I love it when people ask "learning" gospel questions.
What I mean by that is that there are devil's advocate questions, leading questions, questions asked under a hot lamp while hooked up to a polygraph, etc., etc. But sometimes, every once in a while, someone asks an honest "I'm just trying to figure this out here, I'm sure there is a sensible answer and I just need help finding it" gospel question.
I'm not completely sure, but these questions might surface less often now because the Internet knows everything, and we tend to ask it instead.
Or, maybe we all have lots of gospel questions, but we guard them carefully, just in case there isn't a good answer or in case we feel silly afterwards.
Whatever may be the case, questions like these have a tendency to make us think more carefully about the scriptures, about our beliefs in general, etc., and so I love it when one comes up in a gospel discussion.
Yesterday's Gospel Doctrine Class
So, in yesterday's class Brother Brown was teaching about the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25. We asked the usual questions about what a talent is, what it means that they each received a different amount, etc. Right at the end, though, another brother asked the question "how does a talent get taken away?"
I'm a real stickler about ending on time, and the initial answers to his question (spiritual muscle kind of answers, Alma 12:10-11) put us right at the top of the hour. This was such a good question, though, that I raised my hand to make a contribution.
What does it mean to lose a talent?
Imagine if you took all the money that you earned and stuffed it under the mattress. What would happen? Of course, inflation would cause the money to depreciate. (I'm not an economist--there might be a more "economist"-friendly way to say that.) If you let it sit under your mattress for 50 years, then its buying power would be less than half what it was when you put it there.
So it is with the gifts and wherewithal we are given by Jesus Christ. As Satan gets a greater hold upon the world in the last days, so must our light become brighter. If we leave our spiritual gifts under the mattress, even if they stayed at the level where they were when we put them there, they will not be sufficient when the time comes to use them when the stakes are much higher and the bar has been raised.
The reason the investor was upset was because, at the very least, the unfaithful servant could have put the talent in the bank where it could have gotten a small amount of interest! As it was, he stuffed it under the mattress and it was worth less than when the investor gave it to him.
We have the responsibility to increase our spiritual gifts, so that as the need for them becomes greater, we can have them ever at the ready.
P.S.: A couple books come to mind about provident living, which I believe has a strong correlation to God's gifts to us. The first is Scratch Beginnings, which I consider an good example of provident living and the second is Nickeled and Dimed, which I consider a bad example of provident living. If you live near by, come borrow the books!