It’s not news to anyone that we spend inordinate amounts of time online these days…which can lead to dissatisfaction with our own lives in comparison to the false perceptions of someone’s reality (however carefully chosen). There are times I am set free when I see a post or photo of a friend without make up or with a messy kitchen or regaling her woes. There are other times I am beaten down because I believe I will never “measure up” or my life isn’t as great as theirs. (my job, my family, my house, my vacations, my younameit, I’m not enoughing it. )
It’s also quite likely that I myself have made people feel that very same way by what I post online. (Please forgive me?)
The bottom line: I know I spend too much time comparing my life to others and it robs me of joy. And comparison doesn’t stop there, it also snatches my motivation and increases my fear of doing what God’s called me to do. (Because what they’re doing matters so much more, right?)
The thief of comparison is alive and well, folks.
One of my favorite of Jesus’ teachings is found in Matthew 25, the Parable of the Talents. In this story a Master is going on a trip and he entrusts varying amounts of gold to his servants to watch over while he is away. He later returns to see how they cared for his treasure and is met with varying results.
I do believe this passage was written primarily about cold hard cash – aka gold coins. But we’re missing a strong connection that can be made if we leave it at that. When we think of “talents” more metaphorically speaking, we can include in this treasure our own talents, abilities, and God-given gifts. (our real treasure, in my opinion.)
(anyone think there’s lots of parentheses going on here today, sheesh, Sarah!)
Oh do I LOVE teaching about the talents and this passage of scripture. It totally convicts me people, and I hope it gently nudges (or pushes you) the same way – toward God’s best, not comparison or fear.
This passage teaches us 2 principles for good treasure management: (think cash if you must, but please also include talents/abilities)
Principle #1: Don’t focus on the DIFFERENCE
Everyone is given different talents. For example, there are many great Women’s Speakers who have 5 talents, and in comparison, maybe I have 1 or 2. But if I compare myself to them, I will never properly multiply my own talents, because I will be looking at what they have, not what I have.
But, we cannot always look at different talents (i.e. 5, 2,1 in the parable) as only quantities. They are merely different, as letters in the alphabet are different. A is different than B or C. Not better, just different.
We get so caught up comparing differences to others that it prevents us from using what we do have!
Servant Three was given 5 talents, and Servant Two was given 2. But Servant Two doesn’t focus on the reasons he only got 2, nor does he argue with the Master about why he got a different amount of gold. Instead he works with what he is given and multiplies it!
Principle #2: It takes WORK to multiply our talents
Servant One and Servant Two doubled their talents. The Master is overjoyed at the results! The NKJV Bible version says, “Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.”
His talents didn’t magically multiply…he worked hard to double his treasure. He may have been blessed by “more” talents than Servant One or Two, but he still had to get out there and use them to grow them.
On the other hand, Servant One buried his talent in the ground. Perhaps he was jealous of the other servants because they got more gold than him. But in the end, his jealousy, fear, anger – whatever caused him to get out the shovel – left him in deep trouble with the Master upon his return. He did not WORK with what was given. And he paid the price.
We are all given different gifts. But the amount given doesn’t change the Master’s expectations.
What counts is what we do with what we’re given.
The thief of comparison wants you to bury your talents. But the God of joy wants you to multiply.
Who you gonna listen to?