Summary: Parable of the Talents warns us to use what God gives us, and to use it well.
Using What God Gave You
Purpose Driven Life #32
April 17, 2004
You have considered who you are, over the past few weeks, in looking to understand where you are to fit into the family of God. Four weeks back, we considered the subjects of the spiritual gifts you have received and your heart and desire for matters. Then, we considered your aptitudes, your personality, and your experiences. All five of these virtues are what make you and are what God has built into you and what God wants you to use in order to do what God has in mind for you to be doing.
I hope you’ve discovered some interesting things that you might not have focused on before. I hope you’ve received a bit of encouragement, too, through this process. I hope you’ve realized that you have a unique shape- that’s the acronym we are working with- and that you are to use that uniqueness in order to do what God intends.
There’s a Danish proverb that says, "What you are is God’s gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to God."
This is echoed in an ancient story.
Matt.25.14ff- the parable of the talents. Let’s examine this and consider what it is telling us, or confirming for us. What is most clear in this parable is that we’re not meant to sit on our abilities- we’re not meant to sit on our shape. We’re meant to use it and to develop it, to whatever degree we have before us.
We’re just getting into the camp planning phase of the year, and one thing we’re trying to do better is to identify future leaders and to intentionally work with them toward their being useful for camp in the future. We speak to them and encourage these youth to develop themselves. I spoke with several, last year, and asked them to take advantage of opportunities that came to them to learn and develop. Sometimes, these are in the schools. Sometimes, they are in the community- at a community centre. Sometimes, this involves taking a class or course that someone might not, at first, think of taking, but that might lead to some challenging, rounding, improving.
The reality of the Christian walk is that we’re not finished creatures. We are always developing. The reality of Christian doctrine is the same. Have you considered this? I’ve heard some ’stand on doctrine’, and I’ve done my share of it in the past. We must understand that doctrine is NOT the most important thing. Having ’correct doctrine’ is impossible. Doctrine is something that describes what we understand, at a moment in time, about a particular subject- be it God, Christ, Holy Spirit, the church, government, worship, or whatever. Do not allow yourself to exalt doctrine above Jesus Christ. Doctrine only ’approaches’ the subject it addresses. Jesus is greater than doctrine, for instance, about Jesus. Do you understand this reality? It’s important. (Consider John 5.39ff- and the Pharisees, who sought accurate doctrine, but who missed what it was all about. Even the disciples understood that you can’t take the teaching and leave the Teacher- John 6.68. Even the recorded words of Jesus are not Jesus.)
You and I are to be growing- we cannot stop. This is a lifelong process of becoming what Jesus in us wants to be.
You are what God has helped you, so far and to the degree you have yielded to Him, to be. Don’t wish for something else. Don’t feel you’ve been given little or much. Realize you’ve been given what you’ve been given and go forward with it.
Ro.9.20-21. God has a sovereign purpose in mind for your life- don’t resent it or reject it, but, rather, celebrate the shape God has given only to you. With your shape will be limitations- none of us is good at everything and no one is called to do everything. We are not to do all ministries. We’re a body, needing each other, and as we have each other, and use our individual shapes…and our congregational shapes… the work God wants done will be done. Each of us has boundaries to our service, and God assigns these, too.
2 Cor.10.13- our goal is to stay within the boundaries God gives us. Your shape determines your specialty. If you try to overextend your ministry reach beyond what God shaped you for, you’ll experience stress. It’s like runners in a race having individual lanes to run in- that’s how our service boundaries can be- the goal is to finish, not to run in someone else’s lane.
Ga.6.4- God wants you to enjoy using the shape he has given you. Satan, on the other hand, will try to steal your joy from you. Don’t let him steal your joy, though. He’ll try to tempt you to compare your ministry with others and he’ll try to tempt you to conform your ministry to the expectations of others. Both are traps that will distract you from serving in the ways God intended. If your joy in ministry or serving is less, look at whether one of these temptations is the cause.