“And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability...” Matthew 25:15
I have read the parable of the talents many times and have also heard many sermons on theses particular scriptures, but this morning I saw the above verse in a new light and felt the intense desire to dig into further scriptures to see what God had to reveal to me in them. In particular, the words “according to his own ability” really stood out to me and made me wonder, “Why does God not make us all equal in our ability? And, why are some held more or less accountable than others?”
There of course are many scriptural texts that talk about the gifts God gives to those who believe in Him and whom have been gifted by the inner-workings of the Holy Spirit. Here are just a few that came to mind to make note of this morning as they also relate to the broader topic of ability and accountability:
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8
“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
In Romans 12 we learn that our spiritual gifts are given “according to the grace that is given to us” which I realize has to have direct correlation also with the ability given to us by God as reference in Matthew 25:15. Also, in 1 Peter we learn that through the ability of our gifts, as we are supplied by God, our purpose in using them is to glorify Jesus Christ – that is our end on the accountability part of this spiritual arrangement.
As I dug even deeper with some cross-referencing, I came upon a verse in Romans 11 that completely took me by surprise – because in all my years of studying the bible and reading through it cover to cover I had never really “seen” this verse.
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
What Romans 11:29 is stating, is that once God decides on the gifts He has chosen to grace us with, along with our related ability and accountability, He does not change His mind about His gift. I have to think that since God is perfect, this is just a confirmation that there is no mistake in how God has designed, gifted, and held each person on this earth accountable from within the context that He has deemed them worthy to be accountable.
I think my oldest son would retort to what I just said above with most favorite phrase, “That's not fair!” But then it makes me recall a conversation I had with my two sons on the way home from youth group on Wednesday night – we were talking about their individual school work loads and about how I teach each of them (actually all three of my children) differently according to their skill sets and abilities. Of course my oldest chimed in and said that he thought my approach was unfair until he realized that his workload, which he considered the hardest (of course being the oldest he is ahead of the other two and he always seems to have more work assigned to him) was nothing close in relative comparison to all the additional subjects his younger sister was required to study - ones that I had never asked him to learn at the same age. At first my son came back with the response, “But that's because she is Maggie.” (Yes my boys know Maggie is very gifted and also 2 grade levels ahead of her age and at times they dismiss her enthusiasm for learning because it comes so easy to her.) But then he realized how what he said had contradicted what he had said and was in agreement with the reasoning I had just explained. (He usually gets this way when he sees how I have to usually take things a bit slower with his younger brother than I do with him.)
In the same way as God gifts us to our abilities and then holds us accountable to use the talents/gifts given us, so too do I teach my children in manners that hone their gifts and hold them accountable for learning to use their gifts with wisdom and astuteness. That may not seem equal or fair, but in the long run the methods by which I go about teaching each of my children and distinguishing each of them as individuals, not as just some cookie cutter product of my home school educational program, will allow them to understand who God made them uniquely to be and how they can be most useful in the work God will set before them in their futures.
Yes, life is really not “fair” when you understand the scriptures I laid out before you this morning. But then again who ever said it was? I think fairness is another lie that the enemy would like us all to strive for because in seeking fairness we lose sight of the wonderful ability for us to complement each other and show the watching world how the Holy Spirit can bring peace and harmony through so many diversely gifted parts.
As you go forward today with the Lord, do not look around trying to compare what God has given to you with what He has given to another. Be mindful that what you have been given was the most perfectly suited gift for you. You can't return it because God did not make a mistake and He is not even willing to take it back for a trade in. Instead rejoice in what you have been given and live your life in pursuit of finding out how God desires for you to use what He has given you so that you too can bring glory to Jesus Christ through your life.