Another school year is off and running. Sports teams are practicing, bands are preparing for ballgames and concerts, and as usual students are dreading the homework. At Central Arkansas Christian, the theme this year comes from Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I am thankful that I am beginning my eighth year of leading chapel at the elementary campus. Each morning we spend about thirty minutes singing songs of praise, reading from God’s Word, and speaking to God in prayer. Our focus is upon recognizing the mighty power of God in creation. We praise God because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. One aspect of our being created by God is that he made each person unique. That’s part of Psalm 139 as well.
In making each one of us unique, God gave us abilities and talents. His desire is that we put those talents into practice. Ultimately, the New Testament will help us to see that these God-given abilities are not intended to be used in a selfish and prideful manner. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Peter put it this way, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…” (1 Peter 4:10). And certainly we remember Jesus’ teaching regarding the three that were given talents by the master. To one was given five talents, to the second was given two talents, and to the third was given one talent. The servant who was given one talent hid it in the ground while the other two put their talents to work and doubled what was given to them. When the master returned to settle accounts with these three servants he was displeased with the one talent servant. He took away the talent from that servant and gave it to the one with ten talents.
Now, I understand this parable is referencing money, not our actual abilities. But the lesson deals with the gifts of God to his people. God, the master, gives talents to his people. And God expects his people to put those talents into practice. God, the Creator, made us. He put his image upon each of us. He showers us with blessings each day. He gives us the ability to serve in any number of ways. And he expects us to do just that. But this desire God has for us to serve is not some arbitrary activity. God is longing for his people to see the example which Jesus, God in the flesh, set for us. In John 13, Jesus, the master, took a basin of water and tied a towel around his waist, then proceeded to kneel at the feet of each of his disciples. The master became the servant. Foot washing was reserved for the servants. And Jesus humbled himself, taking the form of a servant. He washed the disciples feet. All of them. Including the feet of the one who would soon betray him. Then Jesus explains why he did this. "...Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher [Master], have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you" (John 13:12-15). Jesus set that great example for us. If the master can serve, surely we are not too good to humble ourselves. Are we?
So if the master came back today to settle accounts, how would you fair? Let’s make sure we are searching out those opportunities that God puts before us to serve others through love.