I was reading the parable of the talents recently which is the story of the master who gave each of his servants money to look after while he travelled. Two invested well and received a 100% return on their money whilst the third man buried his in the ground and returned it to his master who was not happy!
“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb.” (Matthew 25:28-30 MSG)
When I read this I felt so challenged by God about my life and I felt God ask me this question….‘What are you doing with what God has given to you?!’
What Has God Given You?
Our starting point is to pause for a moment and remember that everything we have is from God! We should be so thankful.
“For, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”” (Psalm 24:1)
We need to grasp this – everything we are and everything we possess is God’s in the first place. In fact – every job, promotion, relationship, friend, idea, success, profit, blessing, gift & possession comes from Him too. So….
‘What are you doing with what God has given to you?’
Life, Breath & Health
James challenges us with the reality of our situation.
“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
You and I have been given life, breath and good health (mostly!). The older we get the more we realise how quickly life passes by and how precious it is to us.
So can I ask you: What are you doing with it? Are you wasting it? Are you looking after the wonderful body that God gave you? Maybe it’s time to get fit, exercise, swim, walk, lose some weight, create better habits? Seriously….what are you doing with the wonderful body God has given you?
In the parable the man entrusted his servants with his wealth.
Two used it well and invested it and the other buried it for a rainy day.
‘You can tell a man’s priorities by reading his bank statements…..’
What are you doing with what God has given to you? Are you spending it wisely or are you wasteful with the wonderful resources that God gave you for a reason – to provide for you and your family and (Yes – actually!) to help build His kingdom!
One of the best ways that we can manage the wealth He has given is to establish a monthly budget. Try this simple but great way of budgeting:
Give 10% to God
Save 10% for the future (create an emergency fund first)
Live on 80% remaining
The crucial thing is to set aside the 10%’s first! God will bless your generosity to His kingdom and the savings will create margin in your finances and a fund for emergencies and future plans.
‘What are you doing with the wealth that God has given to you?’
I can’t cook, I’m useless at ‘Do It Yourself’ and Julia says that ‘I can’t tell a weed from a plant!’ On one occasion, I successfully put up some coat hooks in our house – successful until someone decided to hang coats on it…..half the plaster came off the wall!!
God told Moses to build a tabernacle and even provide a skilled tradesman….
“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31:2)
I believe that God included this story to encourage His people to use their God given abilities in service. In our church we have electricians, plumbers, cooks, carpenters and craftsmen, musicians, singers, designers, accountants, gardeners and knitters using their natural abilities to serve God and bless others.
‘What are you doing with that ability God has given to you?’
The list of spiritual gifts in the Bible inc: prophesy, teaching, serving, encouraging, giving, leading, showing mercy, wisdom, knowledge, speaking & interpreting tongues, gifts of healing, discerning the spirits, miraculous powers, faith etc. (1 Cor. 12, Eph. 4, Rom. 12 etc) We all have at least one!
Can I encourage you to use the spiritual gifts that God has given you? Paul encouraged Timothy to ‘fan into flame the gift within him.’ (2 Tim. 1:6). As a pastor once said ‘use it or lose it!’ It may mean stepping out in faith once again. I’ve always found that when I step out God always steps in and the recipient is ministered to and encouraged! Go for it!!
‘What are you doing with the spiritual gift (s) that God has given to you?’
The man entrusted his money to his servants:
“It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities.” (Matthew 25:14-18 MSG)
One of the things I love about God is that He has entrusted me with different responsibilities during the different seasons of my life. It’s never ever boring when we follow and obey Him! Here’s a list of some of things He entrusts us with:
- Vision, church, ministry, small group or team
- Job or recent promotion
- University/college place
God entrusts us with those things that are important to Him because He believes that we have the commitment and the gifts & abilities to fulfil what He has called us to do. He believes that we are worthy of His trust.
“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Cor. 4:2)
Have you lost you your passion? Have things gone flat?
Is it stagnating? Does it need fresh impetus? Is it time to re-focus?
‘What are you doing with the entrustment that God has given to you?’
We all have 168 hours in a week. What are you doing with your time?
‘Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.’ (Benjamin Franklin)
We squander our lives away! No one on their deathbed is going to say ‘I wish I’d spent more time on FB or watching TV!’
Use your time well – how about purposely re-scheduling your week.
Yes you have to work – but how about scheduling time for:
- Family – they are gifts from God. (What are you doing with what God gave you?)
- Personal investment – read, study, grow
- Home finances (budget)
- Fitness & recreation
- God – go to bed a bit earlier at same time and get up at same time
- Service – How about scheduling 10% of your time to serve God?
‘What are you doing with the time that God has given to you?’
Rick & Kay Warren’s son Matthew took his own life and five months later Rick preached a series called ‘How to get through what you’re going through.’
In one of them he said that ‘our deepest life message often comes out of our deepest pain.’ Rick also said, “Don’t waste your pain, let God heal it, recycle it, utilise it and use it to bless other people,” he said. “Use your pain as a model for your message and a witness to the world.”
What are you doing with the difficult experiences you’ve been through? No one can minister to the bereaved, debt ridden, single parents, divorced, hurting, rejected, betrayed, addicts….like those who have been in that place.
What are you doing with the positive experiences you’ve had? No one can minister to young married couples, new parents, singles, seniors, students like those who have walked that path themselves.
I want to encourage you today to make the most of your life and what God has given to you. We all get one life – one chance, one opportunity. There’s no dress rehearsal. This is it!
I discovered that one of my greatest temptations was to put my career and later my ministry before everything else. Careers are important. Promotions are great. Money is important. But as John Wooden says,
‘Do not let making a living prevent you from making a life.’
There is so much more to life than our careers – you discover it in Christ. You discover it by allowing God to use what He has put in you for ministering to others and for building His Kingdom. As Myles Munro said,
‘You must decide if you are going to rob the world or bless it with the rich, valuable, potent, untapped resources locked away within you.’
We simply must invest ourselves in a purpose greater than ourselves.
If we spend our lives selfishly – we’ll end up unfulfilled and disillusioned.
So the question remains: ‘What are you doing with what God has given to you?’
Martin Luther King Jr. made this his prayer:
‘Use me God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.’
Maybe you should make it yours….