Using our talents as well as our struggles
As always, comments are greatly appreciated! Dialogues are far better than monologues!
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
This is a parable that most Christians are incredibly familiar with. It has been taught on a ton of times. At first I was not going to talk about this parable today for exactly that reason, it has been taught on so much. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that it is taught on so much because it is so darn important and yet most Christians struggle with implementing the message. Jesus told us that God has given us each individual talents that are to be used to help spread God’s word while we are here on Earth and also help those that have physical needs as well. When we get to heaven Jesus tells us that God is going to be the master who asks, “What have you done with what I gave you to work with?” Terrifying thought! We know that our salvation comes from knowing Jesus Christ and accepting the gift he gave to us when he died on the cross, but Christians were not designed to sit on the sidelines waiting for Heaven. We are called to maximize the talents we have been given for the good of the kingdom of God. So where does God want to use you?
I think there are a lot of Christians that struggle with this passage because they look at missionaries, pastors, and other folks “directly” doing God’s work, and do not think that they could ever do that. The good news is that God can use you exactly how you are right now. God needs people in every walk of life. You do not have to be in a third world country to be on the “mission field”. There are people who need tangible worldly help and people who do not know Christ everywhere. Whether you are a college student, financial planner, a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, or a sales representative; God needs your help! So what keeps us from using the gifts God has given us?
In most cases I think the answer is fear of embarrassment. “I don’t want them to think I am some religious nutjob!” This fear of embarrassment rapidly transforms into rationalization. “Besides, what am I going to do? Should I be that guy with the megaphone shouting at people that they are going to hell? No one is converted like that anyway! In fact, it actually turns people off towards Christianity.” I know that I have personally fought this battle many times with myself. The reality is that God does not want you to be the megaphone guy. That clearly does not work. However, on the evangelism spectrum there is a lot of middle ground between megaphone guy and refusing to ever even bring up Jesus outside of the comfortable walls of the church. God wants us out there building relationships with others first, but then not being ashamed to bring up our faith later. Listen to what Paul has to say about this matter in today’s reading in 1 Corinthians 25:19-23:
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
The other thing that keeps a lot of Christians from bringing up spiritual matters with others is that fear that they themselves are not worthy. It is easy to think to ourselves, “Who am I to bring up this to another? I am far from perfect myself.” The truth is that we all have things that we struggle with in our lives. We all have battles that we fight. God can use those too! If you are struggling or have struggled in the past with some type of sin in your life, chances are others are currently struggling with the exact same thing. You have an incredible opportunity to provide support and love for those people in a way that few others could. Don’t be afraid to use the negative stuff in your life in a positive way for Christ. I love the story of Joseph in Genesis. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and eventually thrown into prison because of them. And yet listen to Joseph’s perspective in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Joseph had every right to be furious with his brothers, but instead he chose to focus on the good that God had planned through this hardship. If we can all keep this perspective when we go through trials and battle sin in our lives, God can accomplish powerful things through us for his kingdom.
Thought for the day: In my current position in life how can I best use the talents God has given me? How could God best minister to others through me as a result of trials or struggles I have had in my life?