Introduction

Losing your gift — Do you believe that the Lord has blessed you with a special gift (or gifts) and are you putting your special gift to use?

Now, there are many believers who do not necessarily believe that they have been blessed with a special gift by the Lord.  At the same time, there are many people who are outside of the faith, that actually believe in the idea that some folks have very unique and special gifts.  For example, you hear this a lot when it comes to athletes;  the best of the best are typically ascribed with having special gifts that separate them from the average athlete.  

From elementary through high school, I played in the band; I played trumpet and baritone.  When I started out, I was a learner but by the time of my senior year in high school and after many years of practice and performance, some would suggest I had a special gift.  I can remember my band director and several others that had the saying of, if you don’t use ‘it’ – the ‘it’ being my talent – you will lose it.  I learned to believe that saying definitely held a great deal of value; just as the saying of practice makes perfect.

These thoughts and memories are in my mind as I bring to attention today to the gifts of God.  I tie all of this in to focus on the questions that I first asked at the start.  First, I want to focus on the question about God blessing you with a special gift (or gifts).  Secondly, I want to speak to how we need to put to practice and use the tools that the Lord has blessed us with.  Lastly, we are going to focus on what happens when one does not practice or use the gift(s) that the Lord has blessed them with.

Gifts Given by God

Just as we look at athletes and say that the best ones are blessed with special gifts, the same is often said inside of the church.  Some sit and watch those that sing and marvel at their gift.  Others sit and watch the preacher preach and marvel at their gift of being able to preach.  Now, while some may marvel, there are others that are left wondering why God did not bless them with a special gift.  So, let’s take a few minutes to dive into this thought because it is a very mistaken thought for a child of God to have.

Our passage of focus for this study is going to come from a very familiar passage of scripture in Matthew’s gospel.  We will focus on Jesus’ telling of the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30 while also cross-referencing with a passage of scripture from Matthew 24 and 1 Corinthians 12.

God gives accordingly

So, as we open to the Parable of Talents, we will see Jesus state, “the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them (Matt. 25:14).”  Any time I discuss this parable, I always mention who and what is being represented in this parable.

So, the man that traveled to a far country is representative of God.  The far country is representative of our physical world.  The servants are representative of those that belong to God – those who genuinely believe in Him.  Let us recall that as a child of God we are called into service to be a steward (representative) and to minister His gospel to all nations of people (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Pet. 4:10).  In his letters, you will often see Paul refer to himself as a servant of Christ.  

Lastly in this parable, the gifts that are given by the man to his servants are representative of the gifts (or blessings) that God gives.  So, in summary, Jesus is speaking of God giving His blessings to all of His children (servants).  I say ‘all’ of His children because Jesus, in this parable, and in the opening verse of this parable, does not say that the man gave gifts to ‘some’ of his servants but that he gave gifts to his own servants.  

In the next verse in this passage of scripture, we will see Jesus say of the man’s giving, “And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey (Matt. 25:15).”  A talent, in this sense, has nothing to do with a skill but was used as a measurement of money for the Greeks and Romans; this was a measurement of either silver or gold.  So, the man gave to his servants a gift of money and it would seem that he did so without hesitation.

Now, what cannot be missed from this verse is the fact that the man gave to each of his servants according to their own ability.  So, what does that mean?  What this means is that the man knew his servants so well that he could determine what they would be capable of doing with what he gave to them.  So, if we think about this from a spiritual perspective, God knows His children so well that He gives His gifts knowing what each would be able to do with the gift.

Unique and special gifts

So, to answer the first question for our study, God gives His gifts to all of His children.  If you are a child of God and don’t believe you have been given a gift from the Lord, think again.  God has given to you a good and perfect gift that is tailored especially for you (Jas. 1:17).

Paul spoke of these tailored gifts to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.  (We will go back to Matthew 25 in a moment.)  Paul opened this chapter of Corinthians by stating, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all (1 Cor. 12:4-6).”

The word ‘diversities’ is used a couple of times here along with the word ‘differences’ as Paul spoke of God’s giving of gifts.  As we know, the word diversity speaks to different varieties, forms, or elements of something.  We know this perfectly well because when there is a crowd of different races and sexes, we would say that such a crowd is a diverse crowd because of its make up.

So, the gifts that God gives are plentiful and they come in different varieties, forms, and elements.  As Paul stated, “for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:8-10).”

Personally, I believe I have some very fascinating gifts.  For example, I have a gift of having a really good recall which I believe helps me when it comes to being able to minister.  I would also say that I have a gift of passion for diving into scripture for long periods of time every day of the week to continue to learn and grow in my faith and wisdom of the way of God.  I have also been blessed with the opportunity to use these gifts to share and express God’s sound doctrine confidently with others.

Now, there are certainly others who have such gifts like mine, but all of us likely use our gifts differently.  For example, my style of ministering the gospel through sermons, studies, and lessons are likely not the same as another preacher.  The same can be said for those with the gift of singing – their style of singing may not be the same as another who has such a gift.

Practicing and using your gift 

Now, I don’t want you thinking that the Lord’s gifts are limited to what Paul mentioned or what I have personally mentioned in this study; these gifts are common and easy for us to call out.  I believe the gifts that God gives have no limits and are unimaginable.  The reason I say this is because there are many believers who think only of the more common gifts for ministering the gospel and with this thought, they believe they don’t have one.  

Yet, as we have seen, all of God’s children have a gift, so you certainly have one.  What I believe is the case is that you just have not found or recognized your gift.  We cannot limit ourselves to what is common – don’t limit your imagination.  You may have a gift from the Lord that is very uncommon.  This would mean that your gift would be even more special because of how uncommon it is.  I would suggest that all believers pray that your gift be revealed so that it can be found and known by you.

Each and every gift of God is truly special and important, and they must be shared with all of those that are around; every gift He gives is meant for the purpose of ministering His gospel (Rom. 12:3-8).  What’s important is that when we recognize and have received our gift, that we actually use our gift(s).  Now, we will see why it is so important to use our gifts as we turn back over to Matthew’s gospel and look at the Parable of Talents once again.

Exalted and rewarded

 In the parable, Jesus tells us that the servants that received five and two talents, respectively, used the talents that they were given and profited (Matt. 25:16-17).  Jesus then tells us that after a long time the master of servants returned to settle accounts with them (Matt. 25:19).  

So, each servant came to him and reported what they had done with the talents that were given to them.  To the two servants that had been given five and two talents, respectively, the man told them, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord (Matt. 25:21,23).”  

This is representative of God being pleased by those who use the gifts that He has blessed them with.  Those that properly use God’s gifts for the purpose of ministering His gospel, will be highly blessed and get to enter into the joy of the Lord.

We could actually consider this to be representative of God’s judgment.  As the prophet Isaiah prophesied and Paul quoted, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Is. 45:23; Phil. 2:10-11).”  So, those who are in fellowship with Christ will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), while sinners – those that rebel against God – will be judged at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-12).

Now, I want you to pay close attention to the fact that for the servants to be considered faithful, they had to put to use what was given to them.  There are many believers that believe it is enough to say that they are faithful, but faith, as you have heard me say before, is also an action.  Let’s briefly take a look at what Jesus said about the faithful servant in Matthew 24:45-51.

Jesus asked, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season (Matt. 24:45)?”  Jesus answered, “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing (Matt. 24:46).”  So, the faithful servant is not one that sits idle in their faith but one that puts their faith into action and lives by their faith.  The genuine believer ought to diligently put their faith into action and not sit idle in it – idle faith is not faith at all.

Not using your gift from God

The servant that received one talent from his master, we are told, did not do as the other two; the servant did not use the talent given to him.  Jesus tells us that this servant buried the talent given to him in the ground and covered it up to hide it (Matt. 25:18).

So, the question is:  why did that servant choose to hide the talent given to him instead of using the talent?  Jesus tells us that the servant said, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours (Matt. 25:24-25).”

So, the servant feared he would not be able to pay his master the talent back had he lost it.  Now, what is most fascinating about this way of thinking is that his master never said anything about the servants having to pay him back.  The master gave the servants those talents freely!  So, had they lost the talents by actually trying to use them, it would not have been a big deal to the master.  The servant had absolutely no reason to fear, but he feared!

While some believers don’t use their gift because they don’t believe they have been given a gift, there are others who don’t use their gift because they are fearful of using it.  I don’t believe they are necessarily fearful for the reasons of this servant, but there are many people that are afraid of testifying of God by using their gift.  So, they bury their gift and do not put it to practice or use.

The master desired that the talents be put to use by all of the servants, not sit idle.  God gives all of His children His gifts with the desire that they be used and not sit idle.  So, we should not be fearful of using the gifts that God has given to us; we cannot be afraid to testify of God.

An unfaithful servant loses their gift

Now, I want you to pay close attention to the master’s response to this servant’s inaction – he was not pleased.  The master calls him a “wicked and lazy servant” (Matt. 25:26).  The master then tells him that he should have done the least with the talent; in this case it was depositing the money into a bank so that it could gain some interest.  Because this servant did nothing with the talent that was given to Him, what he feared would happen ended up happening as the master took the talent away from him and gave it to the servant who had grew his talent to ten talents.

Just as the master was not pleased with this servant, the Lord is not pleased with those who do not use the gifts that He has given to them.  If we look back to Jesus’ teaching about the faithful servant, we will see that He also spoke of the unfaithful (evil) servant.

Jesus stated of the unfaithful servant, “But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 24:48-51).”

So, we should understand that an unfaithful servant is one that is lazy in their faith.  Now, If you recall from my study on the three levels of faith, the unfaithful servant sounds a lot like someone who grew to have a little faith at one point in time but did not keep on growing in their faith.  When one’s faith in the Lord sits idle long enough, it goes dead and they fall back to having no faith.  Those who are of no faith are not ones who can truly say that they are a servant of the Lord.  So, what use are they for the Lord at that point?

Keep growing and using your gift from God

Now, I certainly believe that it is possible for someone to lose their gift from God due to their idleness in using the gift.  God will take away that gift from the unfaithful servant and give it to one who is growing strong in the faith or is already strong in the faith.  So, again, I would certainly encourage you to continue growing in your faith and to keep on using the gift that God has given to you.

When we use the gift that God has given to us, we are only going to get better and better at using our gift.  Just as the two servants doubled their portion, we are going to keep adding to our gift the more and more we use it.  Great athletes all share one thing in common and that is their diligence in practicing and using their skill.  We should not be so different when it comes to the gifts that God has given to us.  You see, using what God has given to us is a sign of our faith.

Alright, that is our study for this week and I certainly hope that you enjoyed this study and that you are able to take something away from this study.  Again, if you don’t believe that God has given you a gift, I tell you that He has given it to you and you don’t have to search hard for it.  Pray that the Lord reveal your gift to you so that you can put your gift to use.  If you have grown lazy in using your gift, I encourage you to get up and get to action in your faith.

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