A meaningful relationship with Christ wasn’t something that came easily to me at first. With all meaningful relationships, I have trouble prioritizing them over life’s distractions — especially when faced with the immediate demands of daily living and major life events. I have trouble finding my rhythm and keeping my balance.
I do best when I am able to find a balance between my relationship with Christ and my obligations to my family, friends, acquaintances and others. It is a life dance that changes with the music — with life’s demands and with life events. With Christ as my dance partner, it is only the nature of the dance that ever changes.
I don’t believe God wants my love for Him to isolate me from interacting with others. He never intended that I should withdraw from life and experience it only in books or in a “virtual” or theoretical sense. Life is meant to be engaged in, no matter how messy it becomes, and with the knowledge that to engage means I will sin. But so too will I sin even if I don’t engage. If I rest upon my faith without ever engaging in life in a deliberate and physical sense, I probably have misunderstood what faith really is.
Faith includes trusting that He knows best how we can serve Him, and that no challenge is too little or too big for us, if we rely on Christ. But we cannot serve if we do not interact — if we do not put our love of God, and trust in Him, into action.
Good works are not required for our salvation and we cannot earn it. However, good works are inevitable if one’s faith is real. It’s impossible to experience God’s love as He intended unless we share His love with others – not by words alone, but by acts of kindness and generosity. And not only with those who love us, but with those who do not.
I’ve experienced that God’s love grows within us and within the physical realm we live in only when we act on it – through prayer, worship, sharing our faith, and acts of kindness. That belief is essentially my understanding of Christ’s parable of the three servants.
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going into another country, who called together his servants and loaned them money to invest for him while he was gone. He gave $5,000 to one, $2,000 to another, and $1,000 to the last – dividing it in proportion to their abilities – then left on his trip. The man who received the $5,000 began immediately to buy and sell with it and soon made another $5,000. The man with $2,000 went right to work, too, and earned another $2,000. But the man who received the $1,000 dug a hole in the ground and hid the money for safe-keeping. After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to account for his money. The man to whom he had entrusted the $5,000 brought him $10,000. His master praised him for good work. ‘You have been faithful in handling this small amount,’ he told him, ‘so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Begin the joyous tasks I have assigned to you.’ Next came the man who had received the $2,000, with the report, ‘Sir, you gave me $2,000 to use, and I have doubled it.’ “Good work,’ his master said. ‘You have been faithful over this small amount, so now I will give you much more.’ Then the man with the $1,000 came and said, ‘Sir, I knew you were a hard man, and I was afraid you would rob me of what I had earned, so I hid your money in the earth and here it is!’ But his master replied, ‘Wicked man! Lazy slave! Since you knew I would demand your profit, you should at least have put my money int the band so I could have some interest. Take the money from this man and give it to the man with the $10,000. For the man who uses well what he is given shall be given more, and he shall have abundance. But from the man who is unfaithful, even what little responsibility he has shall be taken from him. And throw the useless servant out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”Matthew 25:14-30
In other words, we are all given talents and blessings in many forms. We are here for a purpose, even if we are unaware of what that purpose may be. If we have been given a gift, we are meant to use it. We are meant to use our gifts in a way that glorifies God (in a way that is consistent with Jesus’ teachings), and not for our own, personal agenda and sole benefit. I believe we are each meant to share our own special gifts in a manner that pleases God, that reflects His love, and that reflects our gratitude to Him.
Jesus teaches in the above parable that it is our responsibility to use the gifts and opportunities we are given to the best of our ability. We are not to be fearful of them or the opportunities to serve God that they represent. Unused or squandered gifts sadden God. They are wasted opportunities to serve and glorify Him:
What glory is there to God if the gift of voice is given to someone who chooses silence?
What glory is there to God if the gift of language is given to someone who chooses not to converse?
What glory is there to God if the gift of hearing is given to someone who chooses not to listen?
What glory is there to God if the gift of knowledge is given to someone who chooses to act foolishly?
What glory is there to God if the gift of creativity is given to someone who chooses not to imagine?
What glory is there to God if the gift of truth is given to someone who chooses to lie or ignore it?
What glory is there to God if the gifts of prosperity and abundance are given to someone who chooses not to share?
What glory is there to God if the gift of power is given to someone who exercises their authority to sin?
What glory is there to God if the gift of life is given to someone who chooses death over it?
What glory is there to God if the gift of love is given to someone who chooses to hate?
What glory is there to God if the gift of forgiveness is given to someone who chooses not to forgive?
What glory is there to God if the gift of Christ’s existence and sacrifice for us is not believed?
The above examples reflect just some of the infinite number of gifts God gives us. It is not for us to judge how others have used their gifts, for only God knows what is in their hearts. Nor is it for us to judge the gifts we are given or wish we had been given gifts of another nature, for only God knows His purposes and the role we play in them.
I believe we should acknowledge and be grateful for the gifts we have been given. I believe we are meant to reflect on whether we can do better and pray for guidance in the best way to put them to use. It’s our responsibility alone to seek forgiveness for mistakes in the ways that we’ve used our gifts, and once forgiven to carry on and try not to make the same mistakes again.
With prayer and with God’s grace, our gifts will not be wasted and we will learn how to share them for the benefit and well-being of all — to the glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
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