Jesus' story of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30). This story baffles me. It seems to encourage greed. Please help me interpret it metaphysically.
COMMENT: This familiar story tells of the wealthy man who, before leaving on a long journey, entrusted some of his wealth to three servants: five talents to one, two to another, one to the third – "to each according to his ability." (A talent was a huge amount of money – about 15 years' wages for a laborer.) On his return both of the first two servants had invested the talents given them, and each returned a profit and was rewarded by the master. The third, however, was afraid of losing the talent he'd been given, so he hid it safely away and returned it to his master. His talent is taken from him and given to the one with ten talents – "For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away."
It does, indeed, sound like an unfair story about greed. But metaphysically, Jesus is offering an important teaching about our own relationship to God. The third servant lived in fear of his Source, and believed that the best he could hope to do was to avoid making mistakes by hiding the talent and returning it untouched. There are still many people who believe in this understanding of God as a Power to be feared. But we are endowed with innate talents precisely so that we can invest them, use them, and produce greater good. We're here in this human experience to be creative, not merely to be obedient out of fear. If we are afraid to risk because we're afraid to lose, what we are creating is a consciousness of fear. And the result will inevitably be that, as Job discovers, "that which I greatly fear has come upon me." If we place our belief in a fear of loss, then loss is what we create. If, on the other hand, we accept the talents as a gift, and a rich opportunity – if we lovingly invest our gifts and energies to bring more of God's abundance into expression, then we will be richly rewarded as a result. It's not a question of judgment – it's all about consciousness. Choices have consequences.