So, this master brings together three of his servants and gives each of them a bag of gold. The first two invest the gold and earn tidy returns on it. The third buries the money to keep it safe. After a while, the master calls the servants back and asks what they’ve done with his gold. The first two explain that they invested the money, and are happy to return it – double its original worth. The third guy says, “Listen, I was afraid of you and what you would do if I lost the money. So I buried it – and here it is, every penny just as it was when you gave it to me.” The master is very pleased with his first two servants, but kicks the third one to the curb, crying, “Get out of here, you lazy imbecile.”
Actually, that is a heavily paraphrased version of the story. If you think you’ve heard it before, you probably have – it is a famous parable from the gospel of Matthew.
Before today, I’d heard this parable literally dozens of times. I never really thought it was great shakes as parables go. Plus, being what is called “risk averse” when it comes to cash, I’ve always identified with the servant who buries the money – and I couldn’t really understand the master’s overreaction. I mean, what would happen if that poor fearful servant had actually lost his masters’ money? That would have been so much worse than returning exactly what he was given, wouldn’t it?
Today, I heard it differently.
Today, the person telling the story said quietly, right at the end, “Imagine. He was given a treasure and he buried it.”
Just like that, I finally GOT it.
We have, indeed, each been given a treasure – made up of our talents, skills, gifts, love, heart, etc. That treasure is intended to be used, grown, shared, expanded. Not hoarded. Not kept from proliferating and adding to the world’s good.