Very few high school students make it through four years of education without at least once being called to the principal’s office. The reasons for the call could be either good or bad. The emotions that the summons inspires, though, are always the same—a mixture of fear and trepidation. Perhaps with today’s zero tolerance policies there is even greater fear. Students are scared that no matter how good they have been they are going to be judged and fall short.
Jesus is coming to set up this “principal’s office.” His office will be one of splendor and glory, which will be complete with a host of angelic administrative assistants. It will inspire awe, respect and a little holy fear. We might feel a little intimidated by the prospect of standing before the “principal,” but we do not need to be.
This story that Jesus told and that Matthew included in his gospel is devoid of any grace. Judgment is strictly based on a person’s actions. Thankfully we know that in reality, when we stand before God, we will do so clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Judgment will not be based on our actions, but rather on Jesus accomplishments through his life, death, and resurrection. With this knowledge, we boldly love and serve.
The parable of the talents helps us understand what Jesus expects of us in this life. God loans us time, money, and resources. He gives each of us the ability to use those resources. How we use the gifts God has given us determines our eternal occupation. When God gives you a gift, He expects you to use it wisely. He expects you to take it to the place where it can thrive (the market), let it work the way it was designed to work (build interest), and then return the ability to God having increased it (made interest). A singer cannot increase the gift God has given him if he becomes a lawyer. A lawyer cannot increase the gift God has given him if he becomes a missionary. Such mirrors the thought that each of us has a specific calling in life. If we try to do something other than our calling, even if it is a noble cause, we cannot be fruitful for Christ.
It is our responsibility to recognize and use the abilities God has given us. There are certain talents that each of us possesses. Sometimes we cannot see it ourselves, but our friends and family know the areas in which we are gifted. This may seem extremely straight-forward, but how many of us are in jobs that are not suited for our gifts? I myself worked in a profession for three years before I realized that I was not using the gifts God had given me and needed to find a new career. I had taken the job for the classic reason of needing a full-time position to pay bills. I was more concerned about taking care of my physical needs than serving those around me by using my talents. While at the time it seemed like a good decision, by accepting that career I was in fact burying the talent God had given me.
If you try to use a talent and it bears no fruit, then you are probably not in the correct position. Christ promises that if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit. That is the best way to know if you have found your calling; the talent God gave you is bearing fruit. This is the same as gaining interest by being put to usury; the ability is planted in a place where it can thrive, bear fruit, and return that fruit back to the owner, Christ.
Do you worry? Some of us worry about paying the monthly rent or mortgage. Some of us worry about the choices our children are making. Others of us are anxious about big decisions we must make about our future. With all the concerns in life, can Jesus really be serious when he tells us not to worry? While we will never know a life without concerns, Jesus assures us we can know a life without worry. He points out that worry—any manner of pace-the-floor, can’t-sleep-at-night fretting—is not helpful because it changes nothing. Worry doesn’t add a single hour to life; it doesn’t solve a single problem. And worry isn’t helpful because life is more than our worries make it out to be! Followers of Jesus are called to live for so much more than the fleeting things we worry about. Jesus reminds us that worry isn’t necessary for a child of God. Your heavenly Father knows precisely what you need, when you need it. And your heavenly Father is good. The same God who paints the flowers of the field and tends the birds of the air holds every part of your life in his nail-pierced hands. The same God who loved you so much that he went through the hell of Calvary for you, loves you too much to leave your life to chance.Don’t worry! God is in control!
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