One of our pastors preached on the parable of the talents recently, and the truths in this teaching seemed to coincide with several ideas that God has been teaching me lately regarding faithfulness in my work. Be sure to check out the sermon here.
If you’re not familiar with this parable that Jesus tells, it comes in Matthew 25 (go read it). A master gives varying amounts of talents to three servants. The first two double the amount given, but the third buries his talent. When the master returns, the first two receive a commendation for embracing their opportunities, as well as an invitation to be faithful with more and enter the joy of their master. The third is rebuked for missing the opportunity to serve.
I’ve been attending this webinar lately titled Friend like a Christian, and many of my thoughts on this blog come from both this sermon as well as this webinar. What does Christian friendship and faithfulness in our work have in common? Quite a lot, I think, which I’ll address in my next post, but for now, let’s start with faithfulness in our work.
It can be easy to look at the story of the talents and become distracted wondering what it is we’ve been given. Where are we to serve? How are we to serve? What does faithfulness look like?
Here’s a very quick answer. If you have people you share a living space with, begin there. Look at your next door neighbors. Go to your local church and ask someone where you can serve. I promise you there’s a place.
But what if those questions still haunt you? Maybe you serve those in your home, your neighborhood and your church, and you still find yourself asking the same questions. I’ve been there. Unfortunately, I’ve spent far too long in certain seasons asking these questions rather than understanding that God has already given me plenty to move forward with in faithfulness.
I think it’s helpful not only to answer the questions, but to consider why we ask them in the first place. Why do we allow them to distract us? Well, we could simply be making excuses so as to delay us from actually having to show up and do our work and live in obedience, but I think another ditch can also be common among Christian women.
Could it be that we don’t find the work we’ve been given to be all that important? Could it be that we find our talents insufficient and not nearly as romantic as we hoped? I don’t care what season you’re in, you’ve been given something in that season. You could be a student in school and still living with your parents, or a single adult navigating a career for the first time, a mother with little children, a mother with grown children, or an elderly widow navigating life caring for your own parents. The truth remains that God has given us work to do in any and every season, and that work matters. When we begin to ask, “Is this it?” we are revealing quite a lot about our hearts, as well as what we believe about our Master.
Rachel Jankovic puts words to this ditch well in her book You Who: “When we talk about this kind of obedience and glory that comes about when regular Christians obey Christ in a regular way, with regular skills and abilities, this thought often comes to mind: This may all be fine, but surely there must be more. So I told the Lord I wanted to honor Him today at breakfast with my fussy children, but can this morning really be meaningful?”
In the moment, it becomes hard to see the significance of our faithfulness and our obedience, and distract ourselves from our own sin and need for sanctification by instead wanting more talents. If only I had the ten talents, I could do much greater things for the Lord.
What version of this do we tell ourselves today? Well if I had more time, more money, more skill, I could serve the Lord in XYZ way. Then I could really make a difference.
And in the process, we are neglecting so much that we’ve already been given to do!
Jankovic continues in her book by putting into words what we often think and feel, “Forget fiddling around trying to deal with this lame attitude I am having today; there are bigger forces of darkness to quell! I’m going to change the world, not wrestle with my own sin nature!”
What does this reveal about our hearts? At its core, and as our pastor said today, how we handle what we’ve been given is a direct result of how much or how little we trust God. It shows whether we truly know our Master or not. If we know him and are in his Word, then we know that what pleases him is being faithful with what we’ve been given, right here, right now!
“This longing to do something important that would matter is just another form of unbelief. Every Christian is always in the middle of the spiritual action, whether being faithful as a mother at home nursing babies, as a single person pursuing their studies, as a missionary, as a worker at the local laundromat, as a CEO, or as a janitor. You are always in the midst of you own most important spiritual work. You hands are always full of God’s seeds, if you will just plant them” (Jankovic, You Who).
Why does it matter that we be faithful with the work given to us? Well, at it’s core, we are bringing glory and honor to God, which is why we were created.
Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 likewise says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
As the Westminster shorter catechism states in it’s first question and answer, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
So if you’re struggling with understanding that what you are doing with your talents matters, let’s begin with two main steps.
1.) Read your Bible and get to know your Master more.
2.) Pray that prayer in Mark 9:24 voiced by the father of a sick child, “I believe! Help my unbelief!”
Then, let’s get to work.
In Part 2, I’ll address how one of the ways our faithfulness glorifies God can be seen specifically in how it encourages the church through our friendships.