A taste of FAITH, a touch of LAUGHTER.
November 19, 2017
Has God Gifted You?
I went to Trinity church this morning with a good friend, and the message given by John Green really spoke right into my life. It brought tears to my eyes during the service as I pondered what was being presented. I had to look at it some more when I came home, in order to think about it and record what I was thinking. This blog post is the result. I decided to share what I thought and wrote with you today.
The first reading was Judges 4:1-7, where a man called Barak is given a blessing for an upcoming battle from Deborah, who was Judge in Israel at the time. However, Barak did not fully receive that blessing, perhaps out of fear, because he refused to go unless Deborah accompanied him. She told Barak she would indeed go with him but that he would lose the ultimate success of the battle, the honor and glory of the capture of the enemy commander, Sisera, to a woman (Jael), who gave the fleeing commander shelter, food and drink and then drove a tent peg through his skull as he slept.
It would have been a different story, a different song of praise in chapter 5, if Barak had heeded his instructions, trusted in the gift God was giving him and used it accordingly. However, for whatever reasons, he seemed to be afraid to do that alone and in seeking Deborah’s presence alongside him, I believe he he lost the reward. I imagine that result would have been a form of disgrace to him as a man, and as a commander and he had to join in a song of praise and blessing to Jael, who dealt with commander Sisera in Barak’s place, because of his own reluctance, his apparent lack of confidence and trust in God who was to enable him for the task.
Do we show contempt for God when we do not follow his clear instruction about the gifts and direction He has so clearly given? Will we personally suffer some form of disgrace, lose some potential reward, because of our fear, our reluctance to trust and obey with all He has given to us that is at our disposal?
Psalm 123 was read next. I was having trouble seeing how this one fit with what came before (Judges 4:1-7) and what came after (Matthew 25:14-30), except that, being human, we fail and we really need his mercy and kindness in the long run. Humanly speaking we will be judged in contempt for our many failings, by the rich, by the proud, by others around us, because even they can witness the spiritual judgement (consequences) of God upon us, because of our many imperfections. They may not necessarily see or recognize the mercy and kindness that we receive when we seek Him and look to Him in all of our failings. I have personally experienced His love for me in my recognition/repentance before Him with regard to my own shortcomings.
As believers, we seek and wait for His kindness, though we can reasonably expect judgement or loss, such as that experienced by Barak and the fearful servant in Matthew. We almost always suffer consequences of our actions or lack of action, whether that be loss of honor and blessing, or something even more drastic, as in the reading from Matthew, where the servant lost everything.
Can we cry unfair to the Judge of the entire world? No, because He will always do what is right. We never see or know the whole picture in the way God does. Many things are left unexplained and we must trust in the total goodness of God. We must accept His holiness and righteousness in the plight of the servant in Matthew as well as His love and mercy, or we are not seeing God entirely for who He is.
Another point to consider in all of this is that God’s course will not be altered whether or not we are a willing part of His plan and design. He is not thwarted by our failing. He has many willing vessels who will be obedient to carry out His plans. If we refuse, the task will be carried out by another willing body and we will miss out on a blessing.
Matthew 25:14-30 came last and was the focus of the message. The three servants were given monetary gifts (talents or bags of gold) by the Master. There was instruction, but the servants knew the character and nature of the Master who had given the gift, that He would want it used and thus expect an increase in the original value, so they acted accordingly. Two stepped up to the task bravely and confidently, investing what they had been given, and making a good profit which then went to the Master along with the original gift.
The last servant was fearful and unwilling to take the risk of investment, perhaps fearful of personal loss, so he buried the gift and returned it in its original form (unused and not increased in any way) to the Master on his return. He gave his reasons and thought it would be OK.
I see that the all three recognized that the gift (talents or bags of gold) entrusted to their care rightly belonged to the Master and were to be returned to Him. I wonder whether WE fail to remember this? God has gifted us with so much. It may be money. It may be spiritual gifts, or talents. Do we remember that whatever he has entrusted us with really belongs to Him, and is for us to USE for HIS praise and glory, or do we hide (bury) the gift, fail to use it at all? IF we use the gift we have been given, how well do we do with that? Do we take all the credit and glory for whatever comes out of our use of it, forgetting the Master and His intentions in giving it to us, or do we give ALL of the praise and glory in the use of it to the One who gave the gift (money, talent) to us in the first place?
The minister indicated that the story and the practical application might be wider than a monetary sense in that it could be however God has chosen to gift us (as I was also thinking), whether that gift might be a listening ear, kind words of comfort or encouragement, practical assistance (spiritual gifts) or or any other quality or talent we may have been given with which we might bless others.
I’m thinking personally of my participation in outreach ministry, and my attitudes towards it. I enjoy singing and playing the accordion but do I always give God the praise and glory for that gift and in how I use it? No, I cannot honestly say so.
I take pride in my own accomplishments and forget where they came from. I take credit for myself. Sometimes I am afraid, lack confidence in my ability, and hide my gift away in non participation. Not always, but often enough, I fear, to contaminate the gift and the potential investment/gain that was meant to be the outcome. And now I frequently feel as if I am on the outside of it all.
I wonder why I feel doors have closed on outreach ministry and perhaps this story explains my failure to succeed. My loss. My potential for being a blessing and being blessed. Is God displeased with me? It could very well be so. Perhaps that is the real lesson I can take away from this. Perhaps that is why I cried in church today……..
Perhaps I need to seek the mercy of God and mend my OWN ways……my thoughts and my attitudes about how He has chosen to gift me musically. I know I have other gifts, some of which I struggle with less, use with more success and which perhaps bear more visible fruit for Him. I am not the final judge, however.
Food for thought……
Take care ❤
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