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We Who Have Few Talents and Sparse Gifts

We Who Have Few Talents and Sparse Gifts

If only I was wealthy, then I could really make a difference in the world,” he told me. “I want to be rich so I can better serve God’s cause, so I can give even more to his work.” But does it really take a lot of money to serve the Lord? In the New Testament, the character who most stands out for obedience and generosity is the one whose wealth was just two pennies—two pennies that she surrendered to the Lord. While the people of extraordinary wealth fade into the background, the one whose legacy has survived is the most impoverished, for she proves that God loves to work out of our lack more than out of our abundance.

“If only I had the gifting of this preacher or the skill of that author. If only I had their talents, then I could really be on mission for the Lord.” I understand why you think that way, but hasn’t the Lord often proven that he delights to display divine strength through human weakness? It was to timid Gideon that the angel said, “God is with you, mighty man of valor.” It was to stammering Moses that God gave the call to stand before Pharaoh. It was to ineloquent Paul that he gave the call to be the church’s foremost theologian. He magnifies himself more through those who are naturally weak than those who are naturally gifted and strong.

“If only I was more intelligent and had received a better education.” We all sometimes wonder what we might have been if only our circumstances had been different. We all sometimes wonder what potential lies undiscovered and untapped within. But God delights to use the weak and the simple. He saved Naaman through the words of a mere child and used a donkey to redirect Balaam. Then, of course, he called ordinary men to be his Apostles—mere fishermen and laborers. Yet these men turned the world upside down, not through their raw talent or towering intellect, but through their obedience and zeal. What set them apart was not their IQ, but the fact that they had been with Jesus, they had received his Commission, and they lived in obedience to it.

“If only I had more of a platform. If only God would give me more followers, I’d be able to serve him so much better.” I often think of the Garasene demoniac who had been miraculously delivered from a whole legion of demons. He begged to be able to go with Jesus and serve him, to be one of his disciples. Yet Jesus told him to return to his obscure hometown and to labor there. His calling was to be faithful in his own little patch, to make the most of a small mission field rather than a large one. His submission pleased and honored God.

If you cannot be satisfied with little, you will not be satisfied with much.

The fact is, the God who used spit and dust to cure a man of his blindness can most certainly make use of you. And I assure you that if you had great talents, you would simply compare yourself to those who have more still. If through greater gifting you had greater opportunity, you would still not be satisfied. If you cannot be satisfied with little, you will not be satisfied with much. The man who climbs Kilimanjaro immediately becomes envious of the man who has scaled Everest and the man who has scaled Everest immediately becomes dissatisfied that there is not some higher mountain to climb. We need to be content with what we have—content with what God has given.

Contentment comes when we accept what God has given us and commit it to his cause, no matter how great or how small it seems to our eyes. For in God’s eyes, it is all very dear, all very precious, all very meaningful. That’s true if it’s billions or pennies, health or weakness, the intellect of a genius, or the intellect of a child. God is the giver of every gift and the gifts he gives to his people are only ever good. Our task is to receive them from his hand, whether one talent or ten, and unleash them all for the good of others and the glory of his name.

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