What is your interpretation of the Parable of the Talents? How does it apply to your life and your computing skills and talents?

The parable of the talents is a story Jesus told to a crowd, from Matthew’s Gospel. The story is about a very rich man, who leaves for an extended period of time, entrusting his wealth to a few of his servants. He instructed his servants to invest the money during his time away. The story is interesting because he gives his servants different amounts of money. He gives five “talents” to one servant, two to another, and one to the third. A talent in this case is a measure of gold, not some sort of personal ability. When he returns, the rich man rewards two of his servants who were able to invest and double the money. He also punishes the third servant, who had one talent, because the servant had been afraid of investing, and had not earned any interest.

The parable parallels our lives. God, the rich man, has given all of us, his servants, gifts and (literal) talents to use in order to serve him and those around us. The message the parable is sending is one of happiness but also one of warning. Jesus is telling us that if we use our gifts for good, we will be greatly rewarded in heaven. However, if we waste our gifts, and return to Him with nothing more, we will not only miss out on the reward, but punished for our evil actions. I find this last point extremely interesting. It seems to me that we could use our talents and abilities to do one of three things: use them for the good, use them for evil, or not use them at all. The parable tells of a terrible punishment, Hell, for those who do not use their talents at all. We can only assume that those who actually use their talents for evil will also receive this punishment, the same punishment. The surprising message here is that in the eyes of God, failing to use our talents is equal to using our talents for evil.

This message has important applications to my life and my computing skills and talents. I have been entrusted with skills and opportunities that need to be utilized. God has given me a great amount of responsibility to the world, to use my talents for good. Looking back at my analysis of the parable of the talents, the responsibility I have is actually a very active, rather than passive responsibility. My responsibility is not passive in the sense that I need to simply avoid harming others. My responsibility is to actively help those in need. Again, in the eyes of God, there is no difference between being passive and being actively bad. This fact puts into perspective the real importance of using my talents for good.

Thinking about the parable of the talents in relation to my skills as a computer scientist has changed my perspective on the laws of morality. The morals that seemed most important to me were those that condemned actively bad actions. I realize through reading this parable, however, that it is equally important to abide by the moral obligation to use my talents and skills to help others.