For most of my life I was taught that talents were gifts of abilities and had nothing to do with financial gifts.
Sometimes people can teach things that are sincere but sincerely wrong. The word translated as talents as discussed in Matthew 25 is clearly defined as money.
If you have any doubt about the accuracy of what I’m saying… consider Matthew 25:16 in the New English Translation Bible:
“The one who had received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more.”
Next, take a look at Matthew 25:18-19 also in the New English Translation Bible which says:
“But the one who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money in it.”
I realize some people might say, “Well, yes but you’re just quoting those new-fangled translations. What does the King James Version say?”
Glad you asked.
Matthew 25:18 in the King James Version says:
“But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.”
He hid his Lord’s what. . .oh, yes. . .MONEY.
Growing up. . .I saw illustrations in church with a fifty-cent piece or a silver talent representing a talent. . . yet that’s far from the truth.
In Jesus’ day, a talent referred to a large sum of money. According to the commentary found in the Dakes Bible one talent equaled roughly $29,000.
One other commentary said that one talent equaled about two year’s wages.
In the account of the talents found in Luke 19, the scripture refers to pounds…the Greek word mina is equal to 100 drachma or $17,000, so ten of them would have been $170,000. Regardless of any commentary, it represents a lot of money.
I know unequivocally that talents are money and have proved it scripturally.
However, in addition to that introductory teaching to set a few misunderstandings straight… tonight we are going to share with you “7 Practical Ways To Maximize Your Talents or Abilities.
I learned years ago what Dr. Morris Cerullo pointed out … that all truth is parallel, in the spiritual and the natural. It’s God’s way of helping us understand His principles.
#1 Use The Ability You've Got.
President Theodore Roosevelt said:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
You should always start where you are. . .with what you’ve got. . .at the moment.
First, you must know that you have the God-given ability to perform at a level you never previously thought possible.
Romans 12:6 in The Living Bible says:
“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well….”
This empowerment is a gift from the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 1:14 in The Living Bible says:
“Guard well the splendid, God-given ability you received as a gift from the Holy Spirit who lives within you.”
Second, according to Matthew 25:14 each of the three servants were given talents “according to their several ability.”
What you have at the moment is what you can handle. . .but I believe, and more importantly God knows, you can handle more with a little more understanding.
Remember, start with what you have. . .where you are. . .and make the best of it.
Third, you may not have the educational and/or vocational training required for the next position or job you desire. However, don’t complain about what you don’t have, use what you do have. Create a plan to get from where you are to where you want to be.
If you’re in sales and you have been transferred to a region or location (i.e., store) where the sales potential seems limited. . .then make the very best of that situation.
Let me share the story of two shoe salesman sent to Africa to open up a new territory.
“The first shoe salesman boarded the plane and headed into his new territory unsure what to expect, but hopeful that this venture would be a success. His plane safely arrived in Africa and the shoe salesman immediately began his assessment of his new wide-open market. It was less than an hour of the shoe salesman’s arrival to Africa when he quickly phoned back to his headquarters and requested the first flight out and back to the states, explaining to his boss “I can’t sell shoes here! Nobody wears them, everyone is barefoot!”
The second shoe salesman hopped on the plane anxious to see what awaited him in Africa. He expected a challenge but was optimistic about this new opportunity. After a safe landing the shoe salesman grabbed his bags and quickly became thrilled at what he observed. The shoe salesman quickly dialed up his headquarters and demanded to speak to his boss, he said “I can’t believe what I’m seeing, send me an assortment of ten thousand pairs of shoes immediately! Everyone is barefoot over here!”
Your perception determines your reality.
In sales, it’s important to understand that not every customer will buy . . . so create a follow-up system that allows you to thank people for stopping by. . .let them know you’re ready to answer any questions they might have. . .and you will stand ready to get them the best deal possible.
One final point, as you begin making progress on your journey. . .you will soon discover that you can achieve much more than you first thought yourself capable of achieving.
2 Corinthians 8:3-4 in the New International Version says:
“For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.”
Once you start using what you’ve got. . .where you are. . .you will discover an amazing fact. You’re able to do and accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
I want you to write down this next statement. . .word for word.
Once I start using what I’ve got. . .where I’m at. . .I will discover an amazing fact. I’m able to do and accomplish more than I ever thought possible.
#2 What Are You Doing When The Boss Isn’t Looking?
Two of the three servants in the parable of the talents did what was necessary to earn interest and double the talents they were given.
The third servant buried his talent. . .and went fishing every day until his boss returned. He was not working. . .or doing anything to prove himself an effective steward of the talents or abilities he was given.
How many employees go to work every day and do the absolute minimum . . . just enough to keep them from getting fired? Yet, they wonder why they never receive promotions. . .and attribute their lack of advancement to the prejudice of their supervisor or boss.
It’s always somebody else’s fault. . .not their own. Yet, the reality is. . .their failure to be promoted is simply because of what they didn’t do when the boss wasn’t looking.
Here’s a powerful scriptural truth for the work place, marketplace and every place you live.
Ecclesiastes 12:14 in God’s News Translation says:
“God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret.”
If you’ve agreed to work for a company and purposely don’t give them your best efforts. . .you are planning evil.
Psalm 64:5-6 in The Living Bible says:
“They encourage each other to do evil. They meet in secret to set their traps. "He will never notice them here," they say. They keep a sharp lookout for opportunities of crime. They spend long hours with all their endless evil thoughts and plans.”
One other thought. . .as a spouse. . .it’s important what you do while you’re away from your wife/husband. I’m not talking about the obvious sins of adultery or other illicit behavior.
I’m talking about doing little things that bless your spouse.
For instance, my fine wife Bev likes to have the bed made every day. My mindset (used to be) why bother. . .we’re just going to sleep in it again tonight.
Over the years, I’ve learned that a made bed is a sign of order to my wife. . .so even when she’s out of town. . .I make the bed every morning. It’s a way of my honoring her.
Proverbs 27:18 in the Message Bible says:
“If you care for your orchard, you'll enjoy its fruit; if you honor your boss, you'll be honored.”
And yes, when she comes home from a trip. . .things are well in the kingdom because the desires of the Queen have been honored and that makes the King one happy dude.
One last question. . .why do you think the Master in Matthew 25 gave the three servants talents and then left? It was a test. . .he wanted to see what they would do if he wasn’t around.
How do you perform on the job. . .when your boss or supervisor is not around to see what you do?
#3 Maximizing Opportunities. . .Is A Decision.
The first two servants in Matthew 25 DECIDED to maximize the opportunities they were given. Whereas, the third servant didn’t.
There are defining moments in our careers and lives. . .where we are given, take or seize the opportunity to change our destiny.
I believe the first two servants were very happy to be given the opportunity to prove themselves to their Master. They seized the moment and the opportunity they had been given.
Galatians 6:10 in the New International Version says:
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Ephesians 5:15-16 in the New International Version says:
“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Colossians 4:5-6 in the New International Version says:
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.”
As unbelievable as it may sound, there are some people who sleep away their God-given opportunities whether in a bed or a cubicle.
Proverbs 10:5 in The Living Bible says:
“A wise youth makes hay while the sun shines, but what a shame to see a lad who sleeps away his hour of opportunity.”
A little different take on Ephesians 5:15-17 is found in The Living Bible which says:
“So be careful how you act; these are difficult days. Don't be fools; be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good.”
Francis Bacon, the English philosopher, scientist, statesman, lawyer and author said:
“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”
What opportunities are you maximizing TODAY?
#4 Pursue Every Opportunity With Excellence.
The first two servants were determined to make their Master proud and to exhibit a spirit of excellence in what they did.
God is looking for excellence in effort. If we are called or asked to do something, even though it may seem like a meaningless task, we should pursue it as vigorously as something we deem important.
Matthew 5:16 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ ”
1 Corinthians 4:20 in the Amplified Bible says:
“For the kingdom of God consists of and is based on not talk but power (moral power and excellence of soul).”
Excellence is one of the character traits that as believers we’re to vigorously pursue.
2 Peter 1:5 in the Amplified Bible says:
“For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence).”
Let’s look at 2 Peter 1:5 in the New Living Translation:
“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge.”
Here are three quotes about excellence that I feel should be a part of your thought process and included in your mental hard drive even if they didn’t come from scripture.
“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” Unknown
“Excellence is in the details. Give attention to the details and excellence will come.” Perry Paxton, author
“Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer.” Rick Pitino, basketball coach
#5 Never Compare Your Situation Or Opportunity With That Of Others.
Nowhere in Matthew 25 do we read where the servant who got two talents complained why he didn’t get five talents like the first servant.
The second servant was happy with what he got. . .and proved himself worthy of the trust he was given. . .by doubling it for the Master.
Do you compare yourself with others. . .fellow employees and/or friends. . .and complain when they receive something you didn’t. . .opportunity or otherwise?
There is a teaching on the website entitled “7 Reasons Not To Compare Yourself With Others.” Visit our website www.debtfreearmy.org and search by title.
Galatians 6:4-5 in God’s WORD Translation says:
“Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. Assume your own responsibility.”
The Amplified Bible translation of Galatians 6:4 says:
“But let every person carefully scrutinize and examine and test his own conduct and his own work. . .”
This means you are accountable for your actions. . .what you do or don’t do. How you act and react. What you say and don’t say. You can’t blame anybody else for your actions. You’re the master of your own ship. . .the creator of your own destiny. . .and you’re to continually inspect what you’re doing and how it lines up with His word.
When you know that you’ve done the best job possible. . .then is no need to compare yourself to anybody else.
Galatians 6:4 in the New Living Translation says:
“Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”
You will never succeed in life by comparing yourself to others or complaining about why someone else was given something you weren’t. Actually, it’s a sin to covet what your neighbor has.
If you spend as much time honing your skill set as you do talking about others and what they got or didn’t get. . .you will soon find. . .the others are talking about you and what you got.
#6 Don't Bury Your Opportunities.
The third servant must have been a negative person.
We see some descriptions of his character that show he was lazy, made excuses, questioned the authority as being upright, was afraid and failed to do what he was asked therefore, he failed to increase what he was given. . .and ignored the talent he was given by burying it.
Matthew 25:18 in the Amplified Bible says:
“But he who had received the one talent went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.”
You’re probably saying to yourself right about now that you would never have buried the Master’s talent.
Before we let go of that thought . . . perhaps we should really think it through.
If God has given you the ability to write meaningful words. . .have you written blogs or books. . .if not, you’ve buried that talent.
If God has given you the ability to lead and you’re not leading. . .then you’re burying your talent.
If God has given you the ability to teach His Word and you’re not teaching. . .then you’ve buried your talent.
If God has given you money and you have nothing to show for it other than huge debts. . .then you’ve buried your talent.
I could go on. . .but the real point is simply this. . .if you’ve been burying your talents. . .STOP IT. . .RIGHT NOW!
Whether God has given you a talent or talents. . .it’s time for you to use what you’ve got. . .right where you’re at.
Ephesians 3:7 in the Message Bible says:
“This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.”
Your gifts, abilities and talent (money) are from God. . .what you do with it (them) is your gift to Him.
1 Corinthians 12:11 in the Message Bible says:
“All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses.”
What are you doing with what you’ve got?
#7 How To Get The Promotion . . . With Benefits.
All three servants were given a test. . .two of them passed and were blessed with increased benefits.
The third servant failed the test and literally went to hell for it. Not trying to offend your sensitivities . . .but that’s exactly where the scripture says he ended up.
Someone once defined hell as the day the person you became meets the person you could have become.
Sadly, like the third servant there are way too many believers who are placing limitations in their lives.
I’ve often said that the only limitations you face in life are those that are self-inflicted, self-induced, self-maintaining, self-sustaining and, of course, self-defeating.
Mark 9:23 in the God’s Word Translation:
“Jesus said to him, “As far as possibilities go, everything is possible for the person who believes.”
This scripture just ignites my faith and stirs by spirit to new levels of expectation. . “. . .everything is possible for the person [that’s me!; that’s you!] who believes.”
There is no limitation to our manifestation. The Message Bible translation of Mark 9:23 says:
“Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen."
All things are possible . . .anything . . . no matter how illogical to the natural mind . . . can happen in our lives. . .as we exercise our faith and believe.
The scripture also says there is nothing impossible to those who believe.
Luke 1:37 in the Amplified Bible says:
“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”
The same one who promotes you is also the One who gave you abilities and gifts.
Psalm 75:6-7 in the Amplified Bible says:
"For not from the east nor from the west nor from the south come promotion and lifting up. But God is the Judge! He puts down one and lifts up another.”
Not only does your promotion come from God. . .but EVERYTHING you have and EVERYTHING you are comes from Him.
What are you doing with what you’ve got?
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