What is love? We’re supposed to walk in love, in the midst of it, like warm boots in the deep, wet snow. Love is comfort and security in new places. It is the armor that keeps us firm in places that look like chaos. Love is amazing. It disarms anger, it calms fear it remains true when others fail. It casts hope where hope looks dead.
How far will we let love and compassion take us when we follow Christ? Is there an end of the road on our walk with Christ, where Jesus keeps walking and, even though we feel a tug on our heart, we say, “No, sorry Jesus, that’s not my gift. I’m not ready for that. Find someone else.” What do you call a “follower” at that point- a stopper? Stoppers lead to clogged drains in the ministry flow. This isn’t a guilt trip to move you to do any one particular thing, it’s a reminder that we need to take that step in faith, not matter what the task is. Followers continue to follow, even when it looks like they are not able, or not equipped or utterly helpless. When a follower is helpless in their own strength, they then have to look to the one who they are following and trust that when they don’t know the answer, He will. They rely on God’s power and not their own. (You do know that I’m preaching to myself here, don’t you?)
In the parable of the talents, Jesus makes an example of three servants who received different amounts of talent. In the story, the talents were money, but they represent any gift God has given us. We sometimes begin with a night volunteering, an encouraging card, a few dollars, or maybe God reminds us of a need when we notice that coffee is on sale. Those little thoughts are the parable coming alive through the Holy Spirit. If we are faithful in these small things, according to the parable, we receive more. The more could be so many things, new gifts, talents, money or openings in your time.
When you use THOSE wisely, God says, “Hey! Here’s someone I can work with and trust with what I’ve given.” He opens the storehouse of gifts and talents again. The hardest part of the story is the part that has caused me to repent of many times. It’s when Jesus goes back to the one who just kept his talent hidden because he was afraid do anything with it that we must pay attention. We hear so much about grace and mercy, we often just think we can just go on and expect continued blessings even when we’re disobedient. The kingdom really doesn’t operate that way. When the servant hid his little talent, Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, I understand, it’s ok. I’ll just give you more anyway.” He said exactly this, “You wicked and slothful servant!…Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:14-30
You see. Love costs something. It’s a valuable gift. People die every day. Love moves beyond noticing that someone looks a little down. It looks past anger. It looks into a bad day and cares about why. Love sits down next to that person and asks why. When love sits down and hears a hard story, it asks God what talent he has that may be used in this situation. It could be finding an answer, sharing wisdom or praying. When love doesn’t know what to do, it calls on the one with five or ten talents to come in to the picture and show him what more experienced love can do. The point is that love never does nothing nor does it think that it can do nothing.
Sometimes it costs us time to learn how to help in deeper ways at that point and we ask, “Am I willing to make the sacrifice? This may disturb my family life. I’m not sure I’m equipped for that. I’ve never done anything like that before. Isn’t it dangerous? What if………what if…….. what if……what if”
Who’s voice is that? God’s, yours or the devil’s. Maybe these verses will help identify the source and reassure you that the only weapon we need is love.
1 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit NOT of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
The better question is this…”What if I DON’T do something.” Down at Project Warm, a winter weather amnesty shelter we spend much time at, livers are failing, families are broken, heart attacks happen, feet get frostbite, alcohol numbs pain and unforgiveness and self-hatred batter people on a daily basis – but what love and the power of God can do! Friendships blossom, people find Jesus, sharing occurs and we war for each other in the battles we face to keep the place running every night. To that, there is no limit. Prayer is moving those mountains for the ones we can reach and testimonies of His faithfulness are being repeated at devotion time. Have you heard a homeless person testify of God’s grace, provision or even physical healing in his life that week? Come and hear that too! Love will grow in your heart and faith for your own struggles.
We all start somewhere on the journey of greater love and action. I promise you that jumping into a completely new environment, we don’t all start out feeling like superman or Jesus. New environments take time to adjust to but if we persevere in love, how we see that environment changes. We get burdened, like Jesus was, to BE the help that people need. It’s not on our own strength. We have the tools Jesus left us and he directs us IF we are available to learn and seek Him – if we are willing to step out of our comfort zone. Jesus didn’t have a comfort zone. He saw what people didn’t see because they looked at the outside and not the inside. People look at the consequence of sin. Jesus healed the hurt. Every problem had a root and Jesus was a good gardener. He had a vision for every person he met. He knew who He created them to be. He will show YOU who he created the people around you to be. Ask him and you’ll love people better and see the good instead of the things that now annoy or scare you. Love brings a great response from people.
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Are you willing to use that talent you have? Want to spend it? Our God says “Nothing is impossible for those who believe.” We believe that. When compassion hits us, and our sense of injustice at someone’s condition boils our blood and stirs our heart to righteous anger, we have a God who says, “I’m in that with you. Let’s go.” At that point we humbly say, “Lord, what you do you need me to do.” Ask him that today. “Lord, what do you need me to do?”