So I'm gonna remain in one of the verses that I talked about in my last post. I mentioned the parable of the servants and the bags of silver they were entrusted with. In this post, I'm going to address the bags of silver instead of the servants specifically.
“After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
“The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’
“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:19-23
This version refers to bags of silver but the kjv calls them talents. Based on the context of the parable, it would be easy to assume this isn’t really talking about money but rather refers to our spiritual gifts or the divine talents gifted to us by the Holy spirit and Jesus himself (Eph 4:7-8).
The Bible lists all the different types of spiritual gifts in Romans 12:6-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
But why does God give us these gifts? What are they for? I think for me the answer starts in Philippians 2:13.
"for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."
God gives us the tools that we need to satisfy Him and His purpose. But the thing is, He can hand us over the written check, but if we don't cash it, then it's useless. That's what's happening here. The first two men ‘invested’ the money and doubled what they were given.
What are you doing with the gifts/talents God has given you, how are you using them to “invest” into his Kingdom? What might that look like? For me it's this blog. I believe that one of my spiritual gifts is the gift of teaching. I love knowledge and information. I love to find the truths in God's word. I could literally spend all my time reading in the historical books of the Bible because I love facts. So much so, that I have to be careful not to be too critical of hearing different types of preaching. I even sometimes get frustrated when I hear a sermon with minimal scripture usage. But it's also helpful for me because I can tell when something spoken is inline with God's word (or not).
Some of the other areas I believe God has gifted me in are leadership, administration, faith, mercy and discernment. How I use each of those may look different at different times, but I try my best to serve His church and the body to the best of my ability. Sometimes that's in my role at work, sometimes that's in my own home, sometimes it's in my local church or ministry and sometimes it's just throughout my life and regular routines. Where you serve is between you and the Lord, but it's important that we use whatever He's given us to invest back into growing His kingdom.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
What happens when we are good stewards of what He's given us? Let's look at the original verse. They are told because they were faithful with a small amount now they will be given many more responsibilities. I touched base on this in my last post, so I won't go to deep into this, but let's talk about it in terms of spiritual gifts. When we use whatever gifts He has given us and we cultivate them and help them grow, then He can trust us with more.
If the Lord gave you additional spiritual gifts during this season, do you think you would be prepared for them and how do you see yourself effectively using them to better His kingdom? My husband acts in the prophetic and exhortation, but if he kept all his visions to himself how would that benefit God's kingdom? He actually "practices" these gifts by sharing them and the more he shares them the more often he gets them. For me, the more I teach, the more comfortable I am and the more I study, thus the more God shows me and uses me to teach more. And through both of these examples, we've developed other gifts.
Now I should be super clear that any way you serve the kingdom is awesome and I believe is God approved. I don't think God would want us to "obsess" with questions like what is my gifting, or what is my calling etc. But, I will say that I LOVE personality tests of all sorts. (I've been known to spend an hour or more taking buzzfeed tests ranging from what disney princess I am to what 90's celebrity best suits me.....Don't do this! Trust me, it's a rabbit hole you don't want to go down). That being said there are tons of fun little quizzes you can take that can give you some insight into the spiritual gifts listed in the Bible and give you an understanding of where your specific skill set could be used if you are unsure where to start. (I'll add a link below to one of my favorites)
Let's remember though that none of the spiritual gifts we possess are ours nor should they be used for our own purposes (check out the story in Acts 16 about the fortune teller). Everything the Lord gives us is by His grace, but we do have a choice in how we use our gifts to impact God's kingdom. It's the same with the servants from our scripture, they were just stewards over their masters' property. What they were given and what they earned was not their own. That's why the Bible says we aren't to boast (Jer 9:23).
Sometimes we don't even know how effective our works in the Kingdom can be, we just need to be obedient. We may not know if what we're doing is drawing people to Christ or if they're receiving our words at all, but maybe we're just their to plant the seeds. And sometimes we're seeing something come to life that was the workmanship of someone long before us. John 4:37-38 God sent us to harvest something that we didn’t sow. We must work hard to serve God's kingdom, not to elevate ourselves but to honor God.
We don't want to end up like the last servant. The master called him wicked and lazy and then took all he was given and gave it to another man. The others went to work with what they were given. He buried it. The bible talks about how idleness is wicked in the eyes of the Lord (Prov 16:27-29).
At the end of the passage we are reminded that this parable was used to describe the kingdom of heaven. At the end, we will be judged by our roles as stewards over what god had given us to do (and use). If we are not responsible for what we were given, then God will order us to be thrown into hell (Matt 25:30). Harsh! I know, but those aren't my words they're Jesus's. But remember that's not God's desire for us.
I think there are some people who can't see how good God is and how like any parent He wants us to succeed. He wants to give us the best life, Jesus said he came to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10). The last servant couldn't get his mind around that. He says to his master, I knew you to be a harsh man, reaping what you did not sow and gathering what you didn’t cultivate. It wasn't the master who wasn't good but the poor beliefs and character of the man. It's the same in our world. Read Ezekiel 18:25-29, it talks about how we believe God isn't fair and how it's not God but us who are not doing what is right. We confuse the two. We have to live knowing that we will have to give an account for the way we lived and what we did with what we were given. It's on us to make the best choices and apply what we learn from His word to our lives.
I heard a sermon that talked about how we don’t properly care for what we haven’t invested in ourselves. It’s easier to quit a marriage that you barely started than divorce someone you’ve been with for 20 something year. Or to quit a job that you don’t seem to be benefiting from rather than invest the time and “cultivate” the areas that need it to grow. The more that we invest into God's kingdom the more attached we will be to it.
Plant the seeds that He gives you. Apply His word to your life and He will be faithful to you as well.