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Talents and Wealth
“For the kingdom
of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one
he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went
on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise
he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s
money (Matthew 25: 14-18 New King James Version).
God has gifted each and every one of us with gifts and talents. Most of us use our gifts daily bringing
glory and honor to God, yet there are those of us who have chosen to bury our talents because we don’t feel good enough
to use them. There are also some who haven’t discovered what their gift or talent is. There are spiritual gifts and
there are physical gifts God grants to His children. We sometimes limit the scope of our gifts due to doctrine or self-consciousness,
or perhaps even shame, since we may not fully understand the gift. There are obvious gifts and talents such as voice or musical
ability, cooking or being available to lend a hand when needed. Then there are less-obvious gifts, such as knowing deep
within our heart God is going to answer, or being able to understand the languages around us or always seeming to have an
encouraging word for a situation that we knew nothing about!
It doesn’t matter what we are good at, what matters is using these gifts and talents for God’s
glory and purpose. We don’t want to bury our gifts, if we do, we aren’t able to hone and perfect them. They are
unusable if we have them hidden away. One day, we will have to answer God for what we did or didn’t do with what He
gave us. We are all gifted in many different areas, but I believe God reveals where He has supernaturally talented us by
where our passions lie, and what we gravitate towards the most.
Everything We Have Is a Gift from God
Everything we have is a gift from God. All good things are gifts
from God (1 Timothy 6:17). Food and clothing (Matthew 6:25, 33), rain and fruitful harvests (Leviticus 26:4), faith (Ephesians
2:8), grace (James 4:6), wisdom (Proverbs 2:6,James 1:5), and life itself (Isaiah 42:5) are all gifts from God.
Gifts Are for Use in His Service
The gifts we have received are not ours alone. God gave them to us for the purpose
of serving Him and serving other people.
Each of us has something to give. We can give our money and our time to charity,
be a friend to someone who is sick or lonely, do volunteer work, or be a peacemaker, teacher or minister. We may give unselfishly
of our time to our spouse, children or parents. We may choose a service-oriented occupation, or we may just do our everyday
jobs with integrity and respect for others.
The apostle Paul phrased it this way:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let
him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging,
let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern
diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Romans 12:5-8)
In His Parable of the Talents, Jesus taught that we must use our gifts wisely. A talent was a
very large sum of money, about 80 pounds (36 kg) of silver. Before leaving on a journey, a wealthy man entrusted his fortune
to his servants for the time he would be away. Two of the servants used the money wisely to earn income for their master.
However, the third servant did not put the money to good use, and the master was very displeased. Here is the parable:
"Again, it will be like a man going
on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another
two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received
the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained
two more. But the man who had received the one talent 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 the five talents brought the other five.
'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. 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!'
man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; 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 the one talent 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 talent 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.
"'Take the talent from him and give
it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does
not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there
will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 25:14-30)
The master represents God in this parable, and the servants represent us. The English word talent,
meaning our natural abilities, is derived from this parable. That is fitting because the lesson of the parable is that we
must use our talents and abilities, as well as our wealth, in God's service. If we do not use our gifts wisely, God will
consider us to be wicked and lazy like the third man in the parable.
It would seem that the more we give to others, the poorer we become, but just the opposite is
true! Service to others brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives in a way that wealth, power, possessions and self-centered
pursuits can never match. As Jesus said,
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will
be poured into your lap.
It does not matter whether we have been
given great talents, abilities and wealth, or very little. What matters to God is whether we make good use of what we have
been given, whether large or small:
From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been
entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Each new day is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.