Living Generously, Part 2 - Giving Of Our Time & Talents

“If you have money, power, and status today, it is due to the century and place in which you were born, to your talents and capacities and health, none of which you earned. In short, all your resources are in the end the gift of God.” Tim Keller 

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” unknown 

Having tackled the subject of money and giving in last week’s “Living Generously, Part 1” you would think the subject of talent and time would be an easier one to move on to.  For myself, I always find the subject of money to be a very difficult one especially as I surrender control of my wallet to the Lord.  My fear, however, is that I can look at other areas of stewardship with not as much priority as I do the one big area (i.e. MONEY).  As mentioned last week, stewardship can be about how we use our money.  But it is not just that area alone.  It is all-encompassing.  It is how we use everything God has given and entrusted to us. 
One often-cited passage on the use of gifts within the Bible is The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30).  For certain, the story can be taken at face value.  Indeed the word talent does translate as “money” in the immediate context.  But as Jesus outlines the parable, it is clear that a return is expected upon the investment into the lives of each of the 3 men.  Is the investment solely about financial return?  Or is it broader?  Could it be the things invested into our lives are expected to bring about some type of return for the Kingdom of God?  I believe so. 

We are called to display our gifts in a way that honors the Lord.  We are also called to glorify Him with the use of our time.  In all of this, what we are given is not for our own use or personal gain.  It is ultimately all for God.  As we’ll see today, the stakes are high but the rewards are even greater.  Let’s not hide under a bushel basket what we’ve been given. 

Here we go with Part 2: 

1. The Bible rewards stewardship but punishes laziness 

But the master replied, “You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.”  Matthew 25:26,27 

Nowhere is the reward/punishment for utilizing gifts more obvious than in Matthew 25:14-30 (I encourage you to read it).  Each servant is given an opportunity to do something with the talent they are given.  For those who invest and make more, the master is pleased and even multiplies what each has.  But the master scolds the one who does nothing with the money.  His displeasure is obvious and He even sets him apart from the other servants.  This harshness should serve as a warning.  There will be a reckoning and an account given for what we have done with our gifts.  We much choose:  do we seek God’s favor or His chastisement? 

2. Wasted gifts=wasted opportunities 

Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.  Proverbs 22:29 

It is a sad thing to witness someone with great talent not operating in their gifts.  It’s a shame because we realize the potential of what could be accomplished.  We have so many distractions today and so many reasons to just “let someone else do it.”  But your unique skillset is needed today.  And what you are in skilled in needs to be exercised even if it is a gift that comes naturally.  Hone that trade, develop it, and allow God to give you opportunities to operate in it for His glory.  To have the skilled hands of a surgeon, to be able to craft melodies into beautiful songs, to engineer and create complex architecture…these things are hardwired into us and every person has something they can offer to the Lord.  Don’t waste it. 
3. The Body of Christ is one primary benefactor of your talent 

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Romans 12:4,5 

Paul’s description of the Body of Christ with hands, feet, eyes, and ears is pertinent to this discussion.  We all operate in different areas but each area supports and upholds the overall mission:  building the Body to the glory of God.  Exodus 36:1,2 states:  “The Lord has gifted Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other skilled craftsmen with wisdom and ability to perform any task involved in building the sanctuary.”  God gifts certain people to do certain tasks.  Those tasks are necessary to finish the work He is calling us to do.  If someone fails to respond to God’s call, I believe God raises up someone else.  But why miss out on the greatest opportunity ever known to man:  to be part of building His Kingdom on Earth! 

4. Time is short; don’t put off to tomorrow what needs to be done today 

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:15,16 

It’s easy at times to fall into cyclical patterns and rhythms of life.  For most, including myself, these patterns bring a source of stability and dare I say, sanity.  But especially as Christians we need to understand we have been given a short window of time to tell others about Jesus.  Really that’s what this whole discussion on generosity centers on:  giving selflessly so that others can see Christ in us.  Tomorrow is not promised and yesterday is gone.  In the day-to-day, are we building onramps for people to see the Lord?  Or are we so fixated upon our to-do’s that building the Kingdom becomes an afterthought; something we’ll get to if we have time?  Reality check:  free time is never going to just happen.  We need to be intentional about making Christ known in every aspect:  at home, in school, at our jobs, in the marketplace.  Bring Him into every conversation and interaction.  And see what happens! 

5. Giving of our time generously is a mark of Christian maturity 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12 

As we grow in Christ, we see time not as a possession for selfish gain but as a gift we are able to give away to others.  I’m daily in this process as I think about what I want to accomplish in 24 hours versus what God wants.  There are moments when God interrupts all my plans and I have to decide:  do I keep pushing through with my agenda or do I submit and surrender to what God is doing?  I’m not there yet.  I look and aspire to many older, more mature believers who have shown me what patience and selflessness looks like.  To have a heart that beats for the Lord means you will be tested in your management of time.  You will be given opportunities to put Him on display.  It usually means our timetables take a back seat.  But in so doing, we are given a front row view to what God is unfolding.  As we understand His heart, we long to give away our time freely and openly. 

My hope over these last 2 weeks has been that we all do some self-evaluation.  I'm not here to point the finger at your life and I’m not asking you to point a finger at mine.  We can read these thoughts, dig into God’s word, and get a clear picture of what we are tasked with as stewards.  The Holy Spirit does the convicting.  It’s a daily struggle within me to not hoard and obtain more…more money, more time, more “stuff.”  In the end, the “starts-with-me, ends-with-me” attitude really serves no one else but myself.  To me, this becomes a “light-bulb moment” and a clear wake up call to start living differently. 

Guys will you take the time; perhaps go back over this week and last week and pray about what God is asking of you?  Honestly lean into His heart and get into His presence and get a sense for what “living generously” looks like for you.  I wholeheartedly recommend it and believe 110% that the rewards that come will be worth it.  Maybe not in this life but definitely in the one to come! 

God bless.  I love walking the journey with you. 

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.  Matthew 6:19-21

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Ephesians 5:15-17

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