Tag Archives: Spiritual Gifts

What Are You Doing With Your Talents?

The subject of talents seems to have come up a lot lately. Or more specifically, the subject of my writing talent. Several people have commented on my blog that I am talented. My response is always that my writing talent is a gift from God, and that I have seen that the more I use that talent to glorify God the more He increases that talent.

Then last Sunday our interim pastor preached a sermon based on the Parable of the Talents as recorded in Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV). I love this parable, and our pastor made a couple of interesting observations that I want to share (though not necessarily in the order he shared them because I forgot to take notes – note taking is not one of my greatest talents).

First, he pointed us back to the parable immediately before this one, and that is the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 (NIV). The lamp oil referred to in this earlier parable represents the Holy Spirit. To be ready to receive, use, and multiply the talents that God gives us, we must be filled with and rely on the Holy Spirit.

Second, although the Parable of the Talents refers to money that was given to each of the servants, Jesus isn’t really talking about money. He is talking about whatever the Lord entrusts to us, including our spiritual gifts and natural talents.

Third, he pointed out that each of the three servants in the Parable of the Talents was given a different number of talents, “each according to his ability.” Matthew 25:15 (NIV). Here Jesus is saying that God gives different talents to different people. We need to use the talents God has given us, and not always be looking at others and wishing we had their talents. Although I have a talent for writing, there are other things (such as singing and caring for the sick) that I don’t have the greatest talent for. Rather than being jealous of those who have talents I don’t, I should be thankful for the blessing they are and for the talents I have been given.

Fourth, if God gives us a talent and we use it to His glory, He will give us the ability to succeed. It may not be the kind of success the world tells us to seek. We may not gain material possessions or status or fame. But we will succeed at furthering the kingdom of God.

Finally, when we use our talents as God has called us to, they will be multiplied. The kingdom of God will be increased and we will be blessed. Then our Lord will say:

‘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!’ Matthew 25:23 (NIV).

But when you refuse to use our talents for His glory, in the end they will be taken away and given to those who have been faithful with God’s gifts.

So what are you doing with the talents God has given you? You do have some, you know, even if you think you don’t. Are you hiding your talents in a hole in the ground? Or are you using them to the best of your ability? If you’ve hidden them, I urge you to go dig them up now and start using them for God’s glory before the Master returns and it’s too late.

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Filed under Faith, Jesus, Life, postaday2011, Service

New Books, a New Word, and a Lesson on Humility from Jeremiah

For my birthday, my in-laws sent me $20, so I decided to get some new books. Not that I need any new books, mind you, because I have quite a few that I haven’t read yet. But I was at the Cedar Hills Mall with my son last weekend because he wanted to go to Game Trader, and there is a Powell’s Books right next door. I just couldn’t resist. I want to share what wonderful books I found, in reverse order (because I want to write more about the first one I found).

The last book that I found was “Man In White” by Johnny Cash. I went to the music section looking for another biography of Johnny Cash and was pleasantly surprised to find that he had written a novel I did not know about. This book is Cash’s novelization of the life of the apostle Paul. I’ve only started the Introduction, but I will be posting a review when I finish this book. I think it’s going to be a good one!

The second book that I found was “Edge of Eternity” by Randy Alcorn. This book is a Christian novel. I’ve read some of Alcorn’s other books and really enjoyed them, so I am looking forward to getting a chance to delve into this one. With all the other books on my list, this one might be a while. I never seem to find as much time to read as I would like.

The first book I found was “What the Bible is all about: Bible Handbook NIV Edition” by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears. It looks like it will be a great resource for my Bible study. I’ve already learned some new things about the book of Jeremiah, which I am in the middle of reading. Although this isn’t the type of book you would read from cover to cover, it will be a great help to read the chapter on each book of the Bible as I begin reading it. This might slow down my already-behind-schedule Bible reading schedule, but if I get more out of my scripture reading that’s okay.

The discussion of Jeremiah begins this way, putting the whole book into perspective:

Here is the story of a diffident, sensitive lad who was called from the obscurity of his native town to assume, at a critical hour in the nation’s life, the overwhelming responsibilities of a prophet. (Mears, pg. 237)

I must confess that when I read this section of Mears’ book, I didn’t know what the word “diffident” meant, so I had to look it up. According to Dictionary.com, diffident means “lacking confidence in one’s own ability, worth, or fitness; timid; shy; restrained or reserved in manner, conduct, etc.” This definition is consistent with how I saw Jeremiah as I read what he wrote, and yet Mears’ concise manner of summarizing who Jeremiah was helped to solidify my mental image of him. And it is always good to learn a new word!

The diffident Jeremiah provides a perfect lesson on humility. Jeremiah did not think he was qualified to be God’s prophet. He thought he was too young, among other things. And according to Mears, in Jewish society most others would have thought him too young as well. But those who think they are unqualified, and sometimes those we think are unqualified, are often just the type of people God chooses to use for His glory. These are the humble ones who know they must rely on God for everything. Absolutely everything.

I think that as a follower of Christ, this is an important lesson to grasp. One of the gifts God has given me is the gift of encouragement. This lesson on how God uses the humble is important to me in two respects. First, I must remember that even when I do not think I am qualified for the task of encouraging someone, if He has called me to do it, He will give me the strength and wisdom necessary to accomplish it. Second, I must remember to use my gift of encouragement to spur on and embolden others who may not seem qualified, but whom God has called for some task. When a fellow Christian says, in Jeremiah fashion, “I’m too young” or “I can’t do that” or “I don’t speak eloquently enough,” I need to remind them what the Lord said to Jeremiah: “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you”. Jeremiah 1:8 (NIV).

I’ve heard a saying that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of others more. But as I read Jeremiah and thought about what he has to teach us about humility, I realized that a better saying is that humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of God more. God made us in His image and made us to be in relationship with Him. We were never meant to live this life on our own, but to live dependent on our ultimate source of strength and wisdom, the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Filed under Book Review, Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, postaday2011