There are always multiple ways to read Jesus’ parables. Here’s one way to read this one.
This “Parable of the Talents” is not about cultivating talents like singing and dancing. A talent is unit of currency—a mind boggling amount of money, worth about 16 years of a living wage!
But it’s not about money either. The “money” here is God’s unconditional and extravagant love.
It’s about how we respond to the extravagant love flowing through us from God. Do we trustfully keep it flowing, or do we fearfully try to hoard it?
Love received remains love only when we let it flow. If we try to hoard it, it’s not love anymore, and we experience love’s relentless flow as rejection.
The faithful servants trustfully “invest” love, let it flow, and watch it multiply. When the master returns and praises them, he doesn’t ask for them to return anything. Instead he wants them to invest even more.
The unfaithful servant fearfully tries to hoard love and then rejects it—when the master returns, he tries to give it all back. He gets the response he expected, further rejection, because that was the only response he was open to receiving.
“For those who live in the confidence that God is trustworthy and generous, they find more and more of that generosity; but for those who run and hide under the bed from a bad, mean, and scolding God, they condemn themselves to a life spent under the bed alone, quivering in needless fear.” [Thomas G. Long, Matthew (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997), p. 283.]
So this isn’t just about what’s going to happen someday. It’s about what’s happening to us now. Do we live trustfully, letting love flow into us and through us? Or do we live fearfully, not letting love flow through us, and thus not even letting it flow into us? Whichever fundamental attitude we adopt, it seems to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.