I have a young niece who is developing her talent for acting. As her desire is to please the Lord, she and her parents are paying attention to how the Lord’s favor is opening doors for her, and they are watching for signs of His encouragement. I have seen her in various roles over the last few years, and it is indeed obvious that God has given her an aptitude for the craft. It remains to be seen what His ultimate plans and purposes are, but for now we are charmed to see His careful attention to the cultivation of this expression of creativity. He is, after all, Creator God.
I think sometimes we forget that whatever “natural ability” we may have, God has given it to us on purpose. We may say, when we see a unique display of skill, “that person has a God-given talent.” But do we live and interact with others on a daily basis as though all skill and talent are truly God-ordained, God-designed, and God-commissioned? Do we think that if we “come by it naturally,” it doesn’t have much to do with God’s calling us into His Kingdom?
Consider the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. In this story, a talent was a denomination of currency, but of course there are many resources that can be used for investment with an eye for multiplied return. Here, Jesus speaks of three different servants of a man who was going on a journey. Before he left, the man gave each servant a number of talents, “each according to this own ability.” When the man returned from his travels, two of the three had increased his investment, and he was pleased, expressing his joy and embracing them into his own happiness. The third had been afraid of losing what his master had given him and so had only buried the invested funds so as to keep them safe. This was not at all pleasing to the man who had entrusted his resources with an expectation of bringing the satisfaction of ability and creativity to his servants while increasing his wealth.
There is much to be gleaned from this story, and many others more scholarly than I have mined it well over the centuries. As I ponder the nature of my relationship with God and His call on my life to love Him and love others, there are a couple of things that stand out to me. God wants us to enjoy the satisfaction of labor as we work creatively within the ability He has given us. The good servants in this story did not expect to keep the rewards of their labor, but they did work diligently and with excellence within their respective areas of expertise with a desire to honor their master. And what they ultimately received was more than the sum of multiplied investment.
Yes, we each have God-given ability and talent. And it says so much about the heart of God that He wants us to cultivate and develop these gifts for our enjoyment and discovery while He works behind the scenes to bring about His own good purposes for the people whom our endeavors touch either directly or indirectly. When we work in this way, with joy and with excellence, out of love for the One who created us, He is glorified and others are served, encouraged, enlightened and helped.
I want this understanding and this knowledge of God’s heart to permeate my life, whether I am working at my desk, cleaning the kitchen, crafting a blog, or enjoying a few moments with pen and paper or watercolors. To remember He made me, and I did not make myself. To develop those things He gave me in faith, believing that His good plan is unfolding as I do. To rejoice and give thanks whenever I see good and lovely expressions of creativity, knowing that these things mysteriously flow from His own wonderful imagination.
As the psalmist says in Psalm 33:3, “Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy.” Whatever we do, we should be doing it skillfully, with excellence, as unto the Lord.
This week, dear reader, think about what you do well. What is it that gives you labor satisfaction? Whatever it is, God gave it to you. And He gave it to you on purpose. It is entirely acceptable for you to enjoy the talent, to be satisfied with the skill, and to continue to develop it. With your grateful acknowledgement that all you have done the Lord has accomplished for you, your work becomes worship. In this way, you “present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB) And, no doubt, you will hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s happiness.”
Until next week, beloved, pursue excellence and worship Him in every good endeavor.