Take a few minutes and think about the things you do with your time. Do you spend most of your time working outside the home? Are you a homemaker? Are you involved in children or grandchildren’s activities? Do you volunteer your time to worthy civic and church groups?
Now think about the gifts God has given you to accomplish all this. In what areas of work and leadership are you most talented? Perhaps you excel at planning, public speaking, teaching, caring, sewing, artistic expression, or singing. It is an integral part of our faith to remember that God gives us these talents to serve and glorify God’s name. When we use our gifts and abilities to glorify God regularly then they become a spiritual discipline, that is something we do regularly that draws us closer to God.
In Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the “Parable of the Talents.” To the two servants who take the master’s money and invest it wisely, the master praises them, but further challenges them with the words, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant… you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things…” When God has given us talents, we are to use them, and in so doing, God will entrust us with even more responsibility. The third servant simply buried his master’s money. For not doing anything with it, he lost what he had and was judged unfaithful.
None of us wants to be like the third servant. The Protestant work ethic is strongly influenced by this parable. But I want you to ask yourself if all the things you are involved in are done to use God’s gifts to glorify God’s name, or do you find yourself living a busy life?
Jesus’ lesson in the home of Mary and Martha is very instructive at this point (Luke 10:38-42). Martha is taking care of all the guests. She has the gift of hospitality. Her sister, Mary, is listening to Jesus teach. Martha asks Jesus to make Mary help her take care of the guests, expecting Jesus to support her. Instead, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
When I look at these texts together, I think Jesus challenges us not only to use our God-given talents to God’s glory, but also to seek Jesus first before we do so. That way our work will not merely be busywork, or worse, done for our own glory.
My father has been a strong model for using his time and talents to glorify God. Two events stand out in my mind. I asked him if he had ever considered being a minister? He had, but felt God had called him instead to be a Christian businessman. We call this our Christian vocation. That is, wherever God sends us God can use us to reach out to others, minister to their needs, reveal God’s love, and witness to Jesus Christ’s saving power. Many people have confirmed my experience that my father has glorified God through his work in business through the years.
This became very real when I heard him talking about some unethical things one of his bosses years ago had asked him to do. He had refused, but it was clear the work pressure was increasing. One day he told our family he had quit his job. He was unemployed with four young children to raise. Things were tight for awhile. I don’t know what impact his decision made on his co-workers, but I know the impact it made on me. His example of integrity became a model for how I wanted to live my life. To this day, it has helped me understand how these very different scripture texts compliment each other. We need to seek Christ first, then we will know how to use our God-given talents to serve and glorify God, and not ourselves.
Have you ever sat down and made a list of your talents? Take some time to do so and write down how you use them most often? How is God calling you to use the talents He has given you to His glory? Are you just too busy to know for sure? When can you take some quiet time to pray, and let God’s quiet voice speak to your soul, and give you some guidance? When we learn to live our lives glorifying God we will live the most meaningful lives according to God’s plan when He created us.
To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, see www.lagrangepres.com.