You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (NIV)
It has been said that we have three basic things that we can give of ourselves to help others. Our time. Our talents. Our treasure. Each of these items has an inherent worth. A value in one way or another. Each of us have differing amounts of these and we can decide how best to reserve them, utilize them or share them.
Talent as inherent and treasure as external are things that we can build upon. Improve upon. I can practice or study or seek wisdom and counsel to improve upon talents. I can work harder, or longer, or switch jobs in order to build more wealth.
Time, as a more abstract concept, has a finite limitation based on how we measure it and account for it. I can alter a schedule or improve efficiency in order to gain time. I can distribute time based on priorities of my choosing.
To some extent these things WE can manipulate. WE are in control. WE have dominion over the things these words represent. They are ours!
Or are they? How did we come by these things?
Our scripture today answers this very well. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth...
All things come from our Creator, of course. God. God promises us he will provide for us and proves it over and over in scripture. Each of these things, time, talent and treasure, are gifts from God. He instills in us the talents that we have to benefit ourselves and others according to his will. He provides us with a means for gaining earthly wealth to provide for our daily cares but also to provide for daily cares here on Earth. He grants us the time to do these things in his name.
How do we use them to honor God and his will? We hone them. We don’t waste them. We share them with those in need. We become channels and not reservoirs.
In this day and age this is a hard concept for some to grasp. There is a societal urge to earn more, get more, do more. From a young age selfishness is evident. Many times the first word we hear from toddlers is ‘Mine!” As young adults moving on to our first real income jobs, that first pay check is the culmination of MY hard work. MY efforts. As we near retirement we plan for the future and horde a bit in hopes of a sense of security for those later years.
It seems this is especially true when things are going well. We tend to feel good about ourselves and our accomplishments and the things we have and can do. We tend to turn from God and forget God's role in our lives and as well as the creation of ALL things.
But when things are tough, we become acutely aware of our need for God’s presence and movement in our lives. Our prayer life increases. We may feel the need to attend worship services more regularly. We thank God for answered prayers and rejoice at the help that we received to forge through the difficult times.
Being thankful and giving thanks to God is a way that we evade pride and are able to walk humbly before God. Doing simple things such as saying grace before a meal reminds us that even the food we eat is a gift to us from God.
Giving thanks to God in both good times and bad times, not only acknowledges God’s presence, but reminds us that God is active in our lives. Consistent thanksgiving helps us cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our lives. It helps to realize that our time and talent and treasure are only ours to manage and to utilize for God's purpose on earth.
Questions for Reflection:
- In what ways has God blessed you in order to be a blessing from others?
- Are you utilizing those blessings to the fullest extent? How can you grow towards that end?
Good and gracious God, the Creator of all things. Thank you for the gifts you have bestowed to me. Thank you for the gifts of earthly wealth, earthly time and earthly talent. Help me to utilize them to honor you and be a blessing to others just as you have been a blessing to me. In Christ we pray. Amen.