We all have exceptional skills or abilities that were given to us as a gift at birth. If we continually exercise these talents, we will fulfill our life’s purpose and become what God created us to be.
And there is really no other purpose to life than to become what God Created us to be.
In Biblical times, the word talent actually referred to an amount of money. But it is perfectly reasonable for the modern reader to see in this term its more common definition: a natural aptitude or skill that a person possesses.
Jesus speaks about talents in a passage in the Gospel of Matthew:
“For it will be as when a man going on a journey 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” (Matthew 25:14-15).
It is true that each of us possesses talents and abilities in varying degrees, but it is not what we were given that matters, it is what we do with what we were given. If you are familiar with the end of this parable in Scripture, you will remember that the Master expected the recipients of His gifts to do something with them, not simply to bury them and let them lie dormant. The Master demanded a full accounting of what had been done with the talents he had given.
“Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them” (Matthew 15:19).
The recipients of the talents did not know when the Master would return, but they were expected to spend their time doing something with what they had been given.
It is important for each of us to come to understand our true talents, and it is our responsibility to exercise them and increase them while we await the Master’s return. But there is an even more subtle and important message in this parable. You see, the talents we are given are not just a skill or ability we might exercise in our earthly life. Our talents have eternal application and consequences. If we doubt this, we need only read Matthew 25:31-46.
Because our talents are eternal, they are more significant than how we fulfill the roles we play in life. It is accurate to say our talents, or the gifts we received from God, are our life’s work. It does not matter whether we are a mother or father, lawyer or doctor, soldier or sailor, banker or baker, teacher or tailor, the skills and abilities required for these roles only represent a part of the true meaning and use of our talents.
A real-life example of this idea would help explain. There was a woman who worked for me many years ago. She was a wonderful administrative assistant and took care of every little detail of my busy schedule. At the same time, she was nursing her ailing husband, a Vietnam veteran with several challenging medical issues. I had immense appreciation for how she balanced all her responsibilities and still made time to care for her husband. I also had a good deal of sympathy for the exceedingly difficult hand she had been dealt by life.
Eventually, her husband succumbed to his medical challenges and passed away. She experienced grief, but I also witnessed how the burden of constant care for her husband was lifted off her shoulders – at least for a time.
You see, only a few months after her husband’s passing, this woman invited her ailing mother to move in with her. She soon found herself right back in the same situation, working full time and tending to a person who required constant care. When her mother passed away in her early 90s, my former employee then took on the task of helping to raise her daughter’s son. He was going through a particularly challenging time in his life, as so many teenagers will. When she had her grandson out of the woods, she immediately volunteered at a local charity outreach center assisting young couples in managing their home finances. This was something she had become quite good at over her longs years of service to others.
The point is, this woman, who was certainly a wonderful administrative assistant, exercised those same talents in a way that made her a great deal more. To this day she continually uses those talents to the fullest. What I originally perceived as her tough lot in life, was instead her opportunity to develop and use the very gifts God had given her to allow her to become what He had created her to be. She found her greatest fulfillment in being an ‘administrative assistant’ to others.
“As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” (1 Peter 4:10).
The same is true for anyone of the roles identified in the earlier list above. They are roles we play in life, but none of them, even mother or father, represent the breadth of who we are in Christ. Our talents have an eternal nature, and they must be exercised and increased until the day of the Master’s return.
It does not matter what our individual circumstances are, whether we are a parent, a teacher, a nurse or a bricklayer, whether we are old or young, healthy or ill, fully employed or retired. We all have talents that are expected to be developed, used and multiplied for the benefit of others. And these multiplied talents are the ones we will be rewarded for when the Master returns.
“And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Please take time this week to pray that we might all fulfill the remarkable purpose for which God created us and called us into being.
Copyright © Mark Danis
Image credit: “The Parable of the Talents” | Willem de Poorter, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons