“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.” (Matthew 25:28 KJV)
This is probably the last thing that anyone wants to hear when the day of accounting comes. Faithful stewardship! They try to drill it into our minds. Yet, it was not the poor spending habits of this steward that got him in trouble. It was not that he failed to get a better interest rate on his house nor that he should have bought a used chariot instead of new. It was not that the cost of his health insurance was ridiculous nor that he spent too much on his groceries. All too often we get in this two dimensional trap that trips us into management mode, and we tighten all the budgets least we be accused of unsightly lavish spending sprees. This master never even asked for his receipts!
Do you recall what this master did ask for that prompted this response? He wanted the entire talent back and then some. The others that were commended doubled the money. It appears that this master would have been satisfied with just the talent plus interest. In either case, a well prepared balance sheet complete with itemized receipts may not have helped any. When we say things like “this money is God’s and not mine”, would how the money is spent be the biggest factor? It may be that the biggest factor with this master is risk.
Risk is very easily translated to faith. He wanted these servants to reach out with what they were given and to expect returns. If this servant had done his level best with the one talent that he had and lost most (if not all) of it, then his own words could not have been used to condemn him. Interesting that the master actually listened to what this servant had to say as a zero risk (or zero faith) answer was what seemed to anger him most. There may have been mercy offered for effort that reflected risk (or faith) as even the sower of seeds did not collect from every seed sown (see Matthew 13:1-9). Interestingly enough even Potiphar and Pharaoh using only worldly wisdom became very rich men not by managing better, but by surrendering all.
“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41 KJV)