Last night at church we had a guest speaker, John D. Martin, who shared with us about Investing Kingdom Resources. He started his message with a list of shocking statistics, helping us see how filthy rich we are in America. He showed us in Matthew 25 that at the final judgement the sheep will be divided from the goats and the difference between the two is quite simple. The sheep were people who lived life with their hands wide open to help others- the sick, the poor, the incarcerated, the misfits. The goats were hoarding their resources for themselves, more invested in their own comfort and convenience than in loving with action. What we say we believe is not the thing. What we do is the thing that shows what we believe.
Matthew 25 also contains the Parable of the Talents. It tells of a master who gave his servants money to invest while he went away on a journey. One of the servants was lazy and just buried his talent to keep it safe until the master returned. While I know that a talent is a monetary term in the parable, it also seems to be the origin of our using “talent” when we mean “natural aptitude or skill”. I am certain that Jesus has given all of us resources to invest, regardless of our bank balance. It is possible to write a large check, dust off the hands, and feel satisfied that I have done my part for the kingdom of God. It is also possible to have very little money, and yet live selflessly, freely investing my life for the sake of others.
If I were to title this past year in hindsight, I would call it The Year of Receiving. It was a humbling, eye opening experience to be the genuinely needy ones, husband sick, unable to work, bills piling up, resources already shrunken, now withered to less than enough. The day after Gabe’s bowel resection, I came home from the hospital in utter exhaustion and found my house immaculately clean. Laundry done, groceries on the table and in the fridge, gifts of kindness one can never repay. Our children were cared for by large hearted grandparents who helped them deal with the stress of having a sick papa. Someone picked up prescriptions and threw away the receipt so we couldn’t repay them. Gift cards, checks in the mail, visits, hot meals, unbelievable generosity. I cannot put a dollar amount on the comfort of feeling loved and surrounded in our vulnerable place.
I have done a lot of thinking about stinginess, my heart’s clutching of its stuff to preserve it. I like to think of myself as a generous person, so it comes as a bit of a shock to see how many times I protect myself. It is only natural to keep some reserves for lean times. It is inconvenient to pour out my soul for other people, you know. Something about the dying to self just kind of gets to me.
Practically, today my investments in the kingdom may mean that my backyard is plenty of space to exercise my talents. I may end up throwing a football instead of reading my new book. Investing myself may involve making play dough, even though I hate how messy it makes my saucepan. I can carry the needs of a friend to our Father in heaven. It could include watching my man rush off to rescue someone who needs help on a holiday. Using my talents may even include getting up early to do a bit of writing. 🙂