God’s Reward Equation is Nothing Like The World’s
Once a lady came up to me for prayer at church and told me she didn’t believe she had any talents and felt like her life was purposeless. At the time, the focus of my prayer was on her discovering her talents and gifts and stepping into her purpose regarding those. In contrast, I have recently felt that I am good at many things but not excellent at anything. I have been just as desperate as she was in desiring to be purposeful in my talents and gifts, equally in despair because I felt like I had so many tools yet have produced so little with them. Thankfully through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, my understanding of this is renewed and I no longer feel this despair. The revelation I have received regarding this can be illustrated using two Bible passages (the Bible is amazing if you don’t know). Here are the passages. Read on for my revelation. It’s worth it.
The Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30:
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Running the Race in 1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
When we consider the parable of the talents, the most common truth that people are drawn to and fixated on is that God gives us talents. ‘Talents’ is a currency, so the parable is talking about money, not talents, but you can see that each was given an amount ‘according to his ability’ so you can consider the amount they received as a measure of their talent. The default is to read this, to paraphrase it as ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’, the well-known verse in Luke 12:48, and then go away feeling mightily inadequate because you either feel like you haven’t been given enough or you’re not doing enough with what you’ve been given. Basically, you become filled with grief, feelings of inadequacy and guilt. This was not Jesus’ intention (after all he made up this awesome parable). His intention was completely different…
It just takes us looking at the parable from a different perspective. Given that all of Jesus’ parables were created and spoken to help people understand the nature of God, this passage alludes to the truth that God indeed gives people different amounts of abilities and talents. WAIT? HOLD UP?!!! THAT’S UNFAIR?!!!! Is this exactly what you’re thinking? Well, it makes complete sense. Yes it’s unfair, but only if you look at it through the world’s eyes and not Jesus’ eyes.
The world says:
The more talented you are the more you are rewarded
The more high-skilled your job the more you are rewarded
The more educated you are the more you are rewarded
The more money you have (often linked to ability) the more you are rewarded
The more successful you are the more you are rewarded
The more beautiful (attractiveness is a gift in itself) you are the more you are rewarded
The more popular (social skills are also gifts) you are the more you are rewarded
If God rewarded us based on the world’s criteria then yes, giving us unequal amounts of abilities would be horrifically and brutally unfair. Thankfully, this is so far from the truth. I would certainly not choose to follow him if that was the case.
The truth is, God rewards us based on how much we put our trust and faith in him and how much we show gratitude for what he has given us. You see, the parable is not meant to make you compare your talents and gifts to others, it is meant to make you see the real purpose of one, two or five talents. It is meant to make you see that God doesn’t care about how much you have, he cares about how grateful you are for what you have.
This is God’s Reward Equation:
[Gratitude]/[Amount of Talent] = [Reward]
So, if I remember my Maths correctly, the amount God rewards us is inversely proportional to the Amount of Talent we have. Check this out: say you have the one talent but a gratitude score of 10. Your reward will be 10! If you have five talents and your gratitude score is the same 10 (you show the same level of gratitude), your reward is 2! That’s way less.
Alright, it’s important now to qualify gratitude to make this equation make more sense. Gratitude, to God, is not just the amount of times you say thank you. True gratitude shows in your actions. You can say thank you many times, but it is through your daily living that you show earnest and honest gratitude.
You show gratitude by:
Being generous to others because God is generous to you and you trust him to provide
Investing what you have in yourself, your family and community to build God’s kingdom
Being content in what you have and not comparing yourself to others
Sharing with others about the greatness of God
Trusting your life in God’s hands and pursuing Him fiercely
Loving God through your obedience and pursuit of righteousness (becoming like Him)
This is where the second Bible passage comes in:
‘Run in such a way as to get the prize’
[Prize] = [Reward]
aka [Gratitude]/[Amount of Talent] = [Prize]
aka [How Truly You Run To Win] = [Gratitude]/[Amount of Talent]
Is it clear yet?
Whatever amount of talent or ability or money you have, you just have to use it like a winner. You just need to be a excellent.
GOSH, BIANCA, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MADE ME READ THIS FAR TO TELL ME I NEED TO BE EXCELLENT — but hold on… wait for it, wait for it…
To be excellent is to be grateful.
To be grateful is to serve God, praise Him, trust Him and share His life with others.
Let me make this magnificent truth it crystal clear…
IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU HAVE, IT ONLY MATTERS HOW GRATEFUL YOU ARE FOR WHAT YOU HAVE.
So stop comparing yourself and start being grateful. Start running your race with excellent gratitude. You WILL receive your reward.
What is your reward?
Have you ever imagined being face to face with the infinite, all-powerful, mighty, astonishingly beautiful, endlessly loving, all-knowing creator of the universe, God our Father, and He is hugs you, looks you in the eye while keeping you close to Him, and says, ‘‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Father.’
There is no better reward than knowing God and being in His presence.
Everything else is irrelevant.
Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord ;)