Are you using your God-given talents?
Though she was sitting at a table more than six feet from me, and her long, dark curls often hid them from view, I was captivated by her earrings. The jade and silver beads, accented by crystals, sparkled and reminded me how much you bless the giver when you use your gift well.
I was the giver. I had made the earrings and given them to Kaylen before she moved to California a couple of years ago.
On this day, she had taken a precious day of her vacation with family in South Florida to drive to what had been her hometown. She made the most of it, planning the day more than a month before. Then she drove the three hours to attend her church before her scheduled outdoor, socially distant event in which no more than 10 people would be gathered at one time.
She invited small groups of friends to join her for hour and a half time slots at Westside Park. When I arrived, I joined a small group of ladies, each at her own picnic table, protected from the sun by a small pavilion and surrounding trees. We chatted and connected — no hugs — as time disappeared too fast.
My birthday was the next day, and Kaylen had brought me a slice of birthday cake to celebrate. Though it touched my heart that she did that, it was the earrings that caught my attention and keep it still.
When you use a gift well, you honor the giver. That Kaylen thought to bring the earrings with her from California, remembered to wear them when she came to visit, that she chose to wear something I’d given her though she was spending time with potentially 30 people or more that day. Well, wow. I felt honored.
My mother, too, was a champion at remembering who had gotten her what gift, and she made sure she wore the clothes or jewelry she’d received when she was with the giver. I’d bought her some beautiful earrings, and she either always wore them or she purposely wore them when she knew I was going to visit.
Wearing the earrings showed me my mother appreciated my gift. That she made a point to wear them when she was with me showed me she remembered who had given her the gift. She associated me with the gifted earrings. Kaylen, I’m sure, did the same.
On my desk at work is a perpetual daily flip calendar with inspirational quotes and Scripture verses, a gift from a coworker for my most recent birthday. One of the first tasks I do each day is flip to the correct date. I am eager to see what the day’s page will read, of course, but I am also careful to use the flip calendar to communicate that I love and use the gift.
It’s something I learned from my mother. No words necessary.
What have you been given?
It strikes me that God gives me gifts. Some are externally facing — such as good health and a strong body; the ability to write and encourage others; a loving, growing family; a sense of humor and a knack for teaching. Some are internal — the things that touch my heart or give me joy or enable me to see another’s need.
I can best show God I am thankful for His gifts by using them. As my mother and Kaylen showed me, I can show Him I associate the gift with the Giver by making sure to use them when I’m with Him. How can I do that?
It’s simple: I should use the gifts He has given me to serve others. In the New Testament, the Bible tells us, “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, NIV)
Serving others is the same thing as serving God. Remember Jesus’ parable about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25? In it Jesus, as the Shepherd, separates the sheep from the goats based on how they served others. He rewarded the righteous sheep for giving Him food and drink, housing and clothing, care and fellowship.
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40, NIV)
God wants us to use our gifts to serve others. We honor the Giver when we use our gifts well.
A few years ago, my husband blessed me by giving me a gorgeous diamond necklace. It’s absolutely perfect, but I’m afraid to wear it because it might fall from my neck or attract attention by someone who might rob me. So I almost never honor him by using this precious gift well.
Use it or lose it?
It reminds me of the parable of the talents, also in Matthew 25. In that parable, the master gives three servants varying amounts of “talents” (a form of money, but the parallel to talents as we know them is too good to miss). One gets five talents, another two talents, and the third one talent, “each according to his ability.”
The two servants with multiple talents wisely invested them and doubled their talents. The one with a single talent dug a hole to hide his talent, in an effort to keep it safe.
In the story, the master declared the first two servants faithful, allowed them to continue stewarding their now-double talents, promised to entrust them with many things, and welcomed them to share in his happiness. The master rebuked the servant with one talent and took away the one talent he had. Instead of his master’s happiness, he was destined to suffer in darkness.
Could this parable of the talents suggest that we must use our talents — or lose them? It certainly suggests that our talents are not our property; we are simply God’s servants stewarding the gifts He has given us. Those who handle talents wisely may receive more.
Consider this. Is my husband likely to gift me more expensive jewelry if I never wear what I already have? I think not. But aren’t I more likely to bless Kaylen with more gifts — because she has honored me by wearing the earrings I made her?
Here’s my takeaway:
How are you using the talents and gifts God has given you? Do you give Him honor by using them well? Or do you allow fear or disillusionment or lethargy to stop you from using your gifts as you might?
Use your gifts to serve others — and in doing so, serve Christ. It shows you associate the Giver with the gift and honors Him. And, maybe, if you show yourself faithful, God will entrust you with more.
(On a purely human level, make sure you show appreciation for a gift by using it well. You’ll bless the giver, and the giver just might want to bless you with more gifts. As for me? I need to start wearing my diamond necklace.)