1. CALLED FOR SERVICE
a. What parable did Jesus present in connection with His return? Matthew 25:13–15.
“The man traveling into a far country represents Christ, who, when speaking this parable, was soon to depart from this earth to heaven. The ‘bondservants’ (RV), or slaves, of the parable, represent the followers of Christ. . . .
“Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service—service to God and to their fellow men.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 325, 326.
b. With what were the talents compared, and how are they significant? 1 Corinthians 12:7–11.
“All gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual . . . are to be employed in Christ’s service. In becoming His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellow men.”—Ibid., p. 328.
2. A RIGHT USE OF ENTRUSTED GOODS
a. In view of the seriousness of our times, what should we learn from Christ’s parable about the use of the talents entrusted to us? Matthew 25:16–18.
“The question that most concerns us is not, How much have I received? but, What am I doing with that which I have? The development of all our powers is the first duty we owe to God and to our fellow men. No one who is not growing daily in capability and usefulness is fulfilling the purpose of life. In making a profession of faith in Christ we pledge ourselves to become all that it is possible for us to be as workers for the Master, and we should cultivate every faculty to the highest degree of perfection, that we may do the greatest amount of good of which we are capable.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 329, 330.
b. What can be achieved by a right use of our gifts? Matthew 25:19, 20, 22.
“[The Lord] does not supernaturally endow us with the qualifications we lack; but while we use that which we have, He will work with us to increase and strengthen every faculty. By every wholehearted, earnest sacrifice for the Master’s service our powers will increase. While we yield ourselves as instruments for the Holy Spirit’s working, the grace of God works in us to deny old inclinations, to overcome powerful propensities, and to form new habits. As we cherish and obey the promptings of the Spirit, our hearts are enlarged to receive more and more of His power, and to do more and better work. Dormant energies are aroused, and palsied faculties receive new life. . . .
“Through faith in the power of God, it is wonderful how strong a weak man may become, how decided his efforts, how prolific of great results. He who begins with a little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what he knows, while seeking diligently for further knowledge, will find the whole heavenly treasure awaiting his demand. The more he seeks to impart light, the more light he will receive. The more one tries to explain the word of God to others, with a love for souls, the plainer it becomes to himself.”—Ibid., pp. 353, 354.
3. GRATEFUL OR GRUMBLING?
a. How was the unfaithful servant reproached for having misused his talent, and why is such an attitude a warning for us? Matthew 25:24–28.
“There are many who in their hearts charge God with being a hard master because He claims their possessions and their service. But we can bring to God nothing that is not already His. . . . All things are God’s, not only by creation, but by redemption. All the blessings of this life and of the life to come are delivered to us stamped with the cross of Calvary. Therefore the charge that God is a hard master, reaping where He has not sown, is false.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 362.
b. How does Inspiration depict our tendency to complain and make excuses for ourselves, and why should we heed the Master’s earnest desire for every one of us before His return? Proverbs 30:15, 16; Isaiah 29:24.
“Fretting, faultfinding, and making strong statements must be given up. What time have you set to gain the victory over your perverse will and the defects in your character? With the advancement you now make, your probation may close before you have made the determined efforts essential to give you the victory over self. You will, in the providence of God, be placed in positions where your peculiarities, if existing, will be tried and revealed.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 341, 342.
“Many decide to serve themselves and Satan by not making determined efforts to overcome their defects of character. While many are petting sinful propensities, expecting to be overcomers sometime, they are deciding for perdition. . . . In the name of Jesus Christ you may be victorious even now ‘in this thy day’ (Luke 19:42). Do not plan and study for self. You cannot be wholly the Lord’s while encouraging any degree of selfishness. Such great love as the Redeemer has shown you should be received with great humility and continual rejoicing. In order to be happy, you must control your thoughts and words. It will require a masterly effort on your part; nevertheless it must be done if you are to be the acknowledged children of God. Be not weary in your efforts. Satan is battling for your souls, and he must be disappointed.”—Ibid., p. 344.
4. UNMASK THE DECEPTION AND FLEE FROM IT!
a. How does the Son of God’s example refute the false accusations of the archenemy of our souls? Genesis 3:4, 5; Philippians 2:5–8.
“Satan led men to conceive of God as a being whose chief attribute is stern justice—one who is a severe judge, a harsh, exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments upon them. It was to remove this dark shadow, by revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that Jesus came to live among men.”—Steps to Christ, p. 11.
“Satan represents God’s law of love as a law of selfishness. He declares that it is impossible for us to obey its precepts.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 24.
“Could our eyes be opened, we should see forms of evil angels around us, trying to invent some new way to annoy and destroy us. And we should also see angels of God guarding us from their power; for God’s watchful eye is ever over Israel for good, and He will protect and save His people, if they put their trust in Him. . . .
“Said the angel, ‘Remember, thou art on the enchanted ground.’ I saw that we must watch and have on the whole armor and take the shield of faith, and then we shall be able to stand, and the fiery darts of the wicked cannot harm us.”—Early Writings, p. 60.
b. What reveals God’s eager willingness to help us overcome our defects and slothfulness? Psalms 20:1, 2, 7–9; 94:17, 18.
“Every impulse of the Holy Spirit leading men to goodness and to God is noted in the books of heaven.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 361.
“The Lord desires His people to reach the highest round of the ladder that they may glorify Him by possessing the ability He is willing to bestow. Through the grace of God every provision has been made for us to reveal that we act upon better plans than those upon which the world acts. . . .
“Those who have not a large endowment of gifts need not become discouraged. Let them use what they have, faithfully guarding every weak point in their characters, seeking by divine grace to make it strong.”—Ibid., p. 358.
5. VICTORIOUS LABORERS WITH GOD
a. As we prepare for our Lord’s return in full surrender to His service, what is our main interest, and His? Titus 2:13, 14; Luke 17:10; Psalm 145:10–12.
“When the Lord takes account of His servants, the return from every talent will be scrutinized. The work done reveals the character of the worker.
“Those who have received the five and the two talents return to the Lord the entrusted gifts with their increase. In doing this they claim no merit for themselves. Their talents are those that have been delivered to them; they have gained other talents, but there could have been no gain without the deposit. They see that they have done only their duty. The capital was the Lord’s; the improvement is His. Had not the Saviour bestowed upon them His love and grace, they would have been bankrupt for eternity.
“But when the Master receives the talents, He approves and rewards the workers as though the merit were all their own. His countenance is full of joy and satisfaction. He is filled with delight that He can bestow blessings upon them. For every service and every sacrifice He requites them, not because it is a debt He owes, but because His heart is overflowing with love and tenderness.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 360, 361.
“Our heavenly Father requires no more nor less than He has given us ability to do. He lays upon His servants no burdens that they are not able to bear. ‘He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust’ (Psalm 103:14). All that He claims from us we through divine grace can render.”—Ibid., p. 362.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What is often misunderstood about God’s purpose in giving talents?
2. Although you may be weak and faulty, what is God’s plan for helping you?
3. Compare the servant with one talent to typical human behavior of today.
4. How can we bypass the enemy’s strategy to try to block our sanctification?
5. Explain how we can gain the victory to become real, active agents for God.