Reading Matthew 25:14 – 29 would help.
“For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several abilities; and straightway took his journey”
I always wanted to start a business. In fact, I chose microbiology (over celebrated courses like pharmacy & medicine) as my first degree simply because, at the time, it meant I was going to complete study in just 4 years and start a medical laboratory business. So, it was devastating when 2 years into the degree I found out microbiology graduates could no longer practice laboratory science or, more importantly, start a laboratory. It seemed like my entire future was shattered, I had no clue any more why I was doing what I was doing, I was confused and un-motivated. For a short while, I considered just letting the 2 years that was to come pass (or waste) doing the bare minimum required to get a degree, any degree would do as long as I got out.
“But he that had received one went and dug in the earth and hid his lord's money.”
Somehow in those moments, God made the story in Matthew 25 vs. 14 - 19 make new meaning to me. I was being the unprofitable servant, upset about the lot I had got and choosing to bury it. The Servant who had received the smallest portion of talents felt unfairly treated (like many of us would) and made the worst possible choice (like many of us do).
Ultimately, I chose to maximize the use for the lot I’d got. I worked hard at a degree that meant very little to me, I made a first class out of university – and this became the platform through which I’d begin to re-write what could have been the horror story of my life - thanks to Jesus. My story remains unfinished.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord”
Matthew 25 vs 14 - 19 is a famous story ultimately tagged “the unprofitable servant" by many, (perhaps because humans are drawn more to bad news) it is not clear to me that Christ aimed to emphasize this part of the story. In the grand scheme of things, all 3 servants had received what Christ would describe as ‘few’. What jumps at me is that Christ wanted His disciples to understand they had to choose what to do with their time and gifts.
There are 3 elements to this story that helped me make the best of my moments of feeling hard done by, and anyone can learn from these:
The distribution “to every man according to his several abilities”
The good use of talents labelled “Traded” and the misuse of talent labelled “Buried”
The real account was for the “Time” each had, not the talent given
I focus very briefly on each of these elements:
The distribution to each according to their ability. Ability here is a synonym to proficiency. Ability is learned and earned. When well applied, ability is rewarded Proverbs 22:29. While it is easy to complain about being unlucky with your circumstances, the easiest way to rise is to develop your capabilities. Developing your abilities and capacity liberates, first by enabling you to make the best out of what you have, and it makes sure you are ready why opportunities to rise come your way. In a way, being more highly skilled, makes you ‘luckier’ – divine irony.
“For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath”
We need to shift our mentalities from always expecting God to intervene through miracles to understanding that God has imbued in us all it takes to be excellent.
Traded vs. Buried – these are the options you have with your abilities, use it or bury it for decay. In the real world, assets must appreciate beyond the inflation rates to even retain their values (much less increase in value). At 10% inflation rate, $1000 this year is the equivalent of $1100 last year, so to ensure that your $1000 retains its ability to purchase, you need to trade with it and earn an extra $100 in a year. This is how any talent/gift/ability/skill/circumstance must be viewed, like an asset, make the best use of it or it devalues from being unused. What do you do with what you have? Each moment in our life is simply 2 things action and consequence. Invest your present and returns will come in future. In this world, if you are standing still, you are moving backward. Ecclesiastes 11:4 There are a million reasons not to do anything, but God says, “Go forward”.
“Thou ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury”
The real gift is time. When the master returned and reckoned with the servants, 3 things strike me: First that He calls the talents he gave both profitable servants ‘few’. He then backs that up by offering them ruler-ship over larger things. And finally, he offers them both the same reward. The reasons he does these, to me, are clear. The master does not need the additional talents brought in, he has kingdoms, which he hands over to the profitable 2. This is not a test of their capacity; they were given talents to manage based on ability in the first place. To me, he rewards them equally because the task was equal, and the only thing they both had equally was TIME. Both these servants delivered 100% profitability in the same time given – this was their test. What are you doing with the time you have been given? What are you doing right now? Maximise every moment like that is all you have. And, whether you have a lot or little, the master sees that you put your all into it – He rewards that.
Tips to maximizing each day
Luke 14: 28-30 Plan. Some of us do not even know what a plan is, whatever happens just happens. Planning involves having a goal, breaking that goal into steps and setting a time limit to make/achieve each of those steps.
Never give less than what is your best. Ecclesiastes 9:10, Matthew 5:16
Joshua 1:8 Learn a lot, with the sole purpose of improving the choices you make. Our success or otherwise is the accumulation of the consequence