There is a story in Matthew about a man who gives bags of silver to his servants and asks them to watch over the money while he goes on a trip. One servant gets five bags of silver, one servant two bags, and one servant one bag. The first two servants invest the money and double the amount for their master. The third servant buries his and makes no money. Nada. Zero. Nothing.
When the master comes back, he parties with the first two servants and rewards their investment smarts. He tells them that since they can be trusted with small amounts, he can now trust them with more. The third servant gets thrown out. Yikes.
So many times when I am trying to accomplish something, especially some spiritual discipline like Bible reading or better self-control, I feel like that third servant. Like I have failed and God is going to throw me out.
Last night I played some brain games on Lumocity. One of the games was a memory game where they show you a grid with a certain number and pattern of colored blocks. As you successfully recall the pattern of blocks, you get a bigger grid with more blocks. If you mess up (and most of us do) you aren’t locked out of the game or sent back to the beginning. You simply go back to the last grid where you were successful. Then you keep going from there. Your small successes are acknowledged while you attempt larger and larger puzzles.
That’s when it hit me that I have been looking at my spiritual efforts in the wrong way. I am not like the third servant after all. I am not hiding what God has given me and on the verge of being tossed on my kiester. I am honestly trying to use my gifts and talents, improve them, grow them. I may not be doubling the value of what I have been given, but I am investing it into my life and the lives of others. I don’t need to live in fear of being thrown out but in celebration of the little successes I have seen. And, just like the game, the more I practice the better I’ll get.
Now I am energized. Now I have more purpose to my trying. For if I succeed in letting my light shine a little I will be given more and more light to shine on others. That is a pattern for living that even I can remember.
The master was full of praise. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
Matthew 25:21 NLT