Each according to ability
Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.
- Matthew 25:14-15
This phrase “each according to his ability” catches our attention today. Each servant was entrusted with a different amount of wealth. Later in the story, each servant will be held accountable for what he did with these resources.
Why did Jesus include this nuance into the parable? If he had told this story with each servant receiving the same amount of money, he could have made a very similar point about accountability and stewardship.
Not everyone starts from the same starting place. Some of us stand taller than others. Some learn more quickly than others. Some of us have better memories. Some of us are born into wealth. None of this affects our responsibility to be faithful with what God entrusts to us.
Our Master expects each of us to invest our resources in ways that honor him. Some of us will receive more opportunity than others. Some of us will have to struggle harder. But God pays attention to all that we do and he cares greatly.
In fact, the care of the master can be seen in his decision to entrust different amounts of money with different servants. It can be a terrible and terrifying thing to be given more than you can handle. Slight stretches can help you grow; but stretch too far and you’ll rip, tear, and break. A master who knows and cares about his servants won’t give them more than he knows they can handle.
Before we close, note that – though the master entrusts different amounts to each servant – each servant is entrusted with a significant amount of wealth. Our best estimates are that one bag of gold (or one “talent” according to some translations) is worth around $500,000. The servant with the least ability is still entrusted with a fortune. The same is true for us. Others may be entrusted with more, but what God has entrusted to us is still significant.
What affect does it have on the way you manage what the Lord’s entrusted to you when you see that some have more than you and others have less?