Monday, June 20, 2011

"Good to the Last Drop"

Do you remember the coffee commercial that used the line "good to the last drop"? Well, to be perfectly honest, I can't remember the brand now, but the tag sticks with me. I'm not a coffee drinker but I understand the concept here...that it's just as good at the end as it is at the beginning. It doesn't draw you in with the best, then leave with the worst, or even the so-so. No bait and switch here. It's all good.

I was thinking about this in terms of service and using my gifts/talents. I tend to think about spiritual gifts as the "big" things...teaching, preaching, prayer, etc. While they are important and very often tied to our choice of profession, what about the lesser gifts? Even as I write 'lesser' I have to stop and think about that. Are there really lesser gifts, or do we just consider them to be less important because we tend to see everything on a scale. You know what I mean, right?

  • smaller vs. larger
  • good vs. bad
  • spiritual vs. secular
  • hard vs. easy
  • little sin (usually mine) vs. big sin (usually theirs)
I'm thinking that my perspective may need a little work here...again! I just reread the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and saw something for the first time (I love it when God does that!). What I remember about this story is that the master gave each servant a different amount of money (talents) when he left, and upon his return, rewarded the two servants who had used the talents wisely to produce more. The servant who was punished had hidden the talent away and not used it at all - even in the most basic way. 

Lets look at the other two servants. What I just realized is that even though they were each given different amounts to start with and each produced a different yield in terms of a measurable result, their rewards were the same.  Read verses 21 and 23 in Matthew 25. They are the master's responses to the servant with five talents AND to the servant with two talents, and they are exactly the same! 

"Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things."

And here's the best part....

"Come and share your master's happiness."

What an invitation! What a reward! What a huge relief! Did you see what was NOT there? Two things:

First - no comparison between the servant with two talents and the servant with five. Read that again. No comparison! None! 

Second - no condemnation for servant number two for not producing as much as servant number one. Read THAT again!

 God didn't hold them each up to the same scale and condemn one for not producing as much as the other. In fact, the only condemnation found in this story is for the servant who hid the talent with no intention of increasing it, or even making any use of it at all. 

We see things with such human eyes, don't we? Big gifts, little gifts... How often do we belittle ourselves and rob ourselves of the joy of service because we believe we don't have a "big" gift, an "important" gift.

It's such a heart thing isn't it? Where our treasure is there we will find our hearts. What do we hold dear? Is it fame and fortune, recognition, our own sense of self-importance? Or do we seek to honor God and let his spirit reign free in our lives every day, which makes every act we do one of sacrifice and worship to him? 

We need to remember that the creator and sustainer of every gift is the Lord. Big or small, outstanding or ordinary, it is all from God, with purpose. 

I have a little plaque on my office wall with a quote from Erma Bombeck that says this:

"When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single 
bit of talent left and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

Can you imagine standing before God and saying something like, "That was such a lame talent! Why couldn't I have gotten something really cool?" 

While I think we would all quickly agree that we would NEVER, EVER actually say that to God's face...
but isn't that exactly what we do every time we wish for a "cooler" talent? Every time we fail to serve because we can't serve like (fill in the blank here), we are throwing our talents back in God's face and essentially saying, "That's not good enough. I won't embarrass myself by even going there." 

It is truly a heart thing. For someone with a servant's heart like our savior, there is no talent, no gift, no act of service that is not pleasing to him, and that will not bear fruit - in someone else because we have shown the love of God, or in us because we were obedient. 

Every little thing can be an act of worship if our hearts are right. The world can be a better place tonight because of what we do today if God's hand is in it. Look at your agenda for today. Look at each entry on your 'to-do' list and submit it right now to God as an act of worship and obedience. Ask for his heart, his spirit, his eyes to see opportunity, and for the grace and courage to make every act, every thought, every word a gift back to him. 

See what plans God has for every drop of talent he's given you, and have a day that glorifies your Creator! He never fades away, gets tired, or runs out of steam at the end of the day. With God, it only gets better. Remember, we're working toward the most spectacular finale ever! 

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