I don’t think many know that I am discipling a couple of younger men to be youth ministers at my church. I have turned over the keys to my ministry, Burning Hearts to a couple of amazing young men. I am teaching them to teach others. It is at times cringe worthy and at other times it is a joy to see their progress. Much like training up your own children can be. At times you watch from a distance as they mess up. You correct and teach them to learn from that mistake. At other times you are beaming at the progress they make, first steps, first words, and many other examples like it. My boys are learning to trust, and they are using their gifts, time, and God given abilities for the kingdom, and I could not be prouder. They are not master Jedi yet, but they are pretty good padawan learners. Listening to one of them teach Sunday morning, has sparked my soul to teach about the importance of using your God given gifts for the kingdom.
If you turn in your bibles to Matthew chapter 25, you find Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. Starting at verse 14 we read, for it will be like a man going on a journey, who 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. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, “Master, you have delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, “Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So, take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have and abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14-30 ESV)
Where to begin? There is so much information in this passage. The kingdom of heaven, which Jesus constantly preached was at hand, (meaning it is here among us) is important to understand. We may live in the real world, but if we are saved, we are also working in a kingdom not seen by human eyes, the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus left, he entrusted us with property that was precious to him. When he returns, he wants to see what we invested in, and how we used his precious gifts. To understand this further we must we understand what a talent is. Not talking bout talents like tap dancing, or singing, not that kind of talent. In old testament times, the talent was used as a measurement of precious metals. Seventy-five pounds of a precious metal, gold, silver, bronze, is equal to one talent. In new testament times it was still used to measure precious metals, most specifically coins. One talent was equal to 6,000 denarii. A denarius was equal to payment for one day’s wage. So, a talent in this parable is equal to 6,000 days wage or 75lbs of a precious metal. You can think of it either way. All that matters is, God gives each of us a precious gift worth more than we can imagine. To some he gives 5 times as much, to others he gives 2 times as much, and to some he gives just one precious gift. When he comes, he expects to settle accounts. He will take into account everything we did with these precious gifts. How we invest them. When he comes will he find you faithful? Will he call you slothful and wicked? It depends on you.
So, this begs another question, what are these gifts? They are manifestations of the Spirit of God used for the betterment of the kingdom and the body of believers. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ESV). Paul continues by listing what kind of gifts are given by the Spirit, utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. In the book of Romans, he gives a different list of gifts, prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation, generosity, leading, and mercy. But the point is the same in both passages. God has equipped the body of believers with different gifts and abilities for the betterment of the body and the kingdom. What is your gift? Not all are teachers, not all are generous, not all are good at exhortation, but everyone can serve in some manner.
Service is one area where we can all find something to use for the common good. Can you sing like an angel? Are you a musician? Can you design a website? Are you good at Facebook? Accounting? Can you greet people? Can you carry a communion tray? Is organization your thing? Can you clean like a professional? All these can be used as service to the body of Christ. Where do you plug into church? There are a lot of churches out there, hurting, looking for someone, anyone, to step in and fill a need. There are also a lot of people who need to hear the gospel, need a listening ear, need to know someone loves them. What are you doing with your precious gifts? Where are you investing them? Are you like the slothful servant and just hiding it in the ground because you are unsure or uncomfortable with the investment process? Not all of us are called to be in the forefront with our gifts, some gifts can be used in the background. Paul says, not all parts of the body are the same, some are unpresentable parts and we should bestow on them more honor. The ones working the background should have more honor. But regardless we should all be doing something. We are all members of one body. Nowhere in any of the passages about the body of Christ does it mention retirement from the body, stopping ministry because you are too old. No where does it mention that age is a restriction, in fact Jesus says, “let the little children come to me.” Most importantly it doesn’t say that there should ever be anyone sitting on the sidelines. Benchwarmers are like the servant who was given a talent and buried it in the ground. He was called worthless, and slothful. Please do not attend church just to be a Sunday morning pew warmer. You are called to work as well.
When the master came to settle accounts, he was impressed with the two who went out and invested. The last servant is told, “You ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.” What is the minimum? What does God expect of all his believers? How do we invest in this bank? I am not a Bible scholar. I did not attend seminary, but I believe the answer can be found in a couple of scriptures. The bear minimum, the lowest level of investment that would give God his own plus interest, is discipleship. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul tells Titus, Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. (Titus 2:3-6). It seems pretty cut and dry to me, we should all be making disciples somewhere. The older women teaching the younger, as well as the older men teaching the younger. We should always be making disciples, who will in turn, make disciples. That is the great commission. That is what God expects all his servants to do with the precious gift God has given them.
When we prove ourselves with the gifts God has given us, he will give us more to invest. If we prove ourselves wicked and slothful, he will take away his gift. To whom much is given much more will be given, according to the parable above. So, let me ask, what are you doing for the kingdom? How are you using the precious gift God has given you? Are you giving all you have to the kingdom? Are you one with 5 talents going for 10, two talents trying for 4, are you doing the bear minimum and making disciples so God gets some interest back? Or are you simply playing it safe, sitting on the sideline, warming a pew week after week?
I know this is pretty hard to digest. I know to some reading this, it sounds blasphemous. I am really not trying to step on any toes here. I am simply trying to call us to action. To use our gifts to better our churches, our cities, and the kingdom of God. In the beginning I mentioned my own disciples. Two men I have taken under my wing. As an older man (middle aged really), I am simply following the command to teach the younger men. It takes one small step to invest your gift. For me it started by cleaning the church years ago. Donating a small amount of time to keep the place clean. That gift brought another opportunity to use a second gift, music. I learned to play the bass for the worship team. These small investments and saying yes to the opportunities have led me to being the Youth Pastor for the last 10 years, a teacher, and exhorter, a leader, a drummer, and a disciple maker. Using your gifts to invest in the kingdom is rewarding. Storing up treasure in Heaven. If you start investing small, it will yield a return. Take it from a guy who started small. Then invested a little bigger, and a little bigger. You never know where the gifts will take you. We may never know the return on our investment until the master comes, but I for one never want to hear, “wicked and slothful servant. When my master comes, I want to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of your master.” May we all strive to hear those words. Start somewhere. Start with something. Invest in someone, and you will hear those words from the master.