Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 25: Talents
Based on Matt. 25:13-30
Christ on the Mount of Olives had spoken to His
disciples of His second advent to the world. He had
specified certain signs that were to show when His coming
was near, and had bidden His disciples watch and be ready.
Again He repeated the warning, "Watch therefore; for ye
know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man
cometh." Then He showed what it means to watch for
His coming. The time is to be spent, not in idle waiting,
but in diligent working. This lesson He taught in the
parable of the talents.
|Giving Account.—Davis Collection.|
"The kingdom of heaven," He said, "is as a man
traveling into a far country, who called his own servants,
and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he
gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to
every man according to his several ability; and straightway
took his journey."
The man traveling into a far country represents Christ, [p. 326] who, when speaking this parable, was soon to depart from
this earth to heaven. The "bondservants" (R.V.), or
slaves, of the parable, represent the followers of Christ.
We are not our own. We have been "bought with a price"
(1 Cor. 6:20), not "with corruptible things, as silver and
gold, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter
1:18, 19); "that they which live should not henceforth live
unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and
rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15).
All men have been bought with this infinite price. By
pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by
giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the
will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human
being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the
Lord's property. All are called to do service for Him,
and for the manner in which they have met this claim, all
will be required to render an account at the great judgment
But the claims of God are not recognized by all. It is
those who profess to have accepted Christ's service who in
the parable are represented as His own servants.
Christ's followers have been redeemed for service. Our
Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ
Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives
the law of service—service to God and to their fellow men.
Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception
of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for
others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The
law of service becomes the connecting link which binds
us to God and to our fellow men.
To His servants Christ commits "His goods"—something
to be put to use for Him. He gives "to every man
his work." Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven.
Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation [p. 327] of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us
in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated
on earth where we are to work for God.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit
The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent
especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy
Spirit. "To one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to
another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of
healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of
miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of
spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the
interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and
the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He
will." 1 Cor. 12:8-11. All men do not receive the same
gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the
Spirit is promised.
Before He left His disciples, Christ "breathed on them,
and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." John
20:22. Again He said, "Behold, I send the promise of My
Father upon you." Luke 24:29. But not until after the
ascension was the gift received in its fullness. Not until
through faith and prayer the disciples had surrendered
themselves fully for His working was the outpouring of
the Spirit received. Then in a special sense the goods
of heaven were committed to the followers of Christ.
"When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive,
and gave gifts unto men." Eph. 4:8, 7. "Unto every one of
us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of
Christ," the Spirit "dividing to every man severally as He
will." 1 Cor. 12:11. The gifts are already ours in Christ,
but their actual possession depends upon our reception of
the Spirit of God. [p. 328]
The promise of the Spirit is not appreciated as it should
be. Its fulfillment is not realized as it might be. It is the
absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so
powerless. Learning, talents, eloquence, every natural or
acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the
presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched,
no sinner be won to Christ. On the other hand, if they
are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are
theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of His disciples will
have a power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them
the channel for the outworking of the highest influence in
The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents
represented in the parable. It includes all gifts and endowments,
whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual.
All are to be employed in Christ's service. In becoming
His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that
we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and
ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellow
To every man God has given "according to his several
ability." The talents are not apportioned capriciously. He
who has ability to use five talents receives five. He who
can improve but two, receives two. He who can wisely use
only one, receives one. None need lament that they have
not received larger gifts; for He who has apportioned to
every man is equally honored by the improvement of each
trust, whether it be great or small. The one to whom five
talents have been committed is to render the improvement
of five; he who has but one, the improvement of one. God
expects returns "according to that a man hath, and not
according to that he hath not." 2 Cor. 8:12. [p. 329]
In the parable he that had "received the five talents went
and traded with the same, and made them other five talents;
and likewise he that had received two, he also gained
The talents, however few, are to be put to use. The
question that most concerns us is not, How much have I
received? but, What am I doing with that which I have?
The development of all our powers is the first duty we owe to
God and to our fellow men. No one who is not growing
daily in capability and usefulness is fulfilling the purpose [p. 330] of life. In making a profession of faith in Christ we pledge
ourselves to become all that it is possible for us to be
as workers for the Master, and we should cultivate every
faculty to the highest degree of perfection, that we may do
the greatest amount of good of which we are capable.
The Lord has a great work to be done, and He will
bequeath the most in the future life to those who do the
most faithful, willing service in the present life. The Lord
chooses His own agents, and each day under different
circumstances He gives them a trial in His plan of operation.
In each true-hearted endeavor to work out His plan,
He chooses His agents not because they are perfect but
because, through a connection with Him, they may gain
God will accept only those who are determined to aim
high. He places every human agent under obligation to
do his best. Moral perfection is required of all. Never
should we lower the standard of righteousness in order to
accommodate inherited or cultivated tendencies to
wrong-doing. We need to understand that imperfection of
character is sin. All righteous attributes of character dwell
in God as a perfect, harmonious whole, and every one
who receives Christ as a personal Saviour is privileged
to possess these attributes.
And those who would be workers together with God
must strive for perfection of every organ of the body and
quality of the mind. True education is the preparation
of the physical, mental, and moral powers for the performance
of every duty; it is the training of body, mind, and
soul for divine service. This is the education that will
endure unto eternal life.
Of every Christian the Lord requires growth in
efficiency and capability in every line. Christ has paid us
our wages, even His own blood and suffering, to secure [p. 331] our willing service. He came to our world to give us an
example of how we should work, and what spirit we should
bring into our labor. He desires us to study how we can
best advance His work and glorify His name in the world,
crowning with honor, with the greatest love and devotion,
the Father who "so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
But Christ has given us no assurance that to attain
perfection of character is an easy matter. A noble,
all-round character is not inherited. It does not come to us by
accident. A noble character is earned by individual effort
through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the
talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It
is formed by hard, stern battles with self. Conflict after
conflict must be waged against hereditary tendencies. We
shall have to criticize ourselves closely, and allow not one
unfavorable trait to remain uncorrected.
Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character.
If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of
obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your
own will. If you will not, then you can not overcome.
The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an
unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the
control of God.
Many whom God has qualified to do excellent work
accomplish very little, because they attempt little. Thousands
pass through life as if they had no definite object for
which to live, no standard to reach. Such will obtain a
reward proportionate to their works.
Remember that you will never reach a higher standard
than you yourself set. Then set your mark high, and
step by step, even though it be by painful effort, by
self-denial and sacrifice, ascend the whole length of the ladder [p. 332] of progress. Let nothing hinder you. Fate has not woven
its meshes about any human being so firmly that he need
remain helpless and in uncertainty. Opposing circumstances
should create a firm determination to overcome them. The
breaking down of one barrier will give greater ability and
courage to go forward. Press with determination in the
right direction, and circumstances will be your helpers, not
Be ambitious, for the Master's glory, to cultivate every
grace of character. In every phase of your character
building you are to please God. This you may do; for
Enoch pleased Him though living in a degenerate age.
And there are Enochs in this our day.
Stand like Daniel, that faithful statesman, a man whom
no temptation could corrupt. Do not disappoint Him who
so loved you that He gave His own life to cancel your sins.
He says, "Without Me ye can do nothing." John 15:5.
Remember this. If you have made mistakes, you certainly
gain a victory if you see these mistakes and regard them as
beacons of warning. Thus you turn defeat into victory,
disappointing the enemy and honoring your Redeemer.
A character formed according to the divine likeness is
the only treasure that we can take from this world to the
next. Those who are under the instruction of Christ in this
world will take every divine attainment with them to the
heavenly mansions. And in heaven we are continually
to improve. How important, then, is the development of
character in this life.
The heavenly intelligences will work with the human
agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of
character which will reach out to perfection in action. To
everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your
right hand to help you. [p. 333]
As the will of man co-operates with the will of God,
it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His
command may be accomplished in His strength. All His
biddings are enablings.
God requires the training of the mental faculties. He
designs that His servants shall possess more intelligence
and clearer discernment than the worldling, and He is
displeased with those who are too careless or too indolent
to become efficient, well-informed workers. The Lord bids
us love Him with all the heart, and with all the soul,
and with all the strength, and with all the mind. This
lays upon us the obligation of developing the intellect to
its fullest capacity, that with all the mind we may know
and love our Creator.
If placed under the control of His Spirit, the more
thoroughly the intellect is cultivated, the more effectively
it can be used in the service of God. The uneducated
man who is consecrated to God and who longs to bless
others can be, and is, used by the Lord in His service.
But those who, with the same spirit of consecration,
have had the benefit of a thorough education, can do
a much more extensive work for Christ. They stand on
The Lord desires us to obtain all the education
possible, with the object in view of imparting our knowledge
to others. None can know where or how they may be
called to labor or to speak for God. Our heavenly Father
alone sees what He can make of men. There are before us
possibilities which our feeble faith does not discern. Our
minds should be so trained that if necessary we can present
the truths of His word before the highest earthly authorities [p. 334] in such a way as to glorify His name. We should not let
slip even one opportunity of qualifying ourselves intellectually
to work for God.
Let the youth who need an education set to work with
a determination to obtain it. Do not wait for an opening;
make one for yourselves. Take hold in any small way
that presents itself. Practice economy. Do not spend
your means for the gratification of appetite, or in pleasure
seeking. Be determined to become as useful and efficient as
God calls you to be. Be thorough and faithful in whatever
you undertake. Procure every advantage within your reach
for strengthening the intellect. Let the study of books be
combined with useful manual labor, and by faithful
endeavor, watchfulness, and prayer secure the wisdom that is
from above. This will give you an all-round education.
Thus you may rise in character, and gain an influence over
other minds, enabling you to lead them in the path of
uprightness and holiness.
Far more might be accomplished in the work of
self-education if we were awake to our own opportunities and
privileges. True education means more than the colleges
can give. While the study of the sciences is not to be
neglected, there is a higher training to be obtained through
a vital connection with God. Let every student take his
Bible and place himself in communion with the great
Teacher. Let the mind be trained and disciplined to
wrestle with hard problems in the search for divine truth.
Those who hunger for knowledge that they may bless
their fellow men will themselves receive blessing from God.
Through the study of His word their mental powers will
be aroused to earnest activity. There will be an expansion
and development of the faculties, and the mind will acquire
power and efficiency. [p. 335]
Self-discipline must be practiced by everyone who
would be a worker for God. This will accomplish more
than eloquence or the most brilliant talents. An ordinary
mind, well disciplined, will accomplish more and higher
work than will the most highly educated mind and the
greatest talents without self-control.
The power of speech is a talent that should be diligently
cultivated. Of all the gifts we have received from God,
none is capable of being a greater blessing than this.
With the voice we convince and persuade, with it we offer
prayer and praise to God, and with it we tell others of the
Redeemer's love. How important, then, that it be so trained
as to be most effective for good.
The culture and right use of the voice are greatly
neglected, even by persons of intelligence and Christian
activity. There are many who read or speak in so low or
so rapid a manner that they cannot be readily understood.
Some have a thick, indistinct utterance; others speak in a
high key, in sharp, shrill tones, that are painful to the
hearers. Texts, hymns, and the reports and other papers
presented before public assemblies are sometimes read in
such a way that they are not understood and often so that
their force and impressiveness are destroyed.
This is an evil that can and should be corrected. On
this point the Bible gives instruction. Of the Levites who
read the Scriptures to the people in the days of Ezra, it is
said, "They read in the book in the law of God distinctly,
and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the
reading." Neh. 8:8.
By diligent effort all may acquire the power to read
intelligibly, and to speak in a full, clear, round tone, in a [p. 336] distinct and impressive manner. By doing this we may
greatly increase our efficiency as workers for Christ.
Every Christian is called to make known to others the
unsearchable riches of Christ; therefore he should seek for
perfection in speech. He should present the word of God
in a way that will commend it to the hearers. God does
not design that His human channels shall be uncouth. It
is not His will that man shall belittle or degrade the
heavenly current that flows through him to the world.
We should look to Jesus, the perfect pattern; we should
pray for the aid of the Holy Spirit, and in His strength we
should seek to train every organ for perfect work.
Especially is this true of those who are called to public
service. Every minister and every teacher should bear in
mind that he is giving to the people a message that involves
eternal interests. The truth spoken will judge them in the
great day of final reckoning. And with some souls the
manner of the one delivering the message will determine
its reception or rejection. Then let the word be so spoken
that it will appeal to the understanding and impress the
heart. Slowly, distinctly, and solemnly should it be spoken,
yet with all the earnestness which its importance demands.
The right culture and use of the power of speech has to
do with every line of Christian work; it enters into the
home life, and into all our intercourse with one another.
We should accustom ourselves to speak in pleasant tones, to
use pure and correct language, and words that are kind and
courteous. Sweet, kind words are as dew and gentle
showers to the soul. The Scripture says of Christ that
grace was poured into His lips that He might "know how
to speak a word in season to him that is weary." Ps. 45:2;
Isa. 50:4. And the Lord bids us, "Let your speech be
alway with grace" (Col. 4:6) "that it may minister grace
unto the hearers" (Eph. 4:29). [p. 337]
In seeking to correct or reform others we should be
careful of our words. They will be a savor of life unto life
or of death unto death. In giving reproof or counsel,
many indulge in sharp, severe speech, words not adapted
to heal the wounded soul. By these ill-advised expressions
the spirit is chafed, and often the erring ones are stirred to
rebellion. All who would advocate the principles of truth
need to receive the heavenly oil of love. Under all
circumstances reproof should be spoken in love. Then our words
will reform but not exasperate. Christ by His Holy Spirit
will supply the force and the power. This is His work.
Not one word is to be spoken unadvisedly. No evil
speaking, no frivolous talk, no fretful repining or impure
suggestion, will escape the lips of him who is following
Christ. The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit,
says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your
mouth." Eph. 4:29. A corrupt communication does not
mean only words that are vile. It means any expression
contrary to holy principles and pure and undefiled religion.
It includes impure hints and covert insinuations of evil.
Unless instantly resisted, these lead to great sin.
Upon every family, upon every individual Christian, is
laid the duty of barring the way against corrupt speech.
When in the company of those who indulge in foolish talk,
it is our duty to change the subject of conversation if
possible. By the help of the grace of God we should quietly
drop words or introduce a subject that will turn the
conversation into a profitable channel.
It is the work of parents to train their children to proper
habits of speech. The very best school for this culture is
the home life. From the earliest years the children should
be taught to speak respectfully and lovingly to their parents
and to one another. They should be taught that only words [p. 338] of gentleness, truth, and purity must pass their lips. Let the
parents themselves be daily learners in the school of Christ.
Then by precept and example they can teach their children
the use of "sound speech, that cannot be condemned."
Titus 2:8. This is one of the greatest and most responsible
of their duties.
As followers of Christ we should make our words such
as to be a help and an encouragement to one another in the
Christian life. Far more than we do, we need to speak of
the precious chapters in our experience. We should speak
of the mercy and loving-kindness of God, of the matchless
depths of the Saviour's love. Our words should be words
of praise and thanksgiving. If the mind and heart are full
of the love of God, this will be revealed in the conversation.
It will not be a difficult matter to impart that which enters
into our spiritual life. Great thoughts, noble aspirations,
clear perceptions of truth, unselfish purposes, yearnings for
piety and holiness, will bear fruit in words that reveal the
character of the heart treasure. When Christ is thus
revealed in our speech, it will have power in winning souls
We should speak of Christ to those who know Him not.
We should do as Christ did. Wherever He was, in the
synagogue, by the wayside, in the boat thrust out a little
from the land, at the Pharisee's feast or the table of the
publican, He spoke to men of the things pertaining to the
higher life. The things of nature, the events of daily life,
were bound up by Him with the words of truth. The
hearts of His hearers were drawn to Him; for He had
healed their sick, had comforted their sorrowing ones,
and had taken their children in His arms and blessed them.
When He opened His lips to speak, their attention was
riveted upon Him, and every word was to some soul a
savor of life unto life. [p. 339]
So it should be with us. Wherever we are, we should
watch for opportunities of speaking to others of the
Saviour. If we follow Christ's example in doing good, hearts
will open to us as they did to Him. Not abruptly, but with
tact born of divine love, we can tell them of Him who is
the "Chiefest among ten thousand" and the One "altogether
lovely." Cant. 5:10, 16. This is the very highest work in
which we can employ the talent of speech. It was given
to us that we might present Christ as the sin-pardoning
The life of Christ was an ever-widening, shoreless
influence, an influence that bound Him to God and to the
whole human family. Through Christ, God has invested
man with an influence that makes it impossible for him to
live to himself. Individually we are connected with our
fellow men, a part of God's great whole, and we stand
under mutual obligations. No man can be independent of
his fellow men; for the well-being of each affects others.
It is God's purpose that each shall feel himself necessary to
others' welfare, and seek to promote their happiness.
Every soul is surrounded by an atmosphere of it own—
an atmosphere, it may be, charged with the life-giving
power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the
fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and chill with the gloom
of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly
taint of cherished sin. By the atmosphere surrounding
us, every person with whom we come in contact is
consciously or unconsciously affected.
This is a responsibility from which we cannot free
ourselves. Our words, our acts, our dress, our deportment,
even the expression of the countenance, has an influence. [p. 340] Upon the impression thus made there hang results for good
or evil which no man can measure. Every impulse thus
imparted is seed sown which will produce its harvest. It
is a link in the long chain of human events, extending
we know not whither. If by our example we aid others in
the development of good principles, we give them power
to do good. In their turn they exert the same influence
upon others, and they upon still others. Thus by our
unconscious influence thousands may be blessed.
Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed,
and another and another; and as they increase, the circle
widens, until it reaches the very shore. So with our
influence. Beyond our knowledge or control it tells upon
others in blessing or in cursing.
Character is power. The silent witness of a true,
unselfish, godly life carries an almost irresistible influence.
By revealing in our own life the character of Christ we
co-operate with Him in the work of saving souls. It is
only by revealing in our life His character that we can
co-operate with Him. And the wider the sphere of our
influence, the more good we may do. When those who
profess to serve God follow Christ's example, practicing
the principles of the law in their daily life; when every act
bears witness that they love God supremely and their
neighbor as themselves, then will the church have power
to move the world.
But never should it be forgotten that influence is no
less a power for evil. To lose one's own soul is a terrible
thing; but to cause the loss of other souls is still more
terrible. That our influence should be a savor of death
unto death is a fearful thought; yet this is possible. Many
who profess to gather with Christ are scattering from Him.
This is why the church is so weak. Many indulge freely [p. 341] in criticism and accusing. By giving expression to suspicion,
jealousy, and discontent, they yield themselves as
instruments to Satan. Before they realize what they are
doing, the adversary has through them accomplished his
purpose. The impression of evil has been made, the
shadow has been cast, the arrows of Satan have found their
mark. Distrust, unbelief, and downright infidelity have
fastened upon those who otherwise might have accepted
Christ. Meanwhile the workers for Satan look complacently
upon those whom they have driven to skepticism,
and who are now hardened against reproof and entreaty.
They flatter themselves that in comparison with these souls
they are virtuous and righteous. They do not realize that
these sad wrecks of character are the work of their own
unbridled tongues and rebellious hearts. It is through their
influence that these tempted ones have fallen.
So frivolity, selfish indulgence, and careless indifference
on the part of professed Christians are turning away
many souls from the path of life. Many there are who
will fear to meet at the bar of God the results of their
It is only through the grace of God that we can make
a right use of this endowment. There is nothing in us of
ourselves by which we can influence others for good. If
we realize our helplessness and our need of divine power,
we shall not trust to ourselves. We know not what results
a day, an hour, or a moment may determine, and never
should we begin the day without committing our ways to
our heavenly Father. His angels are appointed to watch
over us, and if we put ourselves under their guardianship,
then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand.
When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong
influence, the angels will be by our side, prompting us to a [p. 342] better course, choosing our words for us, and influencing
our actions. Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious,
but mighty power in drawing others to Christ and
the heavenly world.
Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and
we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to
His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a
more strict account than of our time.
The value of time is beyond computation. Christ
regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we
should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We
have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for
eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to
selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now
that we are to form characters for the future, immortal life.
It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment.
The human family have scarcely begun to live when
they begin to die, and the world's incessant labor ends in
nothingness unless a true knowledge in regard to eternal
life is gained. The man who appreciates time as his working
day will fit himself for a mansion and for a life that is
immortal. It is well that he was born.
We are admonished to redeem the time. But time
squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back
even one moment. The only way in which we can redeem
our time is by making the most of that which remains, by
being co-workers with God in His great plan of redemption.
In him who does this, a transformation of character
takes place. He becomes a son of God, a member of the
royal family, a child of the heavenly King. He is fitted
to be the companion of the angels. [p. 343]
Now is our time to labor for the salvation of our
fellow men. There are some who think that if they give
money to the cause of Christ, this is all they are required
to do; the precious time in which they might do personal
service for Him passes unimproved. But it is the privilege
and duty of all who have health and strength to render to
God active service. All are to labor in winning souls to
Christ. Donations of money cannot take the place of this.
Every moment is freighted with eternal consequences.
We are to stand as minute men, ready for service at a
moment's notice. The opportunity that is now ours to
speak to some needy soul the word of life may never offer
again. God may say to that one, "This night thy soul
shall be required of thee," and through our neglect he
may not be ready. (Luke 12:20.) In the great judgment
day, how shall we render our account to God?
Life is too solemn to be absorbed in temporal and earthly
matters, in a treadmill of care and anxiety for the things
that are but an atom in comparison with the things of
eternal interest. Yet God has called us to serve Him in
the temporal affairs of life. Diligence in this work is as
much a part of true religion as is devotion. The Bible
gives no indorsement to idleness. It is the greatest curse
that afflicts our world. Every man and woman who is
truly converted will be a diligent worker.
Upon the right improvement of our time depends our
success in acquiring knowledge and mental culture. The
cultivation of the intellect need not be prevented by poverty,
humble origin, or unfavorable surroundings. Only let the
moments be treasured. A few moments here and a few
there, that might be frittered away in aimless talk; the
morning hours so often wasted in bed; the time spent in
traveling on trams or railway cars, or waiting at the [p. 344] station; the moments of waiting for meals, waiting for those
who are tardy in keeping an appointment—if a book were
kept at hand, and these fragments of time were improved in
study, reading, or careful thought, what might not be
accomplished. A resolute purpose, persistent industry, and
careful economy of time, will enable men to acquire knowledge
and mental discipline which will qualify them for almost
any position of influence and usefulness.
It is the duty of every Christian to acquire habits of
order, thoroughness, and dispatch. There is no excuse for
slow bungling at work of any character. When one is
always at work and the work is never done, it is because
mind and heart are not put into the labor. The one who
is slow and who works at a disadvantage should realize
that these are faults to be corrected. He needs to exercise
his mind in planning how to use the time so as to secure
the best results. By tact and method, some will accomplish
as much in five hours as others do in ten. Some who
are engaged in domestic labor are always at work not
because they have so much to do but because they do not
plan so as to save time. By their slow, dilatory ways they
make much work out of very little. But all who will, may
overcome these fussy, lingering habits. In their work let
them have a definite aim. Decide how long a time is
required for a given task, and then bend every effort toward
accomplishing the work in the given time. The exercise
of the will power will make the hands move deftly.
Through lack of determination to take themselves in
hand and reform, persons can become stereotyped in a
wrong course of action; or by cultivating their powers
they may acquire ability to do the very best of service. Then
they will find themselves in demand anywhere and
everywhere. They will be appreciated for all that they are worth. [p. 345]
By many children and youth, time is wasted that might
be spent in carrying home burdens, and thus showing a
loving interest in father and mother. The youth might take
upon their strong young shoulders many responsibilities
which someone must bear.
The life of Christ from His earliest years was a life of
earnest activity. He lived not to please Himself. He was
the Son of the infinite God, yet He worked at the carpenter's
trade with His father Joseph. His trade was
significant. He had come into the world as the character
builder, and as such all His work was perfect. Into all
His secular labor He brought the same perfection as into
the characters He was transforming by His divine power.
He is our pattern.
Parents should teach their children the value and right
use of time. Teach them that to do something which
will honor God and bless humanity is worth striving for.
Even in their early years they can be missionaries for God.
Parents cannot commit a greater sin than to allow
their children to have nothing to do. The children soon
learn to love idleness, and they grow up shiftless, useless
men and women. When they are old enough to earn their
living, and find employment, they work in a lazy, droning
way, yet expect to be paid as much as if they were faithful.
There is a world-wide difference between this class of
workers and those who realize that they must be faithful
Indolent, careless habits indulged in secular work will
be brought into the religious life and will unfit one to do
any efficient service for God. Many who through diligent
labor might have been a blessing to the world, have been
ruined through idleness. Lack of employment and of
steadfast purpose opens the door to a thousand temptations.
Evil companions and vicious habits deprave mind and soul,
and the result is ruin for this life and for the life to come. [p. 346]
Whatever the line of work in which we engage, the
word of God teaches us to be "not slothful in business;
fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." "Whatsoever thy
hand findeth to do, do it with thy might," "knowing that of
the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance;
for ye serve the Lord Christ." Rom. 12:11; Eccl. 9:10;
Health is a blessing of which few appreciate the value;
yet upon it the efficiency of our mental and physical powers
largely depends. Our impulses and passions have their
seat in the body, and it must be kept in the best condition
physically and under the most spiritual influences in order
that our talents may be put to the highest use.
Anything that lessens physical strength enfeebles the
mind and makes it less capable of discriminating between
right and wrong. We become less capable of choosing the
good and have less strength of will to do that which we
know to be right.
The misuse of our physical powers shortens the period
of time in which our lives can be used for the glory of
God. And it unfits us to accomplish the work God has
given us to do. By allowing ourselves to form wrong
habits, by keeping late hours, by gratifying appetite at the
expense of health, we lay the foundation for feebleness. By
neglecting physical exercise, by overworking mind or body,
we unbalance the nervous system. Those who thus shorten
their lives and unfit themselves for service by disregarding
nature's laws, are guilty of robbery toward God. And they
are robbing their fellow men also. The opportunity of
blessing others, the very work for which God sent them
into the world, has by their own course of action been cut
short. And they have unfitted themselves to do even that [p. 347] which in a briefer period of time they might have
accomplished. The Lord holds us guilty when by our injurious
habits we thus deprive the world of good.
Transgression of physical law is transgression of the
moral law; for God is as truly the author of physical laws
as He is the author of the moral law. His law is written [p. 348] with His own finger upon every nerve, every muscle, every
faculty, which has been entrusted to man. And every
misuse of any part of our organism is a violation of that
All should have an intelligent knowledge of the human
frame that they may keep their bodies in the condition
necessary to do the work of the Lord. The physical life
is to be carefully preserved and developed that through
humanity the divine nature may be revealed in its fullness.
The relation of the physical organism to the spiritual life
is one of the most important branches of education. It
should receive careful attention in the home and in the
school. All need to become acquainted with their physical
structure and the laws that control natural life. He who
remains in willing ignorance of the laws of his physical
being and who violates them through ignorance is sinning
against God. All should place themselves in the best
possible relation to life and health. Our habits should be
brought under the control of a mind that is itself under the
control of God.
"Know ye not," says the apostle Paul, "that your body
is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye
have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are
bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor. 6:19, 20.
We are to love God, not only with all the heart, mind,
and soul, but with all the strength. This covers the full,
intelligent use of the physical powers.
Christ was a true worker in temporal as well as
in spiritual things, and into all His work He brought a
determination to do His Father's will. The things of
heaven and earth are more closely connected and are more
directly under the supervision of Christ than many realize. [p. 349] It was Christ who planned the arrangement for the first
earthly tabernacle. He gave every specification in regard
to the building of Solomon's temple. The One who in His
earthly life worked as a carpenter in the village of Nazareth
was the heavenly architect who marked out the plan for
the sacred building where His name was to be honored.
It was Christ who gave to the builders of the tabernacle
wisdom to execute the most skillful and beautiful
workmanship. He said, "See, I have called by name Bezaleel
the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and
I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in
understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of
workmanship. . . . And I, behold, I have given with him
Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in
the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom,
that they may make all that I have commanded thee." Ex.
God desires that His workers in every line shall look
to Him as the Giver of all they possess. All right inventions
and improvements have their source in Him who is
wonderful in counsel and excellent in working. The skillful
touch of the physician's hand, his power over nerve and
muscle, his knowledge of the delicate organism of the body,
is the wisdom of divine power, to be used in behalf of the
suffering. The skill with which the carpenter uses the
hammer, the strength with which the blacksmith makes the
anvil ring, comes from God. He has entrusted men with
talents, and He expects them to look to Him for counsel.
Whatever we do, in whatever department of the work we
are placed, He desires to control our minds that we may
do perfect work.
Religion and business are not two separate things; they
are one. Bible religion is to be interwoven with all we do
or say. Divine and human agencies are to combine in [p. 350] temporal as well as in spiritual achievements. They are to
be united in all human pursuits, in mechanical and agricultural
labors, in mercantile and scientific enterprises. There
must be co-operation in everything embraced in Christian
God has proclaimed the principles on which alone this
co-operation is possible. His glory must be the motive of
all who are laborers together with Him. All our work is to
be done from love of God and in accordance with His will.
It is just as essential to do the will of God when erecting
a building as when taking part in a religious service. And
if the workers have brought the right principles into their
own character making, then in the erection of every building
they will grow in grace and knowledge.
But God will not accept the greatest talents or the most
splendid service unless self is laid upon the altar, a living,
consuming sacrifice. The root must be holy, else there can
be no fruit acceptable to God.
The Lord made Daniel and Joseph shrewd managers.
He could work through them because they did not live to
please their own inclination but to please God.
The case of Daniel has a lesson for us. It reveals the
fact that a businessman is not necessarily a sharp, policy
man. He can be instructed by God at every step. Daniel,
while prime minister of the kingdom of Babylon, was a
prophet of God, receiving the light of heavenly inspiration.
Worldly, ambitious statesmen are represented in the word
of God as the grass that groweth up and as the flower
of the grass that fadeth. Yet the Lord desires to have in
His service intelligent men, men qualified for various lines
of work. There is need of businessmen who will weave
the grand principles of truth into all their transactions.
And their talents should be perfected by most thorough
study and training. If men in any line of work need to [p. 351] improve their opportunities to become wise and efficient,
it is those who are using their ability in building up the
kingdom of God in our world. Of Daniel we learn that in
all his business transactions, when subjected to the closest
scrutiny, not one fault or error could be found. He was
a sample of what every businessman may be. His history
shows what may be accomplished by one who consecrates
the strength of brain and bone and muscle, of heart and
life, to the service of God.
God also entrusts men with means. He gives them
power to get wealth. He waters the earth with the dews
of heaven and with the showers of refreshing rain. He
gives the sunlight, which warms the earth, awakening to
life the things of nature and causing them to flourish and
bear fruit. And He asks for a return of His own.
Our money has not been given us that we might honor
and glorify ourselves. As faithful stewards we are to use
it for the honor and glory of God. Some think that only
a portion of their means is the Lord's. When they have
set apart a portion for religious and charitable purposes,
they regard the remainder as their own, to be used as they
see fit. But in this they mistake. All we possess is the
Lord's, and we are accountable to Him for the use we make
of it. In the use of every penny, it will be seen whether we
love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves.
Money has great value, because it can do great good.
In the hands of God's children it is food for the hungry,
drink for the thirsty, and clothing for the naked. It is a
defense for the oppressed, and a means of help to the sick.
But money is of no more value than sand, only as it is put
to use in providing for the necessities of life, in blessing
others, and advancing the cause of Christ. [p. 352]
Hoarded wealth is not merely useless, it is a curse. In
this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections
away from the heavenly treasure. In the great day of God
its witness to unused talents and neglected opportunities
will condemn its possessor. The Scripture says, "Go to
now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that
shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your
garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered;
and the rust of them shall bear witness against you, and
shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure
together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers
who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept
back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have
reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth."
But Christ sanctions no lavish or careless use of means.
His lesson in economy, "Gather up the fragments that
remain, that nothing be lost," is for all His followers.
(John 6:12.) He who realizes that his money is a talent
from God will use it economically, and will feel it a duty
to save that he may give.
The more means we expend in display and self-indulgence,
the less we can have to feed the hungry and clothe
the naked. Every penny used unnecessarily deprives the
spender of a precious opportunity of doing good. It is
robbing God of the honor and glory which should flow back
to Him through the improvement of His entrusted talents.
Kindly Impulses and Affections
Kindly affections, generous impulses, and a quick
apprehension of spiritual things are precious talents, and lay
their possessor under a weighty responsibility. All are to
be used in God's service. But here many err. Satisfied
with the possession of these qualities, they fail to bring [p. 353] them into active service for others. They flatter themselves
that if they had opportunity, if circumstances were
favorable, they would do a great and good work. But they
are awaiting the opportunity. They despise the narrowness
of the poor niggard who grudges even a pittance to the
needy. They see that he is living for self, and that he is
responsible for his misused talents. With much complacency
they draw the contrast between themselves and such
narrow-minded ones, feeling that their own condition is
much more favorable than that of their mean-souled neighbors.
But they are deceiving themselves. The mere
possession of unused qualities only increases their responsibility.
Those who possess large affections are under obligation
to God to bestow them, not merely on their friends,
but on all who need their help. Social advantages are
talents, and are to be used for the benefit of all within
reach of our influence. The love that gives kindness to only
a few is not love, but selfishness. It will not in any way
work for the good of souls or the glory of God. Those who
thus leave their Master's talents unimproved are even more
guilty than are the ones for whom they feel such contempt.
To them it will be said, Ye knew your Master's will,
but did it not.
Talents Multiplied by Use
Talents used are talents multiplied. Success is not the
result of chance or of destiny; it is the outworking of God's
own providence, the reward of faith and discretion, of
virtue and persevering effort. The Lord desires us to use
every gift we have; and if we do this, we shall have greater
gifts to use. He does not supernaturally endow us with
the qualifications we lack; but while we use that which
we have, He will work with us to increase and strengthen [p. 354] every faculty. By every wholehearted, earnest sacrifice
for the Master's service our powers will increase. While
we yield ourselves as instruments for the Holy Spirit's
working, the grace of God works in us to deny old inclinations,
to overcome powerful propensities, and to form new
habits. As we cherish and obey the promptings of the
Spirit, our hearts are enlarged to receive more and more
of His power, and to do more and better work. Dormant
energies are aroused, and palsied faculties receive new life.
The humble worker who obediently responds to the call
of God may be sure of receiving divine assistance. To
accept so great and holy a responsibility is itself elevating
to the character. It calls into action the highest mental
and spiritual powers, and strengthens and purifies the mind
and heart. Through faith in the power of God, it is
wonderful how strong a weak man may become, how decided
his efforts, how prolific of great results. He who begins
with a little knowledge, in a humble way, and tells what
he knows, while seeking diligently for further knowledge,
will find the whole heavenly treasure awaiting his demand.
The more he seeks to impart light, the more light he will
receive. The more one tries to explain the word of God
to others, with a love for souls, the plainer it becomes to
himself. The more we use our knowledge and exercise our
powers, the more knowledge and power we shall have.
Every effort made for Christ will react in blessing upon
ourselves. If we use our means for His glory, He will give
us more. As we seek to win others to Christ, bearing the
burden of souls in our prayers, our own hearts will throb
with the quickening influence of God's grace; our own
affections will glow with more divine fervor; our whole
Christian life will be more of a reality, more earnest, more
The value of man is estimated in heaven according to [p. 355] the capacity of the heart to know God. This knowledge
is the spring from which flows all power. God created
man that every faculty might be the faculty of the divine
mind; and He is ever seeking to bring the human mind
into association with the divine. He offers us the privilege
of co-operation with Christ in revealing His grace to the
world, that we may receive increased knowledge of heavenly
Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct
views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness,
love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct.
We develop a character which is the counterpart of the
divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our
capacity for knowing God. More and more we enter into
fellowship with the heavenly world, and we have continually
increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and
wisdom of eternity.
The One Talent
The man who received the one talent "went and digged
in the earth, and hid his lord's money."
It was the one with the smallest gift who left his talent
unimproved. In this is given a warning to all who feel
that the smallness of their endowments excuses them from
service for Christ. If they could do some great thing, how
gladly would they undertake it; but because they can serve
only in little things, they think themselves justified in doing
nothing. In this they err. The Lord in His distribution
of gifts is testing character. The man who neglected to
improve his talent proved himself an unfaithful servant.
Had he received five talents, he would have buried them
as he buried the one. His misuse of the one talent showed
that he despised the gifts of heaven. [p. 356]
"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful
also in much." Luke 16:10. The importance of the little
things is often underrated because they are small; but they
supply much of the actual discipline of life. There are
really no nonessentials in the Christian's life. Our character
building will be full of peril while we underrate the
importance of the little things.
"He that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."
By unfaithfulness in even the smallest duties, man robs his
Maker of the service which is His due. This unfaithfulness
reacts upon himself. He fails of gaining the grace,
the power, the force of character, which may be received
through an unreserved surrender to God. Living apart
from Christ he is subject to Satan's temptations, and he
makes mistakes in his work for the Master. Because he is
not guided by right principles in little things, he fails
to obey God in the great matters which he regards as his
special work. The defects cherished in dealing with life's
minor details pass into more important affairs. He acts on
the principles to which he has accustomed himself. Thus
actions repeated form habits, habits form character, and by
the character our destiny for time and for eternity is
Only by faithfulness in the little things can the soul be
trained to act with fidelity under larger responsibilities.
God brought Daniel and his fellows into connection with
the great men of Babylon, that these heathen men might
become acquainted with the principles of true religion. In
the midst of a nation of idolaters, Daniel was to represent
the character of God. How did he become fitted for a position
of so great trust and honor? It was his faithfulness
in the little things that gave complexion to his whole life.
He honored God in the smallest duties, and the Lord
co-operated with him. To Daniel and his companions God [p. 357] gave "knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; and
Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams."
As God called Daniel to witness for Him in Babylon,
so He calls us to be His witnesses in the world today. In
the smallest as well as the largest affairs of life He desires
us to reveal to men the principles of His kingdom.
Christ in His life on earth taught the lesson of careful
attention to the little things. The great work of redemption
weighed continually upon His soul. As He was teaching
and healing, all the energies of mind and body were
taxed to the utmost; yet He noticed the most simple things
in life and in nature. His most instructive lessons were
those in which by the simple things of nature He [p. 358] illustrated the great truths of the kingdom of God. He did
not overlook the necessities of the humblest of His servants.
His ear heard every cry of need. He was awake to the
touch of the afflicted woman in the crowd; the very slightest
touch of faith brought a response. When He raised from
the dead the daughter of Jairus, He reminded her parents
that she must have something to eat. When by His own
mighty power He rose from the tomb, He did not disdain
to fold and put carefully in the proper place the
graveclothes in which He had been laid away.
The work to which as Christians we are called is to
co-operate with Christ for the salvation of souls. This
work we have entered into covenant with Him to do. To
neglect the work is to prove disloyal to Christ. But in
order to accomplish this work we must follow His example
of faithful, conscientious attention to the little things. This
is the secret of success in every line of Christian effort
The Lord desires His people to reach the highest round
of the ladder that they may glorify Him by possessing the
ability He is willing to bestow. Through the grace of God
every provision has been made for us to reveal that we act
upon better plans than those upon which the world acts.
We are to show a superiority in intellect, in understanding,
in skill and knowledge, because we believe in God and in
His power to work upon human hearts.
But those who have not a large endowment of gifts
need not become discouraged. Let them use what they
have, faithfully guarding every weak point in their
characters, seeking by divine grace to make it strong. Into
every action of life we are to weave faithfulness and loyalty,
cultivating the attributes that will enable us to accomplish
Habits of negligence should be resolutely overcome. [p. 359] Many think it a sufficient excuse for the grossest errors to
plead forgetfulness. But do they not, as well as others,
possess intellectual faculties? Then they should discipline
their minds to be retentive. It is a sin to forget, a sin to
be negligent. If you form a habit of negligence, you may
neglect your own soul's salvation and at last find that you
are unready for the kingdom of God.
Great truths must be brought into little things.
Practical religion is to be carried into the lowly duties of
daily life. The greatest qualification for any man is to obey
implicitly the word of the Lord.
Because they are not connected with some directly
religious work, many feel that their lives are useless; that
they are doing nothing for the advancement of God's
kingdom. But this is a mistake. If their work is that
which someone must do, they should not accuse themselves
of uselessness in the great household of God. The humblest
duties are not to be ignored. Any honest work is a blessing,
and faithfulness in it may prove a training for higher trusts.
However lowly, any work done for God with a full
surrender of self is as acceptable to Him as the highest
service. No offering is small that is given with
true-heartedness and gladness of soul.
Wherever we may be, Christ bids us take up the duty
that presents itself. If this is in the home, take hold
willingly and earnestly to make home a pleasant place. If you
are a mother, train your children for Christ. This is as
verily a work for God as is that of the minister in the
pulpit. If your duty is in the kitchen, seek to be a perfect
cook. Prepare food that will be healthful, nourishing, and
appetizing. And as you employ the best ingredients in
preparing food remember that you are to give your mind
the best thoughts. If it is your work to till the soil or to
engage in any other trade or occupation, make a success [p. 360] of the present duty. Put your mind on what you are doing.
In all your work represent Christ. Do as He would do in
However small your talent, God has a place for it.
That one talent, wisely used, will accomplish its appointed
work. By faithfulness in little duties, we are to work on
the plan of addition, and God will work for us on the plan
of multiplication. These littles will become the most
precious influences in His work.
Let a living faith run like threads of gold through the
performance of even the smallest duties. Then all the daily
work will promote Christian growth. There will be a
continual looking unto Jesus. Love for Him will give vital
force to everything that is undertaken. Thus through the
right use of our talents, we may link ourselves by a golden
chain to the higher world. This is true sanctification; for
sanctification consists in the cheerful performance of daily
duties in perfect obedience to the will of God.
But many Christians are waiting for some great work to
be brought to them. Because they cannot find a place large
enough to satisfy their ambition, they fail to perform
faithfully the common duties of life. These seem to them
uninteresting. Day by day they let slip opportunities for
showing their faithfulness to God. While they are waiting
for some great work, life passes away, its purposes
unfulfilled, its work unaccomplished.
The Talents Returned
"After a long time the lord of those servants cometh,
and reckoneth with them." When the Lord takes account
of His servants, the return from every talent will be
scrutinized. The work done reveals the character of the worker.
Those who have received the five and the two talents
return to the Lord the entrusted gifts with their increase. [p. 361] In doing this they claim no merit for themselves. Their
talents are those that have been delivered to them; they
have gained other talents, but there could have been no gain
without the deposit. They see that they have done only
their duty. The capital was the Lord's; the improvement
in His. Had not the Saviour bestowed upon them His love
and grace, they would have been bankrupt for eternity.
But when the Master receives the talents, He approves
and rewards the workers as though the merit were all their
own. His countenance is full of joy and satisfaction. He
is filled with delight that He can bestow blessings upon
them. For every service and every sacrifice He requites
them, not because it is a debt He owes, but because His
heart is overflowing with love and tenderness.
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant," He says;
"thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee
ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
It is the faithfulness, the loyalty to God, the loving
service, that wins the divine approval. Every impulse of
the Holy Spirit leading men to goodness and to God, is
noted in the books of heaven, and in the day of God the
workers through whom He has wrought will be commended.
They will enter into the joy of the Lord as they see in
His kingdom those who have been redeemed through their
instrumentality. And they are privileged to participate in
His work there, because they have gained a fitness for it
by participation in His work here. What we shall be in
heaven is the reflection of what we are now in character
and holy service. Christ said of Himself, "The Son of man
came not to be ministered unto, but to minister." Matt.
20:28. This, His work on earth, is His work in heaven.
And our reward for working with Christ in this world is
the greater power and wider privilege of working with
Him in the world to come. [p. 362]
"Then he which had received the one talent came and
said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping
where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast
not strewed; and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent
in the earth; lo, there thou hast that is thine."
Thus men excuse their neglect of God's gifts. They
look upon God as severe and tyrannical, as watching to spy
out their mistakes and visit them with judgments. They
charge Him with demanding what He has never given, with
reaping where He has not sown.
There are many who in their hearts charge God with
being a hard master because He claims their possessions
and their service. But we can bring to God nothing that
is not already His. "All things come of Thee," said King
David; "and of Thine own have we given Thee." I Chron.
29:14. All things are God's, not only by creation, but by
redemption. All the blessings of this life and of the life to
come are delivered to us stamped with the cross of Calvary.
Therefore the charge that God is a hard master, reaping
where He has not sown, is false.
The master does not deny the charge of the wicked
servant, unjust as it is; but taking him on his own ground
he shows that his conduct is without excuse. Ways and
means had been provided whereby the talent might have
been improved to the owner's profit. "Thou oughtest," he
said, "to have put my money to the exchangers, and then
at my coming I should have received mine own with usury."
Our heavenly Father requires no more nor less than
He has given us ability to do. He lays upon His servants
no burdens that they are not able to bear. "He knoweth
our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." Ps. 103:14.
All that He claims from us we through divine grace can
"Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much [p. 363] required." Luke 12:48. We shall individually be held
responsible for doing one jot less than we have ability to
do. The Lord measures with exactness every possibility for
service. The unused capabilities are as much brought into
account as are those that are improved. For all that we
might become through the right use of our talents God
holds us responsible. We shall be judged according to what
we ought to have done, but did not accomplish because we
did not use our powers to glorify God. Even if we do not
lose our souls, we shall realize in eternity the result of
our unused talents. For all the knowledge and ability that
we might have gained and did not, there will be an eternal
But when we give ourselves wholly to God and in our
work follow His directions, He makes Himself responsible
for its accomplishment. He would not have us conjecture
as to the success of our honest endeavors. Not once
should we even think of failure. We are to co-operate
with One who knows no failure.
We should not talk of our own weakness and inability.
This is a manifest distrust of God, a denial of His word.
When we murmur because of our burdens, or refuse the
responsibilities He calls upon us to bear, we are virtually
saying that He is a hard master, that He requires what He
has not given us power to do.
The spirit of the slothful servant we are often fain to
call humility. But true humility is widely different. To be
clothed with humility does not mean that we are to be
dwarfs in intellect, deficient in aspiration, and cowardly in
our lives, shunning burdens lest we fail to carry them
successfully. Real humility fulfills God's purposes by
depending upon His strength.
God works by whom He will. He sometimes selects
the humblest instrument to do the greatest work, for His [p. 364] power is revealed through the weakness of men. We have
our standard, and by it we pronounce one thing great and
another small; but God does not estimate according to our
rule. We are not to suppose that what is great to us must
be great to God, or that what is small to us must be small
to Him. It does not rest with us to pass judgment on our
talents or to choose our work. We are to take up the
burdens that God appoints, bearing them for His sake,
and ever going to Him for rest. Whatever our work, God
is honored by wholehearted, cheerful service. He is
pleased when we take up our duties with gratitude, rejoicing
that we are accounted worthy to be co-laborers with
The Talent Removed
Upon the slothful servant the sentence was, "Take
therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which
hath ten talents." Here, as in the reward of the faithful
worker, is indicated not merely the reward at the final
judgment but the gradual process of retribution in this life.
As in the natural, so in the spiritual world: every power
unused will weaken and decay. Activity is the law of life;
idleness is death. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given
to every man to profit withal." 1 Cor. 12:7. Employed to
bless others, his gifts increase. Shut up to self-serving
they diminish, and are finally withdrawn. He who refuses
to impart that which he has received will at last find that
he has nothing to give. He is consenting to a process that
surely dwarfs and finally destroys the faculties of the soul.
Let none suppose that they can live a life of selfishness,
and then, having served their own interests, enter into the
joy of their Lord. In the joy of unselfish love they could
not participate. They would not be fitted for the heavenly [p. 365] courts. They could not appreciate the pure atmosphere of
love that pervades heaven. The voices of the angels and
the music of their harps would not satisfy them. To their
minds the science of heaven would be as an enigma.
In the great judgment day those who have not worked
for Christ, those who have drifted along, carrying no
responsibility, thinking of themselves, pleasing themselves,
will be placed by the Judge of all the earth with those
who did evil. They receive the same condemnation.
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copy of this enlightening book about the parables of Christ.
Many who profess to be Christians neglect the claims of
God, and yet they do not feel that in this there is any wrong.
They know that the blasphemer, the murderer, the adulterer,
deserves punishment; but as for them, they enjoy the
services of religion. They love to hear the gospel preached,
and therefore they think themselves Christians. Though
they have spent their lives in caring for themselves, they
will be as much surprised as was the unfaithful servant in
the parable to hear the sentence, "Take the talent from
him." Like the Jews, they mistake the enjoyment of their
blessings for the use they should make of them.
Many who excuse themselves from Christian effort
plead their inability for the work. But did God make them
so incapable? No, never. This inability has been produced
by their own inactivity and perpetuated by their deliberate
choice. Already, in their own characters, they are realizing
the result of the sentence, "Take the talent from him."
The continual misuse of their talents will effectually quench
for them the Holy Spirit, which is the only light. The
sentence, "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness,"
sets Heaven's seal to the choice which they
themselves have made for eternity.
Click here to read the next chapter:
"Friends by the Mammon of Unrighteousness"