Friday, April 5, 2013

Great and Small - Applying the Parable of the Talents

A few months ago, right before Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of buying groceries for someone who was down and out. A lady who had previously attended my Bible study sent out an email to her former and current Bible study partners with a plea to help her next door neighbor. It seems that her neighbor's husband had left a few months earlier; she had recently lost her job; she was down to her last meal of food; she had two small children; she was out of diapers and had no money for rent or gas. She was overwhelmed and paralyzed with fear. My friend's email stated, "We need to shower this woman with the love of God. If there's anyway you can help, please let me know."

Immediately, I knew that I wanted to buy some groceries. I have a heart for people who are hungry. I remember being hungry many times as a child and it's an awful feeling. I replied to my friend to send me a list of food that her neighbor liked. The reply email contained a list of her neighbor's needs: food, diapers, toilet paper, rent money. For some unknown reason, instead of focusing on the list of food, I began to focus on the rent money. All of a sudden I really wanted to pay her rent. There was no way I could pay her rent as I didn't have that kind of extra money. I began to despair. What good are groceries if she was evicted and homeless? How could I possibly pay her rent? "Lord, how can I pay her rent? I don't have the money!" In answer to my prayer I heard the Lord clearly tell me:

I'm not asking you to pay her rent - I have another servant who will do that. I'm asking you to buy groceries...and a gas card.

I got it. I bought groceries and a gas card. I also contacted some other friends and collected more groceries and diaper donations from them. When my husband and I delivered the groceries and diapers, the lady was so overwhelmed and grateful that she was crying. I later learned from my friend that several other people bought groceries and...someone else paid her rent. Earlier that morning, her house had no food, no diapers, and no hope. By that evening, her refrigerator and cabinets were overflowing with food and her rent had been paid all by people who didn't know her. It truly was a miracle. That, my friends, is the wonderful body of Christ - the church - in action.

I tell this story not to toot my own horn (heaven forbid), but rather to share the lessons I learned from it:

1. I'm convinced that the enemy of God was trying to distract me from obeying God by trying to refocus my attention on to the rent and away from the groceries. Had I allowed myself to be distracted, I would have been an unfruitful servant. Praise God for His intervention.

2. Sometimes, I think our heart is in the wrong place when we think or say that we want to do something "great" for God. First of all, we can't do anything for Him. Second, whatever God is asking us to do, we should be thrilled that He counts us worthy servants to assign us a task - big or small.

3. The person who paid the rent contributed 10 times more than I did. Who gave more? The answer is "Neither" because we each gave according to what God had blessed us with. The important point here, is not to focus on who contributed what and how much. The important point is that we each obeyed God and used the gifts that He gave us. No matter how much or how little you have, God will show you how to use it for His glory. Don't compare yourself to others. God has blessed us all with different gifts. Whatever you do, don't hoard your gifts; use your gifts according to His direction and you will be a good and faithful servant.

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money..." Matthew 25:14-30

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