"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 9, 2014
I recently read a quote that said: "Privilege and responsibility are two sides of the same coin."
Many times we want things done, but we don't want to be the ones to do them. I've been guilty of that myself, more times than not. I've even complained that something isn't being done, but was not willing to get involved and do it myself. It's easier to shoulder the blame onto someone else, thinking that they should be the one to carry particular responsibilities. But if we want the privilege of having something done, then perhaps we also need to be willing to carry the responsibility.
Sometimes we tend to make excuses for not participating or being involved, thinking that we are validating our unresponsiveness. There may be good reasons why we can't do something, and we don't have to be involved in every activity, but there is a difference between a reason and an excuse. A reason is a valid justification or explanation; while an excuse is an attempt to justify.
We are not gifted in all areas and we all have different talents and abilities. But we need to be willing to use the talents that God has given us in those areas where we can be most effective. Not everyone's gift is in an area where others take notice and what they do is not necessarily obvious to very many people. But that doesn't make them less needed than someone who stands out in front and gets more attention. It takes each of us doing what God gifts us to do, in order to make not only our churches, but also our families and communities and workplaces, the most effective.
In Matthew 25:14-30 we read the story of the parable of the talents. Jesus used this parable to illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven.
The parable goes: There was a man going on a long trip. He called all his servants together and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last. He divided it in proportion to their abilities. Note that last line: Not all three people had the same level of skills, talents, or abilities. But the master of the house divided out his silver according to each servant's abilities.
The servant who received five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master's money.
Finally the day arrived when the master returned from his trip. He called the three servants together so they could account for the money he had entrusted to them. When the first two servants showed him that they had doubled his money, the master was full of praise. His response to them both were, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let's celebrate together!"
The third man responded by telling the master, "I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn't plant and gathering crops you didn't cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back."
The master replied, "You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew this about me, why didn't you deposit the money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it." He then ordered for the money to be taken from the servant, and it be given to the one with the ten bags of silver. He said, "To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
There is an old song that says, "Little is much when God is in it. Labor not for wealth or fame. There's a crown, and you can win it; if you go in Jesus name."
I think perhaps the reason many of us feel inadequate in our talents and abilities is because we tend to compare ourselves to those around us. We think we didn't receive as many talents as others; or that ours isn't as good. Perhaps we even feel like God handed us the leftovers. So we do nothing with what God has entrusted to us, thinking we won't make a difference or no one will notice. But God will notice!
Overall, few christians are called to be pastors or evangelist. The majority are called to be lay people within the church. And we all are called to be active in our family and in our daily lives, wherever that may be. Not everyone has the ability to sing or play an instrument. Not everyone has the gift of teaching. Yes, God does entrust those gifts to some, which I am thankful for. But what about those things that are unseen or unnoticed?
Some enjoy cleaning and are good at it! Others are good at hospitality and cooking. Then we have those who are prayer warriors, and you know you can count on them to get on their knees and intercede on your behalf when you have a need. Some are thoughtful and are always thinking of little things to do for others. There are those who always seem to have a word of encouragement and will call or send a card or give a hug or say the right thing at the right time. Others have writing skills. There is such a vast variety of talents and abilities and skills that God gives: financial, technical, mechanical, mowing and yard work, decorating, babysitting, medical, counseling, inventing, sewing, photography.......... and on and on the list could go.
If you think you were overlooked and have no talents or gifts, ask yourself what you enjoy doing or what you are good at. Chances are, that is an area where God has blessed you. Find a way to use that gift. You think what you enjoy doing most is talking? Then find a shut-in who can't get out much and go visit them. I'm sure they'd love to have a conversation with someone. You enjoy cleaning? Then volunteer to clean your church or clean for someone who has had surgery. Eating is your favorite thing to do? Then cook a meal and invite someone over to share it with you -- or take someone out to eat. Every community has elderly or college students on a budget who would love sharing a meal with you.
Whatever it is that we enjoy doing the most, God can take that and use it. Don't ever think that you are useless and have no talents or abilities to share. By doing so, you are burying your talent in the ground and not putting it to use. We all have something to offer to someone. It may seem little in our eyes, but God can multiply it and make it something big in the life of someone else.
My mom once mentioned a conversation she had about a man in the church who seemed especially surly. My Aunt Marilyn said, "Well, we're all parts of the Body of Christ. Someone has to be the bowels." Or something similar.
In the church, we all have our place. That surly man would probably make a horrible door greeter. Or teacher, councilor, preacher, or visitor at hospitals. But he may have been a fantastic accountant or janitor.
Everyone can find a way to help others, even if it is as far away from others as possible.
Country Fried Okra
Okra, cut into chunks
Dip okra in buttermilk to coat; roll in flour. Salt and pepper, to taste. Deep fry in oil until golden brown. You can also substitute cornmeal for flour, if desired. (You also don't have to have a deep fryer, but can heat oil in a skillet and fry -- which is my preferred way to cook it.)
You can also cook squash this same way; slice, then dip in buttermilk to coat. Roll in either flour or cornmeal; salt and pepper, to taste. For squash, I don't deep fry, but put some oil in a skillet and heat, then fry to a golden brown.
On the trip I recently made to California with my sister and her 12 year old son, we were telling Devin that in a few years he would be old enough to get his driver's license and could help us drive. Previous to that conversation, we had stopped at an old Harvey House museum that was right beside a train yard. There had been several train cars out front that Devin got to climb on and look inside the windows. He was enthralled with the trains and had decided that when he grows up he wants to be a train engineer. When we told him that in 3-1/2 years he would be able to help us drive, he informed us that he was not going to drive a car, but was going to drive a train. We told him that he may very well be a train engineer, but he would also have to learn how to drive a car. After all, a train didn't go to Janie's house or to Walmart. I'm not sure we convinced him!
A few days later, we were telling Jon and my nephew, Jared, about that conversation. They were teasing him that he would need to drive a car so that he when he got a girlfriend he could take her out on a date. He told them, "I believe I will choose to stay single!" Hmm..... wonder how long it will be before he changes his mind?!?
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. - Abraham Lincoln
We love you!
Loretta & Jon