I used to think I was not a talented person. Sure, I had some skills and I was strong and clever at times, but I wouldn’t have said I was talented. I was friends with talented people, but I was the loyal one of the group. I thought I’d go through life doing things well enough, but never standing out, never making a difference. When my friend told me that I had a natural eye for photography, I was surprised. Me, a creative? Me, I was naturally talented at anything?
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”Matthew 25:14-30
I have come to realize that every one of us has been gifted with a talent or talents by God, each according to their ability. God knows we have varying capacities, personalities, and abilities. So, He gives us talents based on what He knows we can handle. This is not a reflection on our worth, but rather it is a reflection on God’s care for us.
Sometimes, the talents we are given may not be obvious to us, and they may not feel like talents at all. When God told Moses to go and lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Moses held back because he did not speak well. God reminded him that He had created man’s mouth and He would be with Moses. Still Moses said he could not do it, so God provided Aaron to speak for Moses. Three times, Gideon asked God for a sign that He would be with him as he led Israel to defeat Midian, and God graciously showed him each time. God will always equip us for what he has called us to do. This may come in the form of people to join us, or in the boldness that comes from knowing God is with us. Sometimes, the talents God gives us to steward are big and visible, like leading a country. Sometimes, they are invisible to the world at large, but that does not make the impact of our stewardship any less valuable or lessen our responsibility to steward it well. Whatever the size, whatever the range, whatever the visibility of our talents, God will be with us to equip and guide us.
I don’t believe God gives us talents that we won’t be able to use. We may not be able to use them right now, but we will be able to use them. If we don’t see how we can actively use them, we need to think of ways to invest them so that we are still working on building them up, rather than burying them until we get around to using them. We don’t have to wait until we can do something big for God before we can use our talents.
A person’s reward is not based on how many talents they are given at the beginning, but on how they use, or do not use, those talents. The servant who started out with five talents doubled their talents, and so did the servant who started out with two talents. When the master returned and saw what they had done, he told each of them “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over little; now you will be faithful over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” The issue arose with the servant with one talent, not because he had fewer talents than anybody else, but because he mishandled the responsibility of the talent he was given. Verses 24-25 tell us why the servant mishandled the talent. He was afraid of losing the talent, or of using it incorrectly, so he thought it would be better to bury it in the ground. In the end, what he feared came true. He lost his talent because he did not handle it responsibly, though it was not in the way he expected. We have a choice. We can use our talents and use them well, or we can not. If we choose to bury them, we will live lives full of fear of man and terror of God. The giver of gifts is also the bringer of justice. If we choose to use them well, God will reward us and we will see Him working in our lives and the world around us in powerful, life-changing ways.
What are your talents? Is there a talent you have buried out of fear? How are you investing in your talents? Where do you think God is calling you to use those talents?
I want to use my talents for God’s glory. I want to use my talents responsibly, not bury them for fear of failing God or failing in front of others. I want to hear at the end, when I stand before my master, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”