God has graced us with many gifts…talents…blessings, those special and unique skills that bring joy to our lives and the lives of many others. Some talents we develop and use well, and others we waste and never use at all. As we approach the end of the church year, today’s Gospel reminds us that our talents are God’s gifts to us, and how we use them are our gifts to him. Are we more like the two servants willing to risk in order to gain, or like the servant willing to risk nothing thereby gaining nothing? Some of us take the risk using our gifts well, while others, because of fear, self-doubt or laziness refuse to use the gifts God has given us.
Why is it that some risk and others don’t? Many people feel that they have so little to share while others are fearful of the cost of sharing. Spiritual writer, Elizabeth Ann Stewart, reminds us: “When we become crippled by fear and self-doubt, we place our trust in our own efforts assuming that God is as limited as we are.” So often we forget: “Fear imprisons while faith liberates; fear paralyzes while faith empowers; fear generates uselessness while faith strengthens efforts, and most of all…fear puts hopelessness at the heart of our lives, while faith rejoices in its trust in God.”
Instead of living in freedom and joy, we grow resentful, nurse grudges and slip into negativity mode. Instead of acknowledging our personal shortcomings, we blame everyone around us, including God. Perhaps worst of all, we settle for survival strategies rather than taking advantage of the abundance God offers us. “To bury our talents is a form of sacrilege, a desecration of that which is holy; it is the equivalent of denying the Spirit within each of us and settling for mere existence.”[Elizabeth Ann Stewart]
- S. Lewis once stated that one talent many Christians refuse to risk losing is love. He explained: “To love at all, is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. …If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one. Wrap it up carefully with hobbies and little luxuries…avoiding all entanglements. Lock it up safely in the casket or the coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, and airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and unredeemable.”
It is possible to give without loving, but it’s impossible to love without giving. Giving to others becomes our expression of love and joy. Yet at times we are aware of our talents, two, five, or however many, and are eager to share them, while at other times our talent cupboard is empty? Some days our confidence level is high and at other times we are frozen in inaction. Love becomes the trigger that pushes us toward decisive action. Remember, no risk---no gain!
God made us to love and be loved; it is an essential part of all humanity. Yet, when we forget God the loving creator, we encounter God the fearful judge. When we choose the gentle God who encourages love, we are then free to choose love. Love becomes the God-given talent we can all share. Let us resolve to risk loving in spite of its entanglements, sacrifices and rejections. Let us prefer service to safety, risk to retreat, and resolve to love as Jesus did. Love’s reward is worth the risk, especially in a world hungry for love. ----Deacon Wilson Shierk