The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, June 25th comes to us from Keith Hailey of Kansas.
Matthew 25:14-30 NRSV 14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return, I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’.
Despite being raised by loving Christian parents, I began drinking at age 16. Soon after, I added drugs to the mix and spent the next 26 years in a stupor. When I received a court order to attend recovery meetings, I finally got sober. During one such gathering, I started reading sections of the Bible and letting God speak to me through the reading.
One day I started reading about the man with one talent. The master was displeased because the man did nothing with it. I knew then that it was time to start using the “talent” that God had given me — my wonderful singing voice. For over 20 years now, I have been singing God’s praises regularly at church and the local nursing home. Each time I sing, God blesses me anew. The joy I get from singing far outweighs any that alcohol or drugs could produce.
These last two years, being able to sing during health problems has kept me looking forward to better days. God saved me from myself by helping me to use my talent in God’s service. I am thankful for the opportunities to sing praises to God’s name.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, show us how to use the talents we have been given to bless others as you have blessed us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
– Keith Hailey
At the end of nearly all our live stream worship services, I conclude with the words: You are a blessing from God. Go be a blessing. Indeed, God has equipped us to serve with joy, worship with passion and share abundantly. God has given each of us gifts and talents to enhance and advance the mission of our local communities of faith. Our mission is to welcome and connect all people to God through relevant discipleship and service. Each of us can certainly help others to feel welcome, even as we practice social distancing. Each of us can be a model of how connecting with Christ has transformed our lives. Each of us can grow in our knowledge and appreciation of our loving God as we seek the well-being of others. Each of us can, but will we?
Keith’s reflection offers us an opportunity for self-evaluation to discover if we are using our gifts or how best might we use our gifts. The scripture for today urges us to consider how we might use our gifts, in partnership with God, to exponentially multiply the impact of the gospel of Christ. We are not all gifted in the same way. I love music but God has not given me the gift being a singer. God has placed, within each local community of faith, a multiplicity of gifts, so that they might work in harmony to encourage, empower, and equip others. We encourage one another during our good and challenging seasons, we empower one another to serve in ways their passionate about and we equip one another to live as authentic and consistent children of God.
If you are unsure what your gift might be, there are many resources to help you discover your gifts. You can take a spiritual gift inventories, talk with trusted and wise family members and/or myself. God has given each of us a gift, discovering, learning and deploying them is part of what it means to mature as a disciple of Christ. Take some time to prayerfully consider the gift God has given to you and how you might use it to enrich the life of your local community of faith.