There’s a special kind of freedom, contentment, and confidence that comes from knowing who you are and what your purpose is in life. According to Scripture:
Everyone is uniquely made (Psalm 139:14)
in God's image (Genesis 1:27)
and given specific gifts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12:3-8, 1 Peter 4:10-11)
to use according to His purpose (Pslam 139:16, Ephesians 2:10)
It makes logical sense to me that if I was created for a purpose, then I would possess the skills required to accomplish that purpose. When a carpenter makes a table, for example, they make it for the purpose of dining or holding household items. No one would expect the table to do anything more than that what it was created to do (or capable of doing).
In the same way, the master in the Parable of Talents doesn't care about the amount of talent produced by his three servants but rather the ability of each servant to produce talent based on their skillset. This is evidenced by the fact that the first servant (who received five talents) and the second servant (who received two talents) both earned the same response from the master, even though the first servant produced more than double the amount of talents than the second servant. In fact, we don't even know how the first and second servant doubled their talents; all we know is that they acted on what they were given using the skills they already possessed. Thus, when the master discovers that the third servant did nothing with his one talent – not even an investment – the master reprimands him, takes away what little he has, and gives it to the first servant (someone who will do something with it).
It's easy to harp on the third servant for messing up, but I commiserate with him. Maybe he felt insecure when he compared his one talent to the five talents of the first servant or the two talents of the second servant. I know I've doubted my talent and my potential so many times when I've compared myself to others. The third servant clearly expresses his fears of failure, disappointment, and risk in spite of his master's temperament (Matthew 25:24-25). But the saddest part of this parable, to me, is the fact that the master wasn't mad because the third servant failed to produce as much talent as the first or second servants. In fact, the master never expected him to; he only expected that the third servant perform according to his abilities – just as he did for his master in the past.
I understand that this parable is usually discussed in the context of being faithful to God until the the end times, but the master's expectations for the third servant really caused me to pause and ask: Am I living according to God's expectations for me or the expectations of others (friends, family, culture, myself)?
While there are clear moments in which I’ve lived according to God’s expectations for me, there are also plenty of moments when I’ve allowed the expectations of friends, family, culture, and even myself to result in the unproductive and unhealthy mindset similar to that of the third servant: doubtful of my God-given abilities and paralized in fear of disappointing my Master.
There will be moments of doubt and fear in life. But God has given us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Even more, God has always given us a choice – from the garden to now.
So what will you choose?
Rejection or acceptance of God’s calling for your life?
Gratitude or resentment for your God-give gifts?
Action or inaction on behalf of God’s expectations for you?
I choose to live according to my ability (not someone else's) so that when I stand before God at the end of my life, He may commend me, too, for being a “good and faithful servant” and invite me to share in His “happiness” forever (Matthew 25:21).
Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash