherein our Lord will proceed at the last day. The several parts of each of these exactly answers each other, only each rises above the preceding.

2. A great struggle for us is that of positive goodness -- letting goodness shine through, particularly when it is being challenged.

3. Sometimes, though, the best we can do is to refrain from evil - to decide to let it remain undone. To be active in the basic minimum of "do no evil" is not the same as to share in the unbounded "do good." Yet it has its own value. As you wrestle with the gifts you have received, may you find how not to use them as well as how to use them. In the midst of this exploration, trust the presence of forgiveness. Live boldly.

The first two recipients of "talents" had to find a way to use and not use that which had been given them. How do you invest responsibly in the current market? Do you go for the highest return, the safest return, the socially responsible return?

Here you are encouraged to invest boldly in socially responsible investments.

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