See, You Have what is Yours
Jesus shows, in the parable of the talents, that when the Master gives “talents,” gifts, or abilities, then He expects His servants not just to have and keep them, but to use them well and strive to excel. Talents are forms of money here, but let’s follow the principle. The five talent man and the two talent man both doubled their talents, but the one talent man hid his talent then simply showed it once again when the Master returned: “See, you have what is yours.” He didn’t lose it, but he never tried to use it or increase it. He just sat on it, and while he thought it might be enough, it wasn’t: “You wicked and slothful servant!…” (Matt 25:14-30)
The problem is one of being satisfied with just getting by. What is the least I can do without completely losing it? What do I “have to” do? Mediocre is ok in this mindset. Just do the minimal amount and you’ll be fine. The problem is, for the child of God, this is not ok, and it won’t be fine because it is a form of laziness that the Lord does not accept.
How much do I have to do to go to heaven? How much do I need to go to church? What is the minimal amount I have to do and still get by? Over my years of teaching, I have heard, “C’s get degrees.” If this is an argument for mediocrity, the child of God should know better. I am not saying you have to have a college degree to go to heaven. You don’t have to go to college at all. You don’t have to have straight A’s to be right with God. That’s not the point. We always told our children that if a B or C is the best you can do in a subject, then we are happy with that and it is nothing to be ashamed of. But if you can do better, and a lower grade is a result of a lack of effort, then this is not acceptable. When Christians undertake something, how we go about it says much about our mindset and our attitude toward serving the Lord. Serving the Lord is an all-the-time commitment that extends to every activity in which we engage, whether college, trade, family, or … name it. It includes those matters that we would prefer not to do. I may not like taking out garbage, but I need to do it correctly and with a good attitude.
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24; cf. Eccl 9:10).
People have differing skills and strengths. Some will be better than others at whatever activity we can discuss. But my efforts are not to be based on what others do or how good I am relative to others. My efforts are to be based on my being a child of God in service to the Lord. We must not be satisfied with a “just do what you have to to get by” mentality, for we know the Lord isn’t pleased with mediocre, haphazard effort. “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God” (1 Pet 4:10; cf. Rom 12:3-8). Maybe I’m not the best singer, but when I sing to praise God and edify others, I need to do it to the best of my ability.
Are we giving our best efforts in service to God and others? I am certain that most of us (self included) would say that we can put more into what we do. We can’t do everything, so choices must be made. Balance is needed. But when we do make our choices, what kind of effort are we giving? This won’t earn us salvation, but what is the cost of not giving our best? I may be a one talent man, but what am I doing with that talent? I cannot afford to say to the Lord, after hiding my talent and only doing what I “have to” do, “See, You have what is Yours.” He won’t be pleased.
Consider Paul’s exhortation: “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith; if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Rom 12:3-8, CSB)
How much effort will you expend in response to the abilities God has given to you?