So, I was thinking today (dangerous business, don’t you know!) in response to something my son said. Don’t remember what triggered the thought process or how it related, but here’s what I was thinking…
Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25? A man was going away on a journey, called in his servants, entrusted to each of them a different amount of money (according to their abilities) and left. When he returned, he called them in to settle accounts. The first two used what they had been given by trading and investing and each of them doubled the amount they had been given. The master praised them and rewarded them both well. But the third man, who had only been entrusted with one talent, believed ill of his master and buried the talent and hid it so that he could return that same talent to his master when he came back. This angered the giver of the talent and what that man was given was taken away and he was cast out.
I’ve heard that parable applied to finances and abilities and time – all our earthly gifts – and mostly about how we should use what God has given us for His glory. You know, do the right things, tithe, sing in the church, be hospitable, volunteer, etc. In other words, every application I have heard preached, has focused on our efforts with what God has given and on how He rewards those who “get it right.”
But, what if it is not about “what” (as in the doing of the right things) the first two did at all. What if it was about the trust the master demonstrated in them? What if this trust inspired them to believe in the mercy and grace of his character and dealings? What if because of this deep level of trust they were willing to go out and risk? What if that risk was simply to use the abilities they had with the talents they were given – to trade freely and offer themselves and their gifts in their community? What if, in the process, they (and every one else) prospered – not for themselves, but for the master who honored them with his trust?
What if it was never God’s plan that we should “get it right”? What if the point right from the beginning was about us learning to walk in faith, trusting the One who entrusts Himself to us, and allowing our God-given abilities to multiply the talents He entrusts to us each day as we live life willing to take risks and be the blessing He has made us to be.
I wonder what those talents looked like when they were offered up to the master. I wonder where they had been and what was done to increase them. I wonder how many investments and trades went bad before they went good. I wonder how much was given away before it was returned again. I wonder how many were helped – just because a servant was entrusted with his master’s blessing and therefore wanted to bless others to know the same kind of trust. I wonder.
I wonder what it would like for us to take our eyes off of our own “rightness” and caution and fear of displeasing our God, and to live freely with the “talents” He has entrusted to each of us, just for the sheer joy of doing what He has equipped us to do.
What if our mistakes and failures truly are not mistakes and failures at all?
What if the process has always been meant to be just that – a process?
What if God rejoices with us when we fall – because it is evidence of our love for His and our freedom and confidence in His nature and His love for us and His commitment to complete His work in us?
What if the only thing that displeases our Father is a fear of Him that is based on our lack of believing that He loves us and has given us the gift of Himself – of His Presence with us?
What if, now get this, what if just by the very fact of His nature, the only way our talents won’t be multiplied, is if we bury them and hide them away because we believe God to be a hard taskmaster who doesn’t really love us? If we believe that He gave us less than or more than our abilities deserve, and we refuse to use them, or deem them unworthy, unholy, dirty, or just plain too common to count?
What if what we do isn’t what really matters, that the real question is always about who we believe God to BE – His nature, character, and unconditional love for us? What if it is really about living in freedom and trust and joy – just because He has trusted and entrusted each us with a little bit of Himself – just exactly to the degree that He knows we are capable of responding and multiplying His presence in and to the world around us.
What if the talents given to you, are just exactly what I need to be able to clearly see the face of God right now? Or your neighbor? Or your boss? Or your family member?
Are you trading the talents you’ve been given with others? Your use yours and receive the blessing from others using their talents – and in return – you both increase your returns for the glory of God?
I wonder what your thoughts are about this parable. What do you understand and what is just not clear? What questions do you have?