…Unto one he gave five…, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability…
One day a rather humorless CEO called in his three top managers to discuss his upcoming trip. As they sat around the massive mahogany table sipping French pressed coffee, the CEO began barking his instructions. To the first man, he said, “I’m having our financial officer direct deposit $5,500,000* into your account.” To the second woman, he said, “The financial officer is depositing $4,500,000* into your account.” And to the last person, he said, “You will be receiving $1,150,000*.” He continued, “I’ll be out of the country for quite a while, and you are to invest these funds. When I return, I expect all the funds with a profit. Is that clear?”
Each of the managers contemplated how best to follow their CEO’s directive. The first two were more comfortable than the last. Finally, the day of reckoning came. The boss came home and called the managers back to his office. Again, they were all seated around the mahogany table drinking their specialty coffee when the CEO began, “Now tell me what you did with my money.” The first manager said, “I put it all in equities and made five times as much.” “Great work,” the boss replied. The second manager replied, “I invested your funds in bonds, and I realized twice as much as you gave me.” “Good thinking,” said the CEO. The third nervous manager said, “I knew you were a hard-nosed financier, so I took the money and locked it up in my desk.” At that, the boss was infuriated. “You knew that I’m a shrewd investor and yet you took the money entrusted to you and locked it in your drawer? For all this time? Go get that money and divide it between your two co-workers. YOU’RE FIRED.”
Of course, this is a contemporary re-telling of Jesus’ Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25. It is not instruction for how to handle money but rather how to handle the gifts that each of us is given. (For lists of those gifts, see Romans 12:3-9, Ephesians 4:2-12, I Corinthians 12:1-31, I Peter 4:10, 11.) The gifts are given to us to bless and strengthen the Church, those brothers and sisters we have in the Lord. And while we’re at it, they can be used to attract what one writer calls pre-Christians. In false modesty, don’t downplay and underestimate what God has placed within you. Your gift may be something that not everyone will see or notice or it may be something that must be done with an audience. Whatever it is, you are unequivocally told to use it. You may never know how significantly your talent touches another life, but obedience is the mandate. If you choose not to exercise, or to hide, your gift, the whole Church (not the institution, but the Body) will suffer.
Take time this week to prayerfully determine what special gift God has placed in you. Take it out of the drawer and dust it off. Then begin to use it for God’s glory, the blessing of his people, and your gratification. Not my words—God’s.
Father, in all honesty, you don’t need us, but you’ve chosen to include us in your great Church. Embolden us to present to you those gifts you’ve given us to use as you will. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.
*These funds are conversions based on the average U.S. manager’s annual salary in multiples of 1, 2, and 5.