The Small Things

Some people have five talents.  They have all the skill, all the charisma, all the opportunities.  It seems as though service in Jesus’ kingdom comes naturally to them.  We are not surprised to hear when they have done great things in His name.  We expect it out of five-talent people

Some people have two talents.  They are not as privileged as the five-talent people, obviously.  But we still admire them.  They get the most out of what they have.  They do not envy the five-talent people for their success and the glory that comes with success.  They just do their job and do it well.  Sometimes they even wake up to find they have become five-talent people themselves.  And good for them.  Good for us.

And then there are those with only one talent.  Their participation in the kingdom is severely limited — perhaps by age, perhaps by health, perhaps by other circumstances beyond their control.  The problem with one-talent people is discouragement.  They see their prospects as being limited, especially in comparison with the five– and two-talent ones.  They think that their single talent could not possibly make that much of a difference — especially since they have no confidence in themselves that they can utilize even that one talent effectively.  So they bury their talent, and their head, in the sand.

The master in the parable of Matthew 25:14-30 showed no sympathy for the one-talent man.  His excuse-making fell on deaf ears.  He acknowledges the enormity of the task he had placed on his servants, including the one-talent man.  But that should have been a motivation to act, not to fail to act.  “Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest,” he said (Matthew 25:27).  That’s a part of the parable I have glossed over in times past, but I look at it today as an illustration of how God’s servants can grasp success from the jaws of failure — by delegating their opportunities to someone else.

I want to be clear: We each have individual responsibilities in the kingdom, and there are many duties we are not permitted to delegate.  And everyone, regardless of how many “talents” he or she possesses, has the opportunity to serve personally, dutifully, and faithfully.  That said, it may be that circumstances make it inconvenient or even near-impossible for an individual Christian to carry out his responsibilities personally.

That’s where the bankers come in.  It very well may be possible that I, struggling with personal obstacles and hardships, can empower someone else to do the work in the kingdom that I otherwise would be glad to do.  I may not consider myself a “personal evangelist,” but I can increase my contribution to the local church so the work can continue and spread.  I may not be the best at greeting visitors, but I can send them a greeting by mail afterward to tell them how much we appreciated their time and attention to the things of God.  I may not know enough about the Bible to initiate a Bible study, but I can refer them to the preacher, the elders, or other Christians who can pick up where I left off.  I may not get out in the community much to shine the light of Jesus, but I can shine it through social media.

Again, this is not license for someone to absolve themselves of the need to grow (2 Peter 3:18).  I would argue that virtually everyone in the body of Christ can do the simple things mentioned above, and more besides.  This is to emphasize, there is no excuse for inaction! 

We often sing a song, “Room in God’s Kingdom.”  It begins with the line, “There is room in the kingdom of God, my brother, for the small things that you can do.”  And that is true.  I know it is true because the words came from Jesus’ own teaching.  Matthew 10:42 reads, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”  That may seem like a general call for benevolence on the surface, but the context reveals it to be something quite different.  He is emphasizing the trials that will overtake the one who chooses to follow Jesus — the need to prefer Him over family, and over life itself (Matthew 10:34-39).  The recipient of the “cup of cold water” is one of these diligent servants who has given his or her all for the cause of Christ.  And the “whoever in the name of a disciple” who give him or her the water is one of these so-called “one-talent” Christians.  They may not be in position to do much, but still they are proud to wear the name of Jesus and do whatever they can in His service.  Trust me — as the recipient of more than a handful of these cups of water over the years, that sort of service goes a long way.

There are “small things” that are done in the service of their brethren and their Lord.  But the ones who do them are not small.  Never forget that.