Misused Opportunities And Unused Talents
Misused opportunities and unused talents. I think that's the best way I would describe the way most of us live out our youth. And for a lot of people, our whole lives. Because we have this mindset of "one day" and "not enough."
One day, when I have more followers, then I'll use my social media to point people to Jesus, but for now, while it's just my friends and cute guys following me, I can post selfies and clever captions. It's just for fun. Let the people who are real bloggers, writers and influencers use social media for good.
One day, when I make more money or have a full time job, then I'll give more to the poor, tithe and support charities, orphans and widows. Today, though, I can barely afford Starbucks with my friends every week and the latest iPhone.
One day, once I figure out what God has called me to do, then I'll start living out life intentionally and being fruitful in the kingdom of God, but for now it's okay to just have fun with my friends, watch TV and spend hours on social media. I mean, I don't really know what God wants me to do.
One day, when I'm more spiritually mature and know the Bible better, then I'll tell people around me about the Gospel. I'm sure right now though, they can just tell I'm a Christian without me saying anything.
One day, when I have the necessary education, financing, time and opportunities, then I'll pursue that dream that God put on my heart years ago. One day, when I’m ready...
One day, when I have more time, then I'll go to church more often, do stuff for God, and talk to my parents more often. I'm too busy right now, as evident by active social media use, Netflix usage and all the time I spend hanging out with my friends. Or maybe you're on the other end of the spectrum, building up a name, a brand, a career and a large bank account for yourself. You first, then God's work.... one day.
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. -Ecclesiastes 11:9
Friend, TODAY is ONE DAY. Because we already have everything we need to live out an intentional life for eternity. God is already speaking to each one of us, ready to guide us. If only we'd ask. If only we'd stop the noise and listen. If only we'd actually start doing.
Because if you make $100 a month now, and give out of your need to someone who has a bigger need, you'll do the same if one day you make $100,000.
Because you'll never have more time than you do today.
Because you'll never get a step by step plan for how to do this life. You just go and do. Just start. Be faithful with what you have TODAY.
Because you'll never feel ready or have all the resources and finances you need, if your mindset is always one of scarcity and a desire for more than what you already have.
Because TV and social media will never seem less enticing - they were created to be an addictive distraction. Every time you scroll down, your brain will always expect to see something new.
Because you might say, "Jesus, all I have is two loaves of bread and five fish, and there are thousands of hungry people out there." To you, that is a limit. It is an impossible situation. Like the apostles, you'd rather just send them home to fend for themselves. You'd rather do nothing. But Jesus saw the infinite. He knew that if the apostles gave Him all they had, He would make of it more than enough.
Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth. And each one of us says we don't have enough to help solve that problem. Let the Bill Gates of this world handle that. But what if each of us gave what we had of our time, talents, finances, and compassion - each one where we are in all corners of the world - and let Jesus give the increase to make not enough, more than enough?
They told David he was too small, too inexperienced, too young to take on a giant. But David knew the Lord of the living armies, and God took what was not enough and brought victory.
Mary was just a girl. Esther was just a pretty wife. Jeremiah was a teenager. The apostles were a random mix of nobodies, doubters, fishermen and tax collectors. Moses had a stutter and zero leadership skills. Paul had a nasty past. Ruth was an outcast. Jonah ran away.
Mary gave birth to the savior of the world. Esther saved her nation from genocide. Jeremiah became one of the most known prophets. The apostles became the key leaders of the first church. Moses lead the Israelites for 40 years. Paul wrote half the new testament. Ruth became part of the most notable lineage of the Israelites. God brought Jonah right back to the mission field and used him to save an entire city.
The truth is, if you don't start today with what you have, you're not likely to do it later. This life passes by so fast and you never know what difficulties or restraints the next season will bring. You're never guaranteed to make more money, have more time, finally get the experience you need to start working on that dream or to make it to whatever line in the sand you drew for when “one day” begins.
Because you have it, friend. That thing you say you do not have, to do what God put on your heart to do; to live out the kind of life the Bible teaches us to live out.
Jesus taught a lot about this. Like here:
For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. -Matthew 13:12
Because you know what happens when you don't use what you have? When you're idle or hide what's been entrusted to you because you just don't know what to do with it?
What you have will be taken away. As Alexander MacLaren describes it, "Hopes nourished are gone; opportunities unimproved are gone, capacities undeveloped are gone; fold after fold, as it were, is peeled off the soul, until there is nothing left but naked self, pauperised and empty-handed for evermore. 'Take it from [her]. [S]he never was the better for it; [s]he never used it; [s]he shall have it no longer.'"
We’ve all heard the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, but many times when this story is taught, people focus on the leaving and coming back part. Yet, the definition of “prodigal” is spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant. We gloss over the fact that the son wasted all that he was given by his father for his own pleasure. He did not put it to productive use, invest it or give it away. No, he spent it recklessly and extravagantly.
The servants in Matthew 25:14-30 were also given resources by their master. Two of the servants invested what they were given and multiplied their master’s wealth and reach, but there was one servant who hid his one talent. Because he feared the master and he didn’t want to use that one talent wrongly, so instead he did nothing. When his master returned, he was angry with this servant and took away what he was given until he was left with nothing.
Because “not knowing what to do” is not an excuse God accepts.
“…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue…” -2 Peter 1:3
It is really that simple: if any woman wills to do His will and seeks to grow in her knowledge of God, she shall know. That is Christ's promise and it will be fulfilled to us all.
Friend, I write this and am convicted. I hope and pray you are too. But what do we do about it now? Can we afford to go on living as we used to now that we know what needs to change? Here is how I'm going to try to live this lesson out and I hope you'll join me:
Confess of your idleness.
Go through each area of your life: how you spend your time, where you spend your money, and what you use your talents/skills/resources for. Call out into the light where idleness grows and where there is a lack of fruitfulness for kingdom work.
Pray for God to give you eyes that see and ears that hear.
Pray for renewal and wisdom, and then listen to Him start to speak to you through the people in your life, through the Bible, and through sermons. Watch for the opportunities - small and ordinary as they may be - God gives you to obey and serve Him and His people.
“Young man and young woman just entering life, "I have a message from God unto thee." God bids me tell you that you have in your possession a priceless treasure which He has committed to you to be used for His glory, and for which He will hold you hereafter to a strict account. You are in the possession of sensibilities not yet dead to the influence of His grace. He has afforded you a perfect knowledge of His will, and He has, moreover, brought to bear upon your hearts the power of His Spirit. He tells you that you may squander and lose all the advantages which you now possess, but He warns you of the result.” -W. Rudder, D. D.
Train your mind to see all that you already have as enough.
When your mind begins to wish for more or you begin to think that you'll do something one day when you have x, y or z. To go more into depth on this, study the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14–30. What is Jesus trying to teach us through this parable?
Recognize that we cannot be fruitful on our own.
You and I can't make things happen for God if we are not rooted in Him. Study John 15, and begin to notice how the more time you spend in His word and His presence, the calmer you are and the more ready you become to do what He gives you to do each day.
Make an inventory of what you already have.
The money in your account. The gaps in your schedule - especially if you minimize your social media usage/TV watching and limit the time you spent idly hanging out with friends/online shopping/aimless online browsing. What are some things you're good at and enjoy doing? Now, make another column with a different kind of list. Prayerfully consider the needs you see in your family, church, community and the world. What makes your heart sad to see? Where do you see hardship or who is facing heartache in your corner of the world? What does the Bile call us to do for our neighbors and the church of Christ? Finally, can you find intersections between the two columns?
For example, if you love to bake, is there an elderly couple or a new mom in your church you can bake a cake for? Especially if you know they have a birthday coming up and are not likely to have the strength/time/finances to bake a birthday cake? Or if you're good with social media, is there a local non profit or even your youth's social media page you can help with? If you're a people person, volunteer to be a door greeter at your church or sign up to visit a local nursing home weekly to chat with people. Because it doesn't have to be extraordinary to be significant; it doesn't have to be at church or in Africa to be missionary, Kingdom work.
So, what is it God is calling you to do TODAY?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yelena is the founder and editor in chief Tirzah. Yelena works as an attorney in international tax consulting and in her spare time, she is working on her first book for unmarried twenty-something women in extended waiting seasons and running Tirzah. She has a passion for pointing young women to Christ, and enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with her family.