“And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:30
If we compare the parable of the prodigal son and this parable of the talents, we notice the younger son received no rebuke for wasting his father’s inheritance on wild living. While the man who had buried his talent received an unusually severe rebuke. We would be more inclined to be compassionate with this man as he hadn’t done anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. The church may applaud people who avoid wrongdoing but the absence of wrong isn’t enough to earn God’s approval.
The parable indicates that the master would’ve been satisfied with a small return, just interest, so there was no sign he was a “hard man.” The servant’s laziness tells us, he actually thought his master was “soft.” He expected his master to be lenient and let him get away with his inaction. This parable has worrying implications for those who think they will go to heaven because they haven’t done anything particularly “bad.”
When confronted with the incredible holiness of God, we realize we have greatly underestimated God’s standards. People who think they are “good enough” go to heaven, have no understanding of how holy God is, and have reduced God to a mere teacher who “grades on a curve.” To “grade on a curve” means to reduces the pass mark to enable a set number of students to pass, which means students’ results are graded against each other and not against a predetermined standard.
God doesn’t reduce his standards in order to let a certain number of people into heaven. Rather, we “pass” by receiving Christ’s forgiveness. The younger son received his father’s robe, ring, and sandals and in doing so accepted his father’s forgiveness.