Lesson Two – The Variables in a Christian’s Judgment

The Variables in a Christian’s Judgment

Lesson Aim:  To identify what the talents and minas represent in the parables and to understand the basis by which they are distributed to Christians.

Scripture:  Matthew 25:14-30.

Historical analysis for reading the parable.

Place:  At the temple in Jerusalem, Matt. 24:1; 26:1-5.

Occasion:  Jesus was teaching general lessons in and around Jerusalem about Judgment Day.

Time:  The Feast of Unleavened Bread preceding the last Passover before Jesus was crucified.

Audience:  General audience of Jews and proselytes; however, we understand Jesus was also finishing His apostles’ schooling.  Some of His teachings would later be recorded by the gospel writers with the aid of the Holy Spirit; therefore, He introduced Matthew and John to His material on Judgment.  Jesus was aware of the presence of the Pharisees and other sects.  The negative side of Judgment would mean condemnation unless they changed their minds about Him.  Many were present who believed He was the Messiah.  He would encourage them in the trials they would encounter before His promised second coming (Greek – Parousia).

Then there was Caiaphas, the high priest, and his political allies whom Jesus would want to irritate until they decided to request the Romans to kill Him.  His teaching about Judgment would perhaps appear to the crowds to indict the Jewish leaders.  Although these Sadducees claimed they did not believe in a spirit world they did decide to have Jesus killed.

Aim:  To show how God will base His decision on three variables about our stewardship on Judgment Day.  One, our own abilities and endowments, two, what God has given us to be stewards over, three, the gain we make for His kingdom and glory.

Scripture:  Luke 19:11-27.

Historical analysis for reading the parable.

Place:  Jericho, Luke 19:1.

Occasion:  Jesus had made several trips, or perhaps we should call them crusades, to Jerusalem over the past three and one half years.  The large crowds who were following Him seemed to think He would establish the kingdom of God at the upcoming Feast of the Passover, Luke 19:11.

Time:  Just prior to the Feast of Unleavened Bread preceding the last Passover before Jesus was crucified.

Audience:  General audience. See Audience under Matt. 25:14-30.

Aim:  Luke told us plainly why Jesus gave this parable.  “The people thought that the kingdom would appear at once.”  Verse 11.  Jesus wanted them to understand He would go away and return.  In the meantime the initiative for the gain in His kingdom would be in their hands.

Jesus may have had a second aim.  Today, Jesus has all power and authority in order to fulfill God’s purpose for creating mankind and the world.  Many people on earth reject His kingship but that does not matter.  He is still king and they will understand this fact when He returns.  This may have been His second point.  See Verse 27.


In our previous lesson we learned the judgment and final punishment of evil people belongs to God.  The Day of Judgment will be more than a day for condemning evil people.  It will be a time for rewarding faithful Christians.  In this lesson we want to show another reason why judgment belongs to God.  The more perfect understanding a Christian has of Judgment the better he or she can prepare for that day.  An important point to remember is there will be only two groups, faithful stewards who will receive rewards and the condemned.  The condemned will be those who were bad stewards and those who never accepted stewardship at all.  Please carefully read the lesson aim as it relates to these two parables in our text before we enter into the lesson.


God will use different base points for calculating the judgment of each individual steward.  These base points are variables; that is, they will vary for different Christians.  This is another reason why our Judge must be of a higher intelligence and character than mankind.  Judgment will be based upon a formula much too complicated for us.

For instance, one equation that God will use to reward, or condemn, His stewards can be identified as OA + T = G.  OA stands for “own ability,” T for talents,” and G for “gain.”  In the parables everybody had enough ability to receive at least one talent or mina.  In all cases gain was required.  It was not enough to return the same talent, or mina, a person had been allocated.

And to one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.  And the one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me; see, I have gained five more talents.’  Matt. 25:15, 20

Now, let us be as practical as possible in order to understand the basis for our own judgment on that Day.  Let us apply the terms used in the parable to Christian stewardship.  We will have no trouble understanding what is meant by our own ability.  Some may deny they have ability.  Jesus will disagree, and He will declare at Judgment we are accountable for our own abilities.  Ability could be our role in life.  For instance, a husband and wife have the God given ability to have and rear children for God’s eternal kingdom.  Another person may have the ability to make money.  Some Christians can speak publicly and some have the ability to teach.  The list is endless.

The talents and mina in the parables are sometimes identified as our native ability.  This is because of our general use of the word “talent.”  In the theater, talent may refer to one’s own native or learned ability.  This is not the meaning of talent in Jesus’ parable.

 Notice how the talents were allocated in differing amounts based upon the slaves own abilities.  See Matt. 25:15.  What then do the talents represent?  A quick answer could be whatever was needed to attain gain for the master.  God would provide the thing needed to be combined with the slaves’ own ability.  In spiritual application, since God wants a kingdom of sons and daughters we can conclude the talents He allocates to each Christian will help us bring Him these children.  We must properly combine our own abilities with whatever it is God allocates to us for His work.

The talents are the wherewith to expand God’s kingdom in both quantity and quality.  They alone will not cause this expansion but the talents plus our own abilities can bring about God’s desire.  The talents represent whatever comes from God that can be used to bring about gain for His kingdom; therefore, the talents represent such things as the word of God.  Truth about the reality of life in Christian hands can bear fruit for God.  The “in Christ” realm God established for Christians by the love and work of Jesus can be thought of as a “talent,” as the word is used in Jesus’ parable.  This realm maintains an “open border” with heaven for faithful spiritual Christians (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 9: 23).  Our fellowship with the Holy Spirit, who is our “from inside out” encourager belongs on our list of talents. (Eph. 3:16).  The church functioning as the body of Christ provides a niche in which our work blends with others to glorify God (I Cor. 12:18-20).  Membership is another divine gift included in “things given” (talents) by God according our own abilities.

In fact, the talents in Jesus’ parable represents anything God gives Christians to bring more children to glory (Heb. 2:10).  A Christian may have the ability to speak and an education to understand words.  This is not enough.  God must give him or her a message to preach and teach.  It was God who gave preachers and teachers the new “in Christ” realm for our sanctification.  He desires us to offer it to others in the name of Jesus.  The new birth even falls into the category of talents because it is something Christians are authorized to offer to people with “messed up lives.”  See Mark 16:15-18.

Every human being will have a “messed up life” after they mature to the point where, with their memory and conscience working in conjunction with their knowledge of good and evil, they hold “mind court” on themselves.  See Gen. 3:22; Rom. 2:14, 15; 3:23.  A guilty conscience disintegrates a person.  It takes the blood of Jesus to relieve him or her of guilt of the sins of which they have convicted themselves (Heb. 9:9; 10:1, 2).  Guilt robs people of our righteous view of our “self.”  Since we have an inherent need to be righteous, and this is on the same “need level” as our need for food and water, guilt messes us up.  See Matt. 5:5, 10.

Notice in the parables how different amounts of talents, or mina, were allocated based upon the slaves’ own abilities.  Christians are slaves to Christ and God (Rom. 6:22; I Cor. 7:22, 23).  Does God give more of the Word, or church, to one member over another?  Yes, in a way.  The Word is the same but let us consider a person with enough of his or her own ability to obtain five talents.  Let us assume their “own ability” is to teach.  Furthermore, they have trained themselves well and at the same time they have grown spiritually.  God adds the Word.  They have more of God’s Word because they are able to understand it more both intellectually and spiritually (II Cor. 3:18).  They are capable of offering more of the blessings from God’s Word to others because they communicate more efficiently and they reflect more of the glory of Christ.  In short, they may be more effective as salt and light than a one talent person (Matt. 5:13-16).

Another person’s own ability is to speak well.  What does he or she speak?  Suppose God gives a Christian five talents because of his or her “own ability.”  Their gain will be produced by their own ability plus the talents God allocates to him or her.  This person’s judgment equation will be OA + T = G.  God, and God alone, has the information and character to process this equation for each of us.  May God have mercy upon us if there is no gain either in quantity or quality!  The mercy factor will enter in but only if we show mercy (James 2:12, 13).

Let us consider Christians who received two talents.  Again they were given to them based upon their own abilities.  Let us suppose in their case they had the ability to make money.  Money alone will not make the kingdom grow.  God will give something.  Keep in mind “something” is represented by the talents in the parable.  A Christian who has the ability to earn money needs to function in the body of an evangelistic church.  God allocates him or her membership in the church of Christ in which they use their ability to make money (Rom. 12:8).  The person’s own ability which is “money in the hand” will not produce gain in and of itself.  His or her money, plus the body of Christ can bring gain for God’s kingdom.

The abilities, talents and gain are continuously changing – they are variables.  This is not a one-time “hand out” happening.  It can be computed at any one point in a Christian’s life; however, on Judgment Day the computation of the three variables will be computed by God.  The old axiom that “if you don’t use your abilities you will lose them” is not an old wives tale.  It is a principle of life.

I tell you, that to everyone who has shall more be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away.  Luke 19:26, 27

The judgment, talents, and gain belong to God.  Christians have our own ability.  It appears that the members of the Godhead have not chosen to use the kind of abilities it takes to create gain for the man-dimension of God’s kingdom except during Jesus’ short time on earth.  After He demonstrated how the three variables work, He then commissioned Christians to do it.  God wants more sons and woe to the Christian who will not invest God’s talents to get Him gain!

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is the equation for judging God’s stewards?
  2. What do the talents represent?
  3. Why did some people receive more talents than others in the parable?
  4. Give an illustration that shows how one can be given two talents and another five.
  5. Why will God give Christians what the talents represent?
  6. Explain how it takes the talents plus our own ability to expand God’s kingdom.
  7. What kind of stewards will be saved?
  8. Explain how the distribution of the talents is not a one-time distribution.
  9. What will happen to a Christian’s own abilities if he or she does not accept God’s challenge to produce gain for His kingdom?
  10. Why must judgment belong to Jesus Christ?

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