“You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more. Come and share in my happiness!” Matthew 25:21 (CEV)
The parable of the talents is one of most familiar parables for those who have read the Bible and attended church for a while. It is about the three servants who are entrusted with the “talents” (in this case money, but symbolically meaning gifts and graces). The first two took their money and invested it, doubling the amounts, and the third servant hid the money, buried in some hole somewhere until the master returned.
So, there are several ways of looking at this, but I would like to put it in the context of today’s church – here in the 21st century. Our Tuesday afternoon Bible study group had a great discussion about what this meant not only for the church, but also for us as individuals. We all are given gifts and graces that God intends for us to use in our lives. They may be the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and [gulp] self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23). OR our we may have GIFTS of the Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, speaking clearly, or interpreting what others say. (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
We even could be given a specific gift for a specific task or role – the gifts of God’s grace: prophecy in proportion to faith; ministry in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-7)
Do we USE the gifts God has given us? Actually, do we receive them graciously? Or do we deny them and hide them away somewhere. When we use our God-given gifts, we often discover more gifts that we haven’t realized were there. As individuals, some are called to preach, to teach, to comfort, to care, to interpret, to lead, to pray, to uplift – whatever it is that God calls us to do, we are asked to use our gifts to serve God, to connect with others, to grow in faith, and to NOT keep them to ourselves.
Our gifts multiply – they grow with use. Someone once told me that they had no idea they could teach until someone asked them to teach Sunday school. They always felt that they didn’t know enough, but what they discovered was that they learned with the children and then grew in their own understanding of the Bible, of God, and their faith journey. People whose knees rattle and shake in front of even a small group of people will tell you that they can’t read scripture, and yet, I have heard many people of that mindset read beautifully.
A friend of mine who was extremely shy heard someone say, “I’ll read” when I asked for someone to read scripture the following Sunday. She turned around and looked behind her to see who had said it and then realized that it had been her voice and had come from her. What a suprise! She ended up reading quite often, much to her surprise. Her confidence increased, and she gradually was able to overcome much of her shyness. Eventually, she became an interim pastor for a small church in Maine.
It seems to me that it would be helpful to think about our gifts that God has given us. Maybe we feel a nudge toward something which is God’s way of saying, “You ought to try this!” Maybe we have always wanted to do something, but were afraid to try – give it a try! There is no shame in trying! Let’s use our gifts, let them multiply, and glorify God through them. The grace of God is a huge gift, and it’s big enough for everyone! God bless your day!