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The Talents

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Marvel (4-5)Year 1Unit 2 (Marvel at God’s Mercy)Session 5

The Talents

Jesus teaches us to use everything he's given us to serve him.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Sense our responsibility to use our time and abilities to serve God.
  • Describe at least one way we can use our time and abilities to serve God.
  • Be aware of—and thankful for—all God gives us.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

As always, the context in which Jesus tells a parable helps us understand its meaning. This parable is one of three in Matthew 25 about preparing for the judgment at the end of time. In this parable Jesus teaches us that one of the criteria will be how we have used the gifts we've been given.

This is often called "the parable of the talents" because of the English word often used to translate the large amount of money that each one of the servants receives. The problem is that people think of the word talent in the usual sense of natural endowments or aptitudes. While that may be part of what Jesus means, it's too restrictive. The NIV helps us grasp the original meaning of the word by translating it as "bags of gold." A talent is simply a very large amount of money.

Again a story of threes. The wealthy landlord, going away, entrusts some of his great wealth to three servants. One receives five talents, another two, and the third, only one. Notice that each is given an amount "according to his ability." The smarter or more industrious the servant, the more he is entrusted with. The first two servants invest the money and in both cases they double it. The third hides the money in a hole in the ground.

When the master returns, there is a great accounting. The first two servants bring out their ledgers and display healthy dividends. The third servant brings his dirty, soggy bag of gold and lays it before the master. His excuse? "I knew you were a tough master, and I didn't want to risk anything. So I hid it in the ground, and here it is, safe and sound."

The master is furious. "You wicked, lazy servant! You knew I was a tough master, did you? Then at least you could have deposited the money in the bank, and I would've gotten it back with interest."

This parable gives us a fascinating new image for God---the entrepreneur investor. God, our Creator and Redeemer, has made an investment in each one of us. The money given to each servant in the parable represents that investment. Our time, our goods, our abilities, our relationships, our occupations, our social and family roles, our life itself---these are the resources our master has invested in us. What will the return be?

Notice that each servant is given a huge amount of freedom in terms of how to invest the resources. God is looking for some kind of "kingdom return" on all the resources he's invested in us. The one thing we must not do is fearfully keep it all to ourselves---that is, hide our lives away with the idea that in the end we can present the soggy little bag of our life to God. God the investor will not stand for that.

Serving Jesus involves taking risks. It means being willing to invest our lives, our resources, our time, and our abilities into God's kingdom.

  • What do you think the master’s reaction would have been if the third servant had come back empty-handed after making an investment that failed?

  • How does this parable change your image of God?

  • When it comes to God’s kingdom, are you risk-averse or a risk-taker?

  • How do you feel about the first servant being given the money the third servant had failed to invest?

  • Be aware that schools and society in general tend to classify some children as “gifted” or “talented.” Such a classification of children can do great (even if unintended) emotional and spiritual damage. Make sure your class knows that each of us has been entrusted by God with gifts to use to serve him and his kingdom

  • Children this age will resonate with the idea of God as an investor and risk taker. Make sure they have a sense of the freedom and adventure of the Christian life.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • music smart
  • self smart
  • word smart

Welcome group members back to another session. Ask some specific questions about their week: How was school? Did you do anything special on Saturday? How’s your pet? The more you know about the kids in your group, the more personal your interaction will be each week. You may want to keep notecards with information you know about each child in your group (number and names of siblings and parents or guardians, address, phone and email, pets, sports, school, and so on).

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