Posts tagged ‘invest’

Are You Afraid of God?

I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.  Luke 19:21

I was a sophomore in high school when Tim’s dad drove us to school early one morning. Tim was my best friend who lived next door to me. We did everything together. And usually Tim would drive us to school, but his car was in the shop. His dad drove up a ramp to take us to the back door. What he didn’t realize is that there was a staircase next to the ramp. As he drove away, Tim’s dad drive down the staircase rather than the ramp. We heard a sound of grinding metal as he got stuck on the landing halfway down the stairs. As you can imagine, this drew lots of attention in addition to taunts and laughter. I was embarrassed. I did not want anyone to know that I had anything to do with that car or Tim’s dad. As silly as it sounds to me today, I was afraid of what others would think of me. I stood just inside the school doors frozen in fear. I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to do. I watched a group of guys lift the car and move it far enough to be able to drive away.

Fear is a crazy thing. It can paralyze us and cloud our judgment. And so when we have not experienced God’s love and mercy, we can become afraid of His law and judgment. Jesus tells a story of how we can look at God the wrong way. He described three servants who were given silver by their king before he was to be crowned king in a distant empire. He entrusted them with his riches and instructed them to invest for him while he was gone. He would return one day to see what they had done with the silver. The first two servants invested well, but the third was afraid of the king. His fear caused him to hide the silver in the ground rather than invest it. He was so afraid of the king that he became paralyzed to inaction. He hid his silver. He acted as though the king did not exist and hoped for the best.

As I think about it, there is no difference between my fear of what others would think of me and the servant’s fear of his king. Both fears cause inaction. Both fears prevent loving action to invest our talents in the lives of others. There is a fear of God we are to have in our lives that is an awe of His love and mercy prompting us to action. We read of this fear in Psalm 89:6-7, For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him?

You know you have the proper fear of God when you want to be in His presence each morning rather than hiding from Him. You have the right fear of God when you move toward others to lend a helping hand. You know you fear God in a way that gives life when you can think clearly in the midst of temptation. Every time I want my own way, succumb to my own desires, and refuse to take up my cross and follow Jesus, I become afraid of God. This fear always paralyzes. It always prevents us from living freely in God’s kingdom. 

So what’s the solution? Focus on God’s love. Accept His love. Seek His love because we read in 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.

What Am I Neglecting?

“Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…” 1 Timothy 4:14

Neglect is an ugly word. It means to “fail to care for properly.” Neglect is a form of abuse. Child neglect is a crime. It is a major accusation in malpractice suits. It is unacceptable behavior in our daily relationships. And yet it is a common issue, perhaps an epidemic, among followers of Jesus when it comes to our spiritual gifts.

When I read 1 Timothy 4:14 today, I thought about how often I neglect my own spiritual gifts. And then I wondered what it looks like to really invest in those gifts. It’s easy to go through life without giving much thought, or any thought, to the the gifts God bestows upon us. We get caught up in the daily grind and the anxieties of life. We then think we deserve to relax, do nothing but what gives us pleasure. And in the process, we can go weeks, months, years, and perhaps an entire lifetime without giving serious thought to our spiritual gifts. In fact, it’s pretty easy, even common, to neglect God’s gifts to us altogether. 

Jesus told a story about 3 servants who were given bags of silver, or “talents” by a man going away on a long trip. He gave 5 bags to one, 2 bags to another, and 1 bag to the last servant. The first two servants invested their money while the last servant hid it in the ground. When the man returned, he was not happy with the last guy. Jesus applied this story to the final judgment when those who neglect their gift from God will not be living in His kingdom. This is a sobering thought, especially when we don’t seem to take this issue very seriously in the church.

And so I ask myself the question, How do I invest in my spiritual gifts? Well, I can’t invest in them if I don’t know what they are. But once I know my gifts, which for me include leadership, knowledge, and discernment, I now have the responsibility to invest in them. About nine years ago I was introduced to the concept that investing in my spiritual gifts includes more than simply using them. It was an “ah ha” moment for me. I realized that I needed to read leadership books, study God’s Word for leadership principles, and discuss leadership ideas with other leaders if I were going to invest in my gift of leadership. I realized that I needed to study God’s Word, participate in small groups, talk with people about God, spend time in prayer with God, and serve other people if I were going to invest in my gift of knowledge. I also discovered that I needed a rich devotional life when I spend time not only reading God’s Word, but listening to His voice if I were going to invest in my gift of discernment.

Do you know your spiritual gifts? Are you neglecting them? What would it look like for you to invest in the gifts God has given to you? 

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