“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”’ | Matthew 25:21
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The story of the bags of gold, a parable told by Jesus, goes a little like this: A man is about to go on a journey, so he calls on his servants to take care of his wealth while he is gone. To one he gives five bags of gold, to another two bags and to another one bag, “each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15). He then goes on his journey.
The servant who received five bags immediately puts the money to work and gains five more. The servant with two bags gains two more. The servant with one bag buries the money in the ground. The master returns from his journey and receives an update from each of the servants. His response to the first and second servants, is the one written above in verse 21, he’s ecstatic! But, he rebukes the third servant for not at the very least putting the money on deposit to earn interest.
Like the master in the parable, God gives His children gifts, each according to their ability. You may be an exceptional leader, singer, entrepreneur, communicator, helper, teacher, writer, artist – I could go on! Whatever gifts you have received, God has given you those gifts for a reason.
“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
Whatever the measure of gifts we have received, God expects us to use them to bless and serve others – to build His Kingdom. I believe that though many of us may share the same gifts, God has crafted those gifts in us in the most unique combinations, specific to our calling. When we “bury” them for fear of failing, inadequacy or what other people might think, we risk missing out on a crucial part of what God has called us to do.
To “steward” means to manage or look after (another’s property).
Consider that for a second – your gifts are actually not your own! In fact, they are a representation of the very nature of God which He deposits in us so that we may shine His glory.
Think about it this way, if a good friend of yours asks you to take care of their dog while they go away on vacation, wouldn’t you do everything you can to make sure that dog receives everything he/she needs? Food for sustenance, walks to exert energy, hugs and pats to show affection and build connection… Likewise, we need to invest time and resources into the gifts we have received to serve others. Only then will we grow in those gifts as God give us more in order to increasingly bless those around us.
Upon personal reflection after reading this parable, I discovered that I may regularly pray for the wisdom to faithfully steward what God has entrusted me with (finances, home, work, family, relationships, ministry) yet I rarely consider whether I am using the gifts and talents I have been given to build God’s Kingdom.
For so many years of my life, I struggled to even identify the gifts God had given me. I eventually received the revelation that I was focusing too much on gifting and not enough on character. God has taken me on a significant journey since then and I am so grateful for the work He has done on my character (as painful as it was) before revealing my gifts. Though some of those gifts have now been revealed to me, God has recently challenged me on the lack of attention I have given to one or two. With awareness comes responsibility!
It seems like a Type A personality thing to do, but I felt prompted to take an “inventory” of what God has given me and what I have been doing to water and grow in them. As I began to write, God took me deeper as I meditated on what it means to be a faithful steward. There are three key areas that I believe God has called us to be diligent and faithful stewards of what He has given us:
Provision – the things that we can see which God has provided us with here on earth; shelter, financial resources, friendships, family
Gifts – our natural abilities and talents
Passions – the things that stir us in a powerful way
Let’s delve a little deeper into passions. This is an area that God highlighted to me as I was working through my “inventory”. The things that we are passionate about are often inextricably linked with our gifts. Yet it can be so easy to dismiss a passion when the corresponding gift is not apparent to us. What if faithfully stewarding our passions is the very thing God is looking for? What if the pursuit of our passions leads us to discover the gifts we have received to outwork that passion?
Just like the good and faithful servant in the parable, God is waiting to see if we will be faithful with what He has given us now, even if it may not seem like much. If He can trust us with the little, He can trust us with much!