Joseph Smith and the parable of the talents

The following quotation by Joseph Smith makes a an interesting interpretation of the parable of the talents. He says that “everyone is to receive according to his own diligence and perseverance while in the vineyard”, and then references the parable of the talents. Improving our own talents that we can gain other talents appears to be a reference to saving the souls of men.

“Who but those who have duly considered the condescension of the Father of our spirits, in providing a sacrifice for His creatures, a plan of redemption, a power of atonement, a scheme of salvation, having as its great objects, the bringing of men back into the presence of the King of heaven, crowning them in the celestial glory, and making them heirs with the Son to that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away–who but such can realize the importance of a perfect walk before all men, and a diligence in calling upon all men to partake of these blessings? How indescribably glorious are these things to mankind! Of a truth they may be considered tidings of great joy to all people; and tidings, too, that ought to fill the earth and cheer the heart of every one when sounded in his ears. The reflection that everyone is to receive according to his own diligence and perseverance while in the vineyard, ought to inspire everyone who is called to be a minister of these glad tidings, to so improve his talent that he may gain other talents, that when the Master sits down to take an account of the conduct of His servants, it may be said, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will now make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 47)

It is too bad that the word talent has come to mean something we have a natural capacity for in our modern language. A talent in the new testament was a coin. It seems to have led to commonly reading this parable as being about improving our natural abilities, rather that being about saving the souls of men. But there are other places that also teach that our salvation is contingent on our efforts to save the souls of others:

D&C 4:4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

We also see the same interpretation of the parable of the talents in D&C 60.

D&C 60:2 But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.
 3 And it shall come to pass, if they are not more faithful unto me, it shall be taken away, even that which they have.

 7 And in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.

The intent seems to be that we must labor to save the souls of others, thereby proving that our “work and glory is the immortality and eternal life of men” in our small sphere in order for the Lord to then say to us, in turn “Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things: I will now make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord”.

For the sisters, that Labor is primarily in their own homes, among their own family. The men have a a priesthood obligation to preach the gospel.

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John Robertson

I am nothing more than a regular member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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