“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. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” Matthew 25:14-30 (NKJV)
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29 (NKJV)
Like the parable above, God has given each one of us “talents.” He ordained before we were born what place we belong and what purpose we should accomplish with our lives. It must be one of our primary goals to discover what He has in mind and then determine in our hearts to fulfill that purpose to the best of our ability.
It is common for parents to tell their children: “Oh Johnny, you are so talented, so smart, so (fill in the blank). You can be anything you want to be.” That simply isn’t true. In fact, we do our children a great disservice by telling them this. God has given them abilities, talents, and intellect for a reason. He has a specific purpose for each one and that purpose may not be what is immediately apparent.
Take, for example, a child who is gifted athletically or musically. It would be easy to assume that these talents and abilities are equivalent to God’s call and purpose, but they may not be. They will certainly play a part in God’s call and purpose, but may not be the sum total of it. Our giftings, interests, talents, skills, and abilities are clues to what God intends, but we must not presume that we understand where we are to go with them until we ask Him.
Even understanding our call does not necessarily mean we will automatically accomplish it. It is too easy to become side-tracked over the years. We find excuses so that we don’t have to do what we know we are supposed to. We put up road blocks to sabotage ourselves so that we have “legitimate reasons” why we can’t succeed. We are afraid; we are lazy; we allow ourselves to become distracted; we don’t count the cost; we lightly esteem the call.
God is not going to be impressed with our excuses.
All of us have been called into full-time ministry. Only some will become pastors or missionaries. The rest of us will serve Him in whatever sector of life He places us. One position is not more important than the other. They are interconnected with a common purpose; all an integral part of the body of Christ; all are necessary.
It is easy to mistake the call of God for full time service as one that requires going to the mission field or attending seminary with the goal of becoming a pastor. We may understand that our purpose is full-time service to the Lord, but we assume a very narrow field of service: some are sent, some just went.
Wherever and however God calls us to serve, He gives us the talents and abilities to complete His Will. I don’t know why God gives some “five talents,” others “two talents,” and still others “one talent.” You don’t have to look very far to see that this is a true statement. No matter how much God has given us, we can easily find someone who is more talented, more intelligent, or more gifted. I believe what God is telling us through the parable of the talents is that, no matter how much He has given us, He expects us to make the most of it in His service.
It is easy to envy those who we perceive to have “greater talents.” We wonder why God didn’t give us those abilities and maybe even more. And yet, Luke 12: 48b tells us: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Would we be willing to handle the added responsibility that goes with them? Would we want to be held to a higher standard?
The call that God places on our lives determines the path we must walk to get there. The greater the call, the greater the likelihood that we will be “refined by fire,” so that when God allows us to walk into our call, we will not be destroyed by the temptations associated with it.
God loves us too much to allow us to stay where we are in our lives. His great desire is to see us succeed in the purposes He has pre-ordained. He gives us the tools we need to bring it to pass. The talents which He has given us are a gift. We did nothing to deserve them; we can do nothing to earn them. We can only develop them, with His help, to the best of our ability.
Everyone comes to a certain age and stage in life when we look back at what we have done, aware of regrets and lost opportunities; aware that the time remaining is much shorter than it used to be. Some call this a “mid-life crisis.” I call it a time of introspection, examination, and refocusing. Maturity of years hopefully brings with it some wisdom.
It is time to ask ourselves: What have we settled for because we were unwilling to do what God required? What have we been using as a shield to protect us because we have been afraid of failure? What dreams has God placed in our hearts that we have allowed to die? Have we been a faithful servant with what we have so generously been given?
God is a restorer of lost dreams. He has a plan for their fulfillment, even if we can’t see how. He is intensely interested in our success in accomplishing those purposes which He has ordained by His Sovereignty.
It is time to fulfill the meaning of our name.
God has determined that we have been born for such a time as this.
“Then Esther spoke to Hathach, and gave him a command for Mordecai: ‘All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. Yet I myself have not been called to go in to the king these thirty days.’ So they told Mordecai Esther’s words. And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: ‘Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’ Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: ‘Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!’” Esther 4:10-16 (NKJV)
Copyright © 2011 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved