USE IT OR LOSE IT
Devotional for November 19, 2017 based upon Matthew 25: 14-30
In the parable for this morning Jesus is talking about money. But He is talking about something far more important than money. He is talking about life. In the parable of the talents Jesus is giving us four principles on how we should invest our lives.
First, WE ARE GIVEN OPPORTUNITIES ACCORDING TO OUR ABILITIES. The servants were not given the same amount. To one servant the master entrusted five talents, to another two, and to another only one. Just like in life today. We do not all get equal opportunity because we do not all have equal ability, and we do not all share the same level of commitment.
So sometimes, instead of looking at all the opportunities that God has given us, we look at all the opportunities that He has not given us. We look at what He has given to someone else rather than to us. So then, instead of making the most of what we do have, we fret over what we do not have. Instead, what we need to do is to take inventory of all that we have been given and then ask ourselves, Am I investing it, or am I burying it?
Most of us probably feel like either the two-talent guy or the one-talent guy. Very few, if any of us, feel like the five-talent guy. The difference in what the one-talent guy and the two-talent guy started out with was not all that much. But the difference in what they ended up with was substantial. And why? Because one took what he had and made use of it, while the other one took what he had and buried it. If God has given someone else more than He has given you, that is never an excuse to waste it.
SECOND, FAITHFULNESS IS ALWAYS REWARDED. Did you notice that the master spoke the exact same words to the man who had been given two talents as he said to the man who had been given five talents? “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Both had been faithful with what they had been given. So both of them were promoted. Even though their original resources were not equal, their effort and faithfulness were equal. Whether you are faithful with a little or faithful with a lot, faithfulness is always rewarded.
God is looking for those who will be faithful in the little things so that He can entrust them with bigger things. In God’s economy, one of the biggest rewards for doing a good job is being given a bigger job. Being responsible always leads to more responsibility.
Third, THE ONLY REAL FAILURE IN LIFE IS GIVING UP AND DOING NOTHING. The servant who had received only one talent might have thought, “What if I were to take this money and lose it? It’s a whole lot safer just to do nothing.” So that is what he did – nothing.
The other two servants had doubled the master’s money. Maybe that was something that the third servant was not able to do. What could he do? He could have taken the master’s money and put it into a low-risk, low-return account. So when the master returned, he could have said, “I know my colleagues doubled your money. I do not have the ability to do that. So I did do what I could do. I put your money into a safe account at a safe bank, and the amount has increased by 3 % a year.” What do you think the master would have said then? I believe that if that truly was the best that third servant could do, then the master would have said to him exactly the same thing that he said to the others – “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The reason why the master was so angry with this third servant was because he had just buried the talent and had done nothing. He did not even try.
Someone once said, Our greatest regrets at the end of our lives will be all the missed opportunities. We will grieve far more over what we did not do than over what we did do. The only real failure in life is giving up and doing nothing. Because when we do nothing, we close the door to the possibility of God’s doing something really special in and through us.
Today, as you look back on your life, do you realize that you have squandered some opportunities that God has given you in the past? Do you realize that you have some ability that lies buried in the sand? If that is the case, then get out that shovel and start digging. Unbury what you have buried and put it to use. Do what you can with what you have left. For accomplishing a little is far, far better than accomplishing nothing at all. The only real failure in life is giving up and doing nothing.
And then, fourth, USE IT OR LOSE IT. In Jesus’ parable the master said, “So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” You have been given certain skills – certain abilities. The more you use them, the better you will get at them. But if you do not use them, you will eventually lose even what you do have.
And then I would like to close by looking at five words that Jesus used to describe what the one who had been given the five talents did. HE WENT OFF AT ONCE. He went off at once and traded them and made five talents more. He went off at once. He got started immediately. Whatever it is that you want to accomplish in your life – whatever it is in your life that you want to change – whatever it is that you feel God is calling you to do – do something about it today. To finish it and to fully complete it may take days, weeks, months, even years. Get started and do something about it today.
Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE