Don’t Bury Your Talent!
“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 15:14-30
This article and issue is very close to home for me and I see it almost daily in the culture surrounding me. I continually ask God to examine my own heart as well and seek the best way to be good steward of all the Lord has provided to me. I don’t usually post an article that directly addresses something in a black/white sort of way. But I have decided to post this article anyway. My readers, you are on this journey with me and I know you will provide grace where I am wrong and hopefully walk away with understanding of an issue very dear to my heart.
I feel our culture today has been blinded and is operating under a lie that affects our Christian walk. Well there are other lies, actually, but this article is only about one. The lie we accept and tend to believe that I want to discuss here is summed up as: “to each his own”. Other times I’ve heard it under the catchphrase “live and let live”. And to a certain extent, I get it. What makes me happy may not be the same thing that others need to be happy. We have different personalities and gifts and we can’t all be happy doing the same thing. Individualism helps the world go-round. There are parameters in which these phrases can be used and be considered truth. But in general these are pushed to the extreme in our society to the point of enabling.
I am the type of person that has had to legitimately struggle through each day the past 27 years of my life. No, you won’t see a whole lot of my struggles slammed on Facebook or my blog. You won’t see the tears or the hardships that often even my husband doesn’t see. I don’t want to spend my time honoring the negativity in my life because I am only here to worship God. But I will say this: I am not the person inside that I am on the outside. I am not an amputee on the inside. I don’t have any of the health issues that my physical body does in my mind. Yes, sometimes I get up and forget that I have one leg and almost fall. In my perception I believe that if I had two legs I could be much happier because many of my daily struggles would be gone. To know what it is to walk without pain or struggle and to have two free hands to simply dangle when I walked would be a huge mood-enhancer for me every day. Yet there is no “change” operation to fix that (like a sex-change). Ask any aging person if they feel as old as they look? Most of them feel like the young person they once were in an odd body. No cosmetic surgery will add more years to their life. Aging is a fact of life no matter how unhappy that makes a person.
Likewise, there is no way I can change my identity to NOT be an amputee. It is the circumstance that God has allowed me to have and I must live with that and work with what He has given me. I must find ways to be happy, ways to make the most of my life, my health, and the resources that I do have. In life I must choose to not let depression overcome me or take the drugs freely offered in prescription for the pain. It doesn’t matter if God intended me to be this way or not, the fact is I am an amputee on the outside and I will stay that way (most likely) the rest of my life. I need to accept it, grow in spite of it, and move on. (Without causing a ruckus, you can most likely gather where I stand about transgender and sex-change operations based on this paragraph.)
Of course my disability isn’t as extreme as many, but it is there. PTSD, Hypothyroidism, Diabetes, 60% Hearing loss, Anxiety, and Hypertension only expound on the already brutal battle that I face each day. But when help is handed to me or I am given a chance to better myself I still take it. Whether help is in the form of a magazine article I stumble across or a friend helping in my garden. Why bother? It won’t make my leg grow back. This is why: I refuse to allow the external lack of a physical limb determine my quality of life.
When I was diagnosed with any of those conditions listed above of course I was sad. Of course! I’m not saying to push through and ignore grieving bad news. I allow a day or two (no more than a week) to grieve bad news and think about all the ways that my life is affected by that news. I sympathize and empathize with my situation. But within a few days of a shocking blow like a diagnosis or other bad news I force myself to pull up my bootstrap (pun intended) and give it to God. God knows I need another leg, God knows I struggle, God knows my plague. And he allows this which means that He also provides a way for me to be content and continue growing in spite of it. Giving it to God doesn’t mean I ignore it or I forget it. It doesn’t mean that I simply keep on doing what I have always been doing because “God’s got my back”. No, that is a lie of complacency I will not live. God gave me a brain (talent) and a means of choosing a lifestyle (investing that talent) that will honor him and make a difference.
When we pray for the homeless we also take them a meal. If a friend is moving we pray for them and then load up our truck and help them. Why would it be different in our own lives? Faith and Deeds go hand in hand, the book of James tells us. When we pray for healing we also should be evaluating the ways we can make changes, then act on those changes. It isn’t fair to God to shove it all off on him and then bury our heads (talents) in the sand. It isn’t showing love to God (our master of talents) when we say “I love and trust God to protect me”, and then choose to do nothing (bury our talent) when He has handed us the keys to invest. He has gifted us with more resources today than any other time in the history of mankind. It is up to us to make use of them and make our own choices.
If someone asks me if I have heard about a remedy or a way to better myself I always listen. Even if, after prayer, I do not feel it is right for me. When I am approached by friends that may see a pattern in my life that is destructive I am careful to take heed and analyze my own heart before God. It isn’t easy being on the convicted end of things because it requires action on my part. It requires humility and a willingness to admit that maybe, just maybe, I’ve been making some poor choices. This is part of investing the talent God has given me.
How can I pray for healing from diabetes if I continue eating processed, carbs-filled meals and snacks that I know will work against that? How can I continue believing for my thyroid levels to come to normal if I don’t even get off my butt and exercise? Hypertension can often be controlled/minimized with dietary changes and exercise too! Now I also must be clear here, I realize a lot of conditions are hereditary but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t partner with God and make changes to the best of my ability while praying for God’s healing touch. And there are times when I believe God does heal miraculously without an ounce of faith or action on our part. But in my own life, I have found that in making choices and taking action to partner with God it is THEN that faith is released and provision comes from heaven. There is no change on earth that will make my leg grow back, but I can keep my body healthy otherwise through healthy choices. To me, that is true faith. Doing all I can to partner with God while believing for that which I don’t yet see manifested.
It is NOT easy to be a take-charge person in the midst of struggle. It is also NOT easy to be a self-motivated person. In order to be self-motivated we need to be willing to confront the problems we face head on, including the pain they bring us. I am always amazed at the number of people that I meet either diagnosed with diabetes or predisposed to it that have not made a single change to their lifestyle. These people always commend me and say
something like “I am just not self-motivated like you”. (“To each his own” mentality.) I used to walk away and feel bad for them but now I have a new response. “Self motivation? Well, I live with one leg every day and I know a lot of diabetics lose their legs . I only have one to lose. What more motivation would be needed? Only YOU can choose motivation.” Unfortunately, while designed and stated to make people think, more often than not I simply get a response like “I’m trusting God” and a change of subject in response. We need to wake up!
The biggest lie in the “live and let live” mentality is the root that believes that ones own actions affect no one else. That is very selfish and immature thinking full of pride. God’s Word is clear that we are all a part of the a larger body of believers. (1 Cor 12:27) He makes it clear that we are all important parts of the body and that we need and rely on one another. There is unity in the body and by definition each part affects the others. Each of us is surrounded with people that care about and love us. Whether this group of people is in our church, our friendships, our family, our children, or our work environment, when we are not making the right choices it affects every person around us. If you do not take care of your body and lifestyle it will affect the people that are around you. Down the road your children will be the ones affected by either losing you at a young age, or being forced to take care of you physically, or even foot the bill for your care. When you lie to your family or sweep the past under the carpet then relationships are affected by that neglect and they will not trust you. When you do not consider being there or helping others that you know full well need help it affects them and will come full circle when you are seeking help. Why is it that our culture does not seem to see this? You reap what you sow; why is this most basic and ancient of principles in nature so hard for us to grasp?
Don’t take me wrong: I do not believe in looking down on people in their struggles or being judgmental towards their heart intentions. Only God can judge a heart, only God can judge a situation accurately. But I feel we have confused accountability for judgment in such a way that we are now enabling an entire generation. Accountability is being held responsible for my own actions. Judgment is different. For instance, if I go to work and I do not do my job my boss will approach me and correct me. That doesn’t mean he is judging me or looking down on me, it means he is holding me accountable for my actions. I had a job to do, I agreed to do that job, I didn’t do it. The boss is not the “bad guy”, I am.
Shouldn’t the same be true for our loved ones around us? Shouldn’t we care about friends and family enough to help hold them accountable and be accountable ourselves in the body of Christ to keep all of us moving forward to be best used by Christ? Under this “live and let live” mentality any truth given in love or any confrontation is immediately labeled as judgment and “UN-Christ-like” behavior. We forget that Christ himself took the judgment and pain of our bad choices and died so that we can have the freedom to choose a better way of living!
When we ignore the truth and make bad choices we are simply passing on the pain to the people that are near us. Any parent knows that. “Kids, you can’t write on the walls because it will decrease the value of our home and it will take me hours to repaint over that which means I will have less time to spend with you”. Our children have the pain passed on to them when adults choose an affair that splits the home. Our community is affected in valuation when someone does not maintain their lawn or take care of the home God gave them to be stewards of. Our country is affected when citizens do not vote for an upstanding candidate simply because they are tired of the campaigning. And I have already sufficiently covered how our loved ones are affected by conscience unhealthy choices. (When someone is ill then their loved ones have to cook or do the dishes and cleaning. When someone does not take care of their body as God designed then they are causing their family to be in emotional pain and heartbreak.) And I can go on and on from here.
Live and let live? To each his own? Let’s be real, friends. Let’s see the doors of opportunity placed before us and go through. Let’s recognize that it took the son of God to die on the cross to give us this chance to use our minds to make choices of wisdom. Let’s realize that someone, Jesus, paid the price for us to live in freedom and we are squandering it away in foolishness. Let’s take the talents given to us and apply them as in the parable! It’s not always easy, it doesn’t always produce immediate results, but it is right. I would rather die doing all I can do to be a responsible steward with my life than live a thousand years selfishly consumed and causing destruction around me.
Receiving Grace and what God has done for us doesn’t mean complacency. It means partnering with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, in wisdom. It means being responsible for ourselves and our own actions. It means being accountable and wanting to move towards Jesus and peace with others. Live and Let live? I want to change that to a new phrase: “Live and Choose LIFE”. To Each His Own? Nah, I am God’s Own. True life in Christ is a life worth living.
Prayer & Contemplation:
- Have I said “Live and Let Live” before? Has the idea of this phrase permeated my own thinking in an ungodly way?
- What areas of my life am I complacent? What ways have I buried talents and not partnered with God for change in my life?
- Spend some time in Worship. Thank Jesus for what He died for. Allow the truth of His sacrifice to wash over you. Meditate on the ways that He paid the price for us to make free choices to honor God.
- Am I enabling people around me by not holding them accountable for their choices? Am I picking up slack from their bad choices that God doesn’t want me picking up? How can I bring truth and boundaries to those relationships?
- Take time to list the problematic circumstances you face and pray for. Ask God if there is anything you can do to partner with Him while praying for the outcomes.