I recently read an article about the countless billions of dollars that have been saved and stored up outside the mainstream financial system. The author explained that many people have lost their confidence in banks and other institutions and have responded by finding alternative ways to protect their wealth. Some have kept it in the form of cash and hidden great stacks of bills in the walls of their homes or in the backs of their closets. Others have converted it to precious metals and locked it in home safes or buried it in the ground. Others have found still more ways to keep it and protect it.
I blame no one for being suspicious of the financial system and for pursuing alternatives. The purpose of the article was not to criticize these people, but to point out that such wealth is often not doing a great deal of good—it is not being traded, it is not being invested, it is not gaining interest, and if it’s in the form of cash, it’s not even keeping up with inflation. But again, that’s for each individual to decide.
I have little interest in what people do with their wealth, for each of us must do what we believe right with the means God has given us. But I do have a much greater interest in a related matter—what people do with their gifts.
It is clear from Scripture that God bestows upon each of us various gifts. Among them are the spiritual gifts he gives to Christians through which they can bless and serve one another, the gifts that come through our natural talents and inclinations, the gifts that come to us through the circumstances arranged by his providence, and undoubtedly many more. We are responsible for them all—responsible to put them to use for the good of others and the glory of God.
To put them to good use means we need to identify them, to foster them, and to deploy them. And that little article about the way people protect their wealth got me thinking about how many of our gifts and talents we have also “protected” without putting them to use. It forced me to consider how many of God’s gifts we have “buried,” how many we have failed to nurture and develop.
God has given you talents—things you may be unusually good at. Are you using these for his glory?
God has given you spiritual gifts he means for you to use in love and service to other believers. Have you identified the ways in which he may have gifted you?
God has bestowed upon you a greater-than-usual enthusiasm for a certain issue or cause. Are you pursuing it enthusiastically?
God has arranged providence to grant you joys and sorrows and he intends that these work themselves out in ministering to others. Have you accepted them as being from his hand and have you deployed them for his glory?
One of my daily prayers is, “I pray that this day I would use my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and for your glory.” But I know that praying that I would use the gifts God has granted me is not the same as examining what other gifts God may have given or fostering development in the ones I’m certain he has. But what I do know is that I am responsible for each and every one of them—responsible to be a faithful steward of all that God has entrusted to me.