Types and Talents

Types and Talents


Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability (Matthew 25:15). Now there are diversities of gifts (I Corinthians 12:4).

Purpose of the Illustration

  1. To show how different people are usable by the Lord, though their abilities differ greatly.

  2. To point out that Christ uses what we give to Him for His service.

  3. To prove that whatever our color, race or creed the Master has a place for our talents.


  1. Three glasses.

  2. Four bottles for chemical solutions.

  3. Small pitcher.

Chemicals: Small amounts of—

  1. Iron chloride.

  2. Copper sulphate.

  3. Zinc sulphate.

  4. Potassium ferrocyanide.

Method of Procedure

  1. In separate bottles make weak solutions of iron chloride, copper sulphate, and zinc sulphate.

  2. In the fourth bottle make a solution of the potassium ferrocyanide.

  3. Pour a small amount, barely visible, of each of the first three chemical solutions into separate glasses. You may merely rinse the glasses with the solutions. This will leave a small amount in each glass.

  4. Pour the solution of potassium ferrocyanide into the pitcher.

  5. Then pour some of this solution into each of the three glasses.

Chemical Reactions

  1. The copper sulphate in the glass is a beautiful blue.

  2. The iron chloride is brown.

  3. The zinc sulphate is white.

  4. When potassium ferrocyanide is poured into the glass with the blue copper sulphate, the color turns to an ugly brown.

  5. The brown iron chloride, when potassium ferrocyanide is added, changes to a deep blue.

  6. The white zinc sulphate remains white and unchanged.


  1. You should practice this experiment until you are sure of the exact proportions necessary to produce the right chemical colorations.

  2. In each case the same solution of potassium ferrocyanide is the active agent which produces the color changes. This may be used to represent the incoming of Christ into one's heart, or the action of the Holy Spirit in one's life.

  3. Use enough of each chemical in the three glasses to make the colors distinctive. Then the addition of the white potassium ferrocyanide, acting as the Holy Spirit in the life, produces distinct changes in each one.

If everyone was a reformer like Martin Luther then there would be no famous singers and composers of sacred hymns—no Ira Sankey, Charles Alexander, Fanny Crosby, Haldor Lillenas. The same God who created and called into His work Charles Wesley, the hymnist, also called into His vineyard his brother John, who became the father of Methodism.

Talents differ, as these bottles differ. Pour the three solutions into the glasses. In each glass you see three distinctly different colors, which represent different types of people, or folk with five, two and one talents. God needs people of various abilities to fit into the divine scheme of life.

Let this blue represent men and women of five talents, like Florence Nightingale, David Livingstone, William Carey; and let the brown stand for those of lesser ability, the hundreds of Christian workers who have labored in various fields around the world. The white glass indicates the millions of unnamed and unsung heroes of the Cross whose talents have been limited, yet who have served God in their spheres. Each one in his or her own realm is as necessary as the other.

When William Carey went to India, as the first modern missionary, his friend Andrew Fuller said, "We will hold the ropes while you go down into the pit." Fuller remains unknown while the name of Carey is well known to every Christian. Yet these Fullers, rope-holders for the more brilliantly active Careys and Livingstones, are a vital part of the Master's kingdom.

If the blue should say to the white, "Since I am of more importance than you, you can be dispensed with very easily," it would create havoc in the kingdom. Laymen and laywomen are needed to carry on their part in Christ's work, and no one can be cast aside, however small his talent or ability.

Natural abilities are changed when the Holy Spirit touches a life. From this pitcher, I am pouring what looks like plain water. Pour the solution from the pitcher into the first glass and notice the change. Now pour from the pitcher into the second glass. See how it changes the blue to brown, and the brown to blue. So when the Spirit comes in and touches a person's abilities or talents, He changes them, and makes them usable for God's glory.

It requires this power of the Spirit to fit one for Christian service, however great his natural abilities. Brilliance is never a sure sign of spiritual ability. When one will achieve for God, He must devote his talent or talents to Christ's cause, and then God takes these abilities and charges them with the Spirit's power.

William Carey was a shoe cobbler, but the Spirit made of him one of the world's mightiest linguists and missionaries, who translated the Bible into more than thirty-five languages and dialects. Had his talents not been charged with the Holy Spirit he might have forever remained a cobbler of shoes.

John Bunyan was a tinker, virtually unable at the time of his conversion to read or write. Yet when empowered by the Holy Spirit he was able to produce one of the world's best selling books, second only to the Bible.

What God would have you do, my friend, is to devote your talents to His service and let His will direct the course of your life.

God took a little girl, blind most of her life, and touched her soul with song, and before she died she had composed more than eighty-five hundred sacred hymns. This ability came from the outpouring of the Spirit in Fanny Crosby's life.

God calls some preachers to fill insignificant pulpits and others to become Spurgeons, but in the end the glory of service receives its reward.

Your life, too, may become a many-talented one if the Holy Spirit is permitted to empower your natural abilities. It is not the greatness of your natural abilities, but your willingness to let them be used and blessed of the Lord that determines the glory of your service.

Dwight L. Moody was an orphan, who stammered and stuttered in his early life, but one day, after his marvelous conversion in the rear of his uncle's shoe store in Boston, he was walking down a street in New York City when the thought struck him, "The world has never seen what God can do with a man who is thoroughly consecrated to Him." At once Moody said, "I will be that man."

Under the Spirit's blessing and leadership, he was able to win a million souls to Jesus; he had prayed personally with seven hundred and fifty thousand of them. His natural abilities were consecrated; his talents given to God to be blessed.

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