I used to think that we each had a special gift or gifts that we received from God. Some of us could speak or teach or write. Others had an earning potential, or a special knack for listening or physical service of labor. Those were our gifts and it was our responsibility to use them for the benefit of others. But I was wrong.
I have a friend who is blessed materially. We had, upon occasion, discussed the issue of our gifts and had identified the physical blessing as a gifts. One day, when I was with my friend, a situation came up in which a couple we knew needed to make an unexpected trip to minister to brethren in Christ. However they could not afford to make the trip. Realizing the need, my friend bought the tickets.
Afterward, we talked about the situation ... about using God's gifts. And it occurred to me, these gifts are not MY gifts from God, which I am to use. These are GOD'S gifts and I am the STEWARD. It is my responsibility to be sure that those whom He has selected benefit from HIS gifts.
This understanding changed my idea of gifts in many ways. First, I am the steward. I have no reason to be proud or take credit for the gift. It is NOT my gift. It is GOD'S gift. And, I have no reason to be jealous of the gift that others have ... they, too, are God's.
Second, I must stay in contact with God to be sure that I am distributing His gift as He wills. This is not my call. It is HIS call. If I'm not listening, I might misuse, or worse, not use His gift at all.
Third, I must remember that there are beneficiaries of God's gifts. His gifts should not end with me. I am not the sole benefactor of God's gifts. I am the steward. It is very possible that I am affecting other people's lives because I am sitting on God's gifts. When I thought that the gift was mine, that God had given it to me, I felt that if I did not use my gift, I would be the one who would be most affected. However, when I realized that I am the steward of God's gift, the responsibility to distribute His gift was clear.
I had always believed that I was responsible for using the gifts that God had given me to His glory. My perspective changed when God helped me see that all of those gifts remain His gifts. I am the conduit. His gifts are supposed to move on to another destination. His gifts are not mine to keep.
An impressive phenomenon of God's word is its ability to reveal something new from a page that is yellowed and dog-eared. I opened my Bible to Matthew 25:14 to read over the parable of the talents. The parable is about a man who is going to travel to a far country. Before he leaves, he calls his three servants together to give them "...his goods." THERE IT WAS! Just as I had finally come to understand! The goods (or talents) did not belong to his servants. They were HIS talents. The first two servants went and traded the talents and increased the goods. They did not keep them as the third servant did who "hid his Lord's money".
When the man returned, he praised the first two servants and gave them more of his goods to rule over. However, the third servant explained his decision to hide the money by pointing out that he knew that his master was a hard man "who reaped where he had not sown and gathered where he had not strawed." So, he was afraid and hid the talent, which he then offered back to his master. It is an interesting point; the man does not deny that he was tough. He condemned the servant for keeping his goods. For doing nothing.
The point of the story is not that the man became wealthier because of his first two servants. The point is that they were responsible stewards of HIS goods. They were a glory to him.
God's gifts are as varied as His ability to design them. We are not to be keepers of His gifts. We are stewards of His gifts. Somewhere out there God has someone who is to benefit from His gift. We must see that they do.
Copyright (c) 2000, by Janet Phillips. Used by permission.
Janet Phillips is associated with Talents Ministries, and is the daughter of Pastor Ted Phillips.