NOTE: This article appeared in the December 2016 issue of Forward Magazine.
I can remember only one time while growing up that my grandfather, Pepa, punished me. I probably was seven or eight years old at the time. My older brother, Kent, and I were spending the week at my grandparents’ house. I don’t remember everything about the fight I had with my brother that day, but I do remember it had something to do with a chocolate chip cookie. I also remember my grandfather stepping in and, shortly thereafter, both of us being sent to different bedrooms to cool down and think about how ridiculous the two of us were acting over a cookie. After a while, I also remember my Pepa inviting us onto the back porch with him for a post-fight cookie and some milk. Obviously, neither of us deserved that cookie. He gave it to us anyway. And, after all these years, I haven’t forgotten that moment.
Jesus tells a story in the bible found in Matthew 25 of the man who gives talents (money of the day) to his servants before leaving on a journey. To one of his servants he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent. The bible tells us that the man who received the five talents invested his money and gained five more. The one with the two talents did the same and gained two more. But the man who received just one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
The story goes on to say that eventually the master returned and was happy to hear how the first two servants had made the most of the opportunity he had given them by doubling his money. However, the master was very displeased with the third servant who chose not to work hard to take full advantage of the blessing his master had given him. His punishment – – the one talent was taken away and he was left with nothing.
There are several things to learn from this passage about what it means to take full advantage of the life God has given you and to give Him all you’ve got!
- God Wants to Give You What You Don’t Deserve
The man in Matthew 25 didn’t have to give his servants anything. They were beneath him. But he did because he wanted to bless them. The same is true with God. He doesn’t owe you or me anything! But He does want you to be blessed.
There is a misconception permeating culture today—it’s called entitlement. Many believe that they deserve anything and everything they want. Many believe, “I should get what I want, because I deserve it!” Many people believe that they deserve anything they want, the way they want it, and at the time they want it.
The truth is, we don’t deserve anything good. But God loves us so much that He wants us to get what we don’t deserve. Know that God desires to bless you and give you His very best.
- God Wants to Use You Uniquely
The man in this story (representing God) gives each servant a talent, as the bible says, according to his ability. He didn’t give the same to all, because all people aren’t the same.
God has blessed you with certain abilities and talents that are only for you. He hasn’t made you like anyone else. You are unique. And God has something for you to do that no one else can do better than you. Your responsibility isn’t to compare what you look like, who you are, where you live, how much you make, or what you accomplish in life with anything or anyone else.
There potentially will be the voices of many throughout your life who will try and compare you to others. Don’t allow the comparison game to take you down the road of perceived inadequacy. You will never be like anyone else, because God made you to only be you.
- God Wants to Teach You to Work Wisely
Have you asked God to show you what career He would have for you? He will if you ask Him. He may not reveal this to you right away. But in His way and in His time, God will make clear to you what His plans for you are. In the meantime, whatever is before you each day, God expects you to work wisely in all you do.
The man in this parable expected the same from his servants. He left town expecting them to take care of what he had entrusted to them.
Are you one who daily strives to take care of what has been entrusted to you?
- God Wants You to Do Your Part
Obviously, the master in this story had expectations for all three of his servants. It goes without saying that he wasn’t thrilled with the news from the third servant. The third servant did nothing with what had been given to him. Fear, laziness, and apathy probably played a part in his choice to sit idle rather than work hard for his master. The result: the one who did nothing got nothing.
God expects you to work hard in all that you do to use the gifts He has given you for His glory. Colossians 3:17 reminds us that whatever we do, we are to do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God every step of the way. In school, at work, with your relationships, when everyone is looking and when no one is looking, God’s expectations of you are always the same—give it all you’ve got!