An important lesson we can draw from the parable of the talents that we‘ve just heard is that if we don’t use an ability which we’ve been given, then it won’t be very long before that gift is taken away. If we don’t use it then we’ll lose it.
The parable compares life in the service of God to business life. It compares the use of everything that we have and do, in God’s service with the use of a financial loan in order to make a profit for the investor.
The reason the master is furious with the third slave, is that, for a businessman, the whole point of money is its use to make more money. As far as an Investment banker is concerned, money which is just hoarded or buried, might as well be thrown away.
In the same way, said Jesus, God’s gifts to us are to be spent and put into circulation. Our abilities are to be given away in God’s service, in order to become the source of further blessings for others and for ourselves. God is like the master in this story. He expects returns from the gifts he’s made. If we just try to preserve them, we shall lose them.
In order even to keep his talent the servant had to risk it. He didn’t risk it and he lost it. Likewise, all that God gives us is to be risked in his service. Every new step in God’s service is a risk, but if we stand still, paralysed by the fear of failure, then in fact, we shall lose even what we have.
Jesus summed this up when he said “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”
And so, it’s a part of our Christian journey to think about the way God would expect us to use the talents we’ve been given. But where do we begin?
Well, let’s concentrate on those gifts which we call “gifts of the Spirit”; an area which causes so much confusion. We all tend to think that spiritual gifts are rather special things which God gives to holy people in order that we might look up to them and, learn to be a bit more spiritual ourselves. But this is about as far from the truth as we can get.
In a letter to the Christians at Corinth St. Paul gave a lengthy list of gifts, because it seemed to him as though the Corinthian Christians were placing great emphasis on spectacular gifts like speaking in tongues, healing powers and miracles. Somethings don’t change very much do they?
St. Paul felt it necessary to point out that nobody received a gift as a personal reward. He taught that a gift was given in order to be used in building up the Church. And as soon as we understand this we begin to see that it doesn’t really matter who is in receipt of which particular gift. Because everything is to be shared.
So, where do we start? Well, we shouldn’t just wait around expecting that suddenly, for the good of the Church, God will provide us with the spiritual gift of his choice.
You know, whenever we place anything we have, in God’s hands and ask that it might be used according to his will to further the Kingdom, then what we have to give is immediately transformed by God into a spiritual gift.
There’s food for thought here, because it means that pretty much anything can be included. Paul’s list isn’t meant to be closed.
Maybe you’re aware of some particular ability which you possess, and so perhaps it would be good to begin by offering this to God, and having it transformed into a spiritual gift. You won’t know until you’ve tried.
And then, ask God to show you what gifts he wants to give you in order that you can give them away. You might be surprised at the answer you get.
But perhaps you feel you’ve nothing to offer. Well, if this is the case then you’re mistaken, and it’s time you spoke with your Christian brothers and sisters in order to give them the gift of discerning in you where you might begin.
You see, eventually, in his letter to Corinth, St Paul wrote words which have been quoted time after time. You may have heard them read at a wedding service. Here they are:
St Paul said:
“And now I will show you the most excellent way”.
And as we all know, that most excellent way is the way of love.
Yes, we can show love by being patient, gentle and kind, but we can also show it by affirming the working of God’s Holy Spirit in a fellow Christian.
So, when was the last time you followed this most excellent way by doing just that?
When did you last tell another Christian that they’d been blessed with a particular gift, and asked them what they were going to do with it? Because, you see, that’s a gift which we all have, and if we really want the Kingdom to grow, we should be looking for every opportunity to use it.