Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
A few years ago I had my nephew read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. After he read it, we went to dinner to discuss it. He explained to me how the king had given servants silver and asked them to invest it while he was gone. When he came back for his money, one servant made ten times the original, another made five times and a third just buried it in the ground. The king was happy with the first two, but furious with the third.
After he explained it to me, I pulled out a hundred dollar bill and set it on the table. His eyes lit up. I slid it across the table to him and told him to invest it for me. I told I wanted him to think of a ministry he wanted to support with the profits. He quickly named a missionary in Kenya who had made an impact on him. I then told him I was going to come and ask for the money back and that we’d give whatever he had left to that missionary. Three months later, he ended turning that $100 into nearly $500. Not bad for a 12 year old.
It got me to thinking about what am I doing with the talents God has given me. Am I using them? Am I growing them? Have I invested them so I can show a profit from what He gave me? Yes, the story with my nephew is about money, but I’m talking about gifts God has enabled me with. Each of us has been given certain gifts and talents. Not one of us is talentless. Sure, some have more talent and gifts than others, but that doesn’t give us the right to bury ours in the sand.
In Romans 12:6-8, Paul tells us that no matter what gift God has given you, you should use it well. And in I Corinthians 12:7, he says that a spiritual gift has been given to each one of us so we can help each other. That means that God has given you a gift and He wants you to take a risk with the gift He has given you by using it. There’s a saying in business that says, “No risk. No reward.” Don’t be afraid to take a risk today with your gift. You might fail or you might succeed. You’ll never know until you try
I once had a boss whose favorite question to ask in an interview was, “Tell me a time when you took a risk. Did it pay off or not?” I asked him about it one time and he said, “I don’t want people working for me who are afraid to take risks. I’d rather have someone on my team who has taken a risk and failed miserably than someone who was too scared to even take a risk in the first place. At least the person who took a risk learned something. The one who has never taken a risk will never change his results because he’s too scared to try something new.”
He helped me to understand that taking risks is a Godly trait. Each time you or I step out in faith, it’s a risk. Will God step out and move on my behalf or will I fall on my face? We don’t know, but God asks us to do it anyway. I’ve seen God ask someone to take a huge risk and then allow them to fail. It sounds weird at first, but God needed them in a place of failure to be able to grow them beyond what the risk could have ever offered. His reward for their risk was delayed.
When you risk it all for God’s sake, you put yourself in a place that is totally dependent on God. Your risk speaks volumes to God. It says, “I’m not satisfied with what I’m producing for you. I want to do more for the Kingdom and I’m willing to risk what I have for a chance to offer you more.” It’s in those moments that your faith grows and produces more than it ever has. If you fall on your face, you let God know you’re not going to play it safe. If He catches you, the rewards are eternal.
There’s a difference in taking a risk and making a calculated move. If you’ve got a 90% chance of success, that’s not really much of a risk. It’s a calculated decision made to look like faith. God is looking for those who are willing to go all in and risk it all for His Kingdom. In Matthew 25, he gave three different people three different amounts of talents. To the one who risked nothing because he was afraid, the master said, “That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? (MSG)”
Later on He said, “Get rid of this play-it-safe who won’t go out on a limb. (MSG)” God gets angry when we live life with the goal of arriving in Heaven safely with no bumps or bruises. He put the desire for risk in each one of us. We can either take a risk or allow fear to cause us to play it safe. If you know the parable I’m referring to, the ones who risked it all stayed with the master, but the one who risked nothing was cast into darkness. God calls us to live by faith, not by sight. What risks have you taken for His sake? What is He asking you to risk right now?
I once had a friend that lived according to her Franklin Covey planner. She scheduled everything in that binder. If it wasn’t in there, she didn’t do it. I, being young, made fun of her. I asked her if she was ever spontaneous. She responded that she had time on Thursday evening to be spontaneous and wrote it in. Her life was mapped out and she was going places. I lived by no schedule and was going no where. She went where she wanted in life and I went where life took me. It’s not hard to see how important it is to make a plan and to work that plan.
I talk to a lot of people who are going to do great things for God. They tell me what God wants them to do with their lives. I ask, “What are you doing today to prepare for that calling?” Usually I get the religious answer, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He’ll prepare me in time.” I ask them what they are doing to today in the form of that calling. I usually hear crickets chirping. They, like so many of us, expect God to give us honorary doctorates in whatever field He’s called them to with no work on their part. They believe it will just happen.
I believe things don’t just happen. God expects us to plan, prepare and practice before it’s time to perform. We have to schedule time with Him, start out small and invest in our calling. When Jesus gave the Parable of the Talents, He said, “You have been faithful over a little; I will put you in charge of much.” So many Christians shun the little things because we want to do big things for God. We forget that God won’t give us the big things until we show we can be faithful over the small things. If you can’t spend time alone with God when your life isn’t hectic, how will you do it when it is?
I remember hearing Andy Stanley speak at Catalyst two years ago. He said that none of the speakers at Catalyst had an easy road to that stage. They paid high prices in the little things before God would trust them with the big things. Greatness in life only comes from being faithful when you aren’t great. All giants in the faith started out small. Major churches, giant Christian organizations and well known preachers started somewhere small. They had God’s call on their life to do something great and they started small. They scheduled time with God and began doing things that wouldn’t be noticed by most.
Do you feel like God has called you to do something big for Him? What are you doing today to prepare for that? What is a little thing that you can put on your schedule to do this week to move you closer to greatness? I heard someone once say, “If you were going to do it, you’d already be doing it.” If something is important to us and will pay out greater dividends, we wouldn’t wait until later to do something. We’d already be doing things to make that happen. We’d already have it on our schedule. Be faithful now when no one is looking so God can trust you when people are.