“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it (greed) laid away in a piece of cloth. 21 I was afraid (fear) of you, because you are a hard man (ignorance). You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’ Luke 19:20-21 NIV
Why Bury Your Talent? – This week I read a business book on investing. I don’t normally expect to find God speaking in such literature so I was amazed to find this sentence, “Fear, ignorance and greed are very destructive emotions that all traders need to conquer. These little demons wreak havoc on our decisions from time to time.”
Two of the servants invested their talents, got a return, and were rewarded by the Lord. We do see Christians multiply their talents (both financially and otherwise). As a pastor, I was amazed at how many Christians underperformed in the marketplace relative to their talents. It was, and is, common for believers to have no goals or vision for their work or ministry outside the church. There is a reason some stay in poverty and others learn to multiply. It has to do with the way we relate to God. Fear, ignorance, and greed that keep people bound in poverty can be reversed to Courage, Wisdom, and Generosity. Here’s how.
From fear to boldness – Fear is a self-centered cowardice that tries to preserve what we already have by maintaining the status quo. That’s why it feels like “frozen with fear.” Soldiers, investors, and Christians hide from conflict for the same reason – they don’t want to get hurt. After Saul was chosen by God and anointed by Samuel (1Sam 9-10) it is time to make him King. However, he couldn’t be found because he was hiding under the suitcases!
So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 1 Sam 10:22 NIV
Fear gradually turns to passion, courage and then boldness when we see a cause larger than our own life. That’s the logic that causes us to “love” something other than ourselves and overcome the fear of taking bold steps. Perfect love casts out fear (1Jn 4:18). Heroic soldiers don’t risk their lives for their country; they step into heroic acts trying to protect their friends in the fight. We’ll take bold steps to the extent that we’re in love with something larger than self. You may have heard the saying, “You have nothing to live for until you’ve found something to die for.” We resurrect when our heart’s desire intersects with what the Father is doing in the Kingdom. That’s when our desires become bigger than our lives. It’s a pretty exciting way to live.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24
The servant hid his talent because he was afraid of the master. That fear was rooted in ignorance about the nature of God – bad theology.
From ignorance to wisdom – The servant was afraid because his master was a “hard man.” That’s the emotion fearful Christians often attribute to God… immobilized by the fear of making a mistake and facing a “hard God.” This particular “ignorance” has deep theological roots in our concept of God’s sovereignty. God isn’t trying to kill His people; He’s trying to lead them into life and life more abundantly.
The servant accused him of reaping where he did not sow. This view is not refuted, but used as a justification to judge the servant! Here’s the reality; God does reap where he didn’t sow. That’s why you and I are here – to sow seeds, to take initiatives, to make investments and start businesses. God does multiply and bless his people; but not if they won’t step out of the boat. Poverty hides behind a belief that God himself is going to “sovereignly” take the next step. That’s a lie – God is waiting for you to take the next step and He’s expecting you to use wisdom to make it a good one.
Note: I know that last sentence is a strong statement. Here’s how you can confirm it personally. Ask the Lord in prayer, “Lord, are you waiting for me or am I waiting for you?” Try it and see what He says.
Wisdom in scripture is connected with the fear of God (a Kingdom perspective to “do” the right thing) and wealth (one of the results of doing the right thing). When we love enough to connect with our heart’s desire and take action, we start the process of multiplication. Finances, divine appointments, and anointing flow toward us via the blessing of God. We love God, we love people, we put the Kingdom first, we multiply finances and convert money into ministry. God designed it to be fun. Wealthy people are doing what they (and God) love to do – that’s the dynamic that multiplies in the Kingdom.
From greed to generosity – We use Scrooge to categorize people with wealth as greedy. I want to suggest that is largely a lie too. Greed is more often the companion of poverty. I’m continually amazed at how generous wealthy people are. Here’s the point we miss. Wealthy people have already tapped significant wisdom and generosity or they wouldn’t be wealthy. Wealth is built over time through integrity, hard work, persistence, and generosity – all things God puts His favor on. Does God play favorites? Of course he does! He loves it when His people overcome fear, make wise decisions, and get out of the boat. He called the servant that buried his talent wicked and gave his talent to one of the others. If we bury our talent… or calling, God just moves on to someone else who is willing to say yes. Once we decide to start saying yes, opportunities multiply and God works through us in even greater ways.
For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Matt 13:12 NASU
Beyond generosity to missions – True generosity goes beyond giving money; it doesn’t just give fish, it makes fishermen. There is a “missions” ingredient in this character quality that reaches out to others to pull them into the abundance of God’s favor. This missions mindset teaches people how to prosper in every area of their lives through coaching and mentoring. Our job is to, 1) find people that have buried their talent, 2) help them dig it up, and 3) teach them to sow so they can multiply and reap a harvest. That’s the definition of work, business and investing, but when God multiplies it, if feels more like “fun.” It feels like being a King and co-laboring with Christ to build the Kingdom.
…and it feels so good to shed poverty once and for all. Be courageous and wise and use your Kingly stature to share the gospel and Release more Kings.