Some people have the talent to play very good music. Some have a gift for speaking. Some have a special care for people around them. And others maybe feel like they don’t have any talents at all.
We have not all been created with the same talents and abilities, but we all have been given the possibility to do the good. There are different ways that I can use the talents and opportunities that I have been given. I can choose to bless the others … or I can be selfish and use my talents and abilities to impress people. I need to ask myself: What are my intentions? What is in my heart?
“Look at me! Look at what I can do!” Maybe I don’t say it out loud, but I am probably thinking it. Maybe I’m secretly watching the people around me, watching for their reactions to see if they say, “Wow, you’re really good at that.” But do I admit to myself how selfish these thoughts are and the unrest that is coming from this? If I think that my talents and abilities can make me happy and content, then I have lost focus on God’s purpose for giving me these talents.
Using my talents for God
Why did God give me the talents that I have? What does He want me to do with them? This is made clear in Philippians 2:3 (NLT) where it says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Our talents should be used to serve God, and part of that is to serve others – to be humble and think highly about the others!
To be humble isn’t very popular. The spirit of the times teaches us from a young age to make ourselves great. We learn this from many famous people and sports stars who like to tell everyone how talented they are. Is this influence the reason why I also expect, or maybe even demand, praise from others when I have done something well? To be admired by others might look like a good life to have, but the truth is that if I live only for receiving admiration, then my life is empty and its rewards are gone in a moment.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. Remember that the Lord will give you as a reward what he has kept for his people. For Christ is the real Master you serve. And all wrongdoers will be repaid for the wrong things they do, because God judges everyone by the same standard.” Colossians 3:23-25 (GNT).
There is no peace when I am seeking praise and admiration from others. Instead, I become more and more selfish until all my thoughts are about myself: How do people see me; what are the others saying about me? etc. The result is that I don’t really grow in love for God and for the others.
But how can I get free from all this thinking just about myself that so often stops me from showing a true love and care for others?
It has been given to me
“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” Romans 12:3.
When I am tempted to become proud, I need to remember that everything I have has been given to me. I also need to remember that my earthly talents are worth nothing in eternity. It is not my talent itself that means anything, but what I use it for. Do I maybe think that it is easier to get into heaven if I can sing well? Or if I have another talent? What really matters is that I live my life for God, serving Him in simple faith and obedience. What really matters is the love that I show for others. The talents God has given me, great or small, should be used for this purpose.
If all my talents were taken away today, how would I react? If I hurt my leg so badly that I couldn’t play sports, or broke my hand and couldn’t play my musical instrument anymore, how would I react? Would others still feel a real warmth and love coming from me, or would they sense bitterness?
What am I seeking?
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2.
I need to be honest with myself about why I am using my talents. If I go around, looking for people to admire me, then I’m focused on things of the earth – seeking praise and satisfaction. A bitter taste comes out of actions that are done with selfish motives. But if I use my talents to serve God and bless the others, then there can be a real, lifelong value. Here I have to be completely honest with myself. My talents shouldn’t be a stumbling block for my growth in God.
But what if I feel like I haven’t received so many talents? I can quickly be tempted to be jealous when I see that some of my friends can do this or that so well. I need to guard my heart against this. James 3:16 (NCV) reads: “Where jealousy and selfishness are, there will be confusion and every kind of evil.” Jealousy leads to conflict, and it stops me from being happy when I see someone else using their gifts to bless.
Peter says in 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NLT), “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” God knew me long before He created the earth, and He knowingly made me exactly as I am, and He has a plan for my life. He wants me to use my talents in a way that is pleasing to Him rather than to myself. If I use them correctly, my talents can be a very useful tool in building friendships and in blessing and enriching the lives of others around me.
When the time comes for me to meet my Creator, my talents will fall away, but the results of what I used them for will remain. In the end, what matters is how I serve God with the talents and abilities I’ve been given, and that I am well-pleasing to Him. May my life be a life lived to God’s glory, a life full of heavenly content and blessing!