Where Much Is Given
Jesus said, “To whom much is given from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more“ Luke 12:48
We can only speculate how Jesus’ statement about “much” sounded to the poor, dusty shepherds and farmers in his day and what it must sound like to people in parts of the world today who are barely surviving. Most of us are, by historic and current standards of living, the wealthiest people the world has ever seen. No, we don’t have the wealth of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, but we are fabulously rich.
We can look at our balance sheet in one of two ways: we can compare our net worth with those who have much more and feel inferior, hurt, and a little angry that things haven’t worked out as well as we had hoped. Or we can watch the news of drought, famine, floods, and genocidal wars and breathe a deep sigh of relief, realizing we have it made!
There will come a day when we stand before Christ to give an account of all he has entrusted to us on that day, he won’t ask how our balance sheet compared with anyone else’s. He’ll ask, “what did you do with all I entrusted to you?“
Responsibility prods us to take action, but guilt makes as a lousy motivator. A far better push comes from actually investing our resources in the causes God cares about and seeing lives changed. Making a difference in others lives is a thrill! We want to give more and God knows we have plenty to give.
“Success is doing the very best I can every chance I get with what I have for a purpose that is bigger than I am and that will outlive me.“
There are two things we often overlook when we think about what we have. First of all, everything we have is a gift from God. If we were born with certain aptitudes and abilities, they were given to us before we were born by God. Whatever other skill sets we have obtained through others, the wisdom and knowledge they have transferred to us came from God. Often we think that we through our own efforts and abilities have accomplished great things, never realizing that those opportunities and the ability to utilize them were gifts from God.
Second of all, we often take inventory and feel we come up short in abilities to accomplish our goals. This is especially true when we engage in the work that God has given us to do. We often withhold or fail to take action because we feel we aren’t capable of such things. But God isn’t limited to our abilities, just our availability. The only true hindrance to God working through us to accomplish great things is our unwillingness to make ourselves available to Him.
As you read through the Bible, you will notice that God more times than not used people that through the eyes of others were certainly not the best of the lot. Sometimes it seemed that God deliberately chose the least likely person to carry out His tasks.
“Just look at your own calling, believers; not many [of you were considered] wise according to human standards, not many powerful or influential, not many of high and noble birth. But God has selected [for His purpose] the foolish things of the world to shame the wise [revealing their ignorance], and God has selected [for His purpose] the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong [revealing their frailty]. God has selected [for His purpose] the insignificant (base) things of the world, and the things that are despised and treated with contempt, [even] the things that are nothing, so that He might reduce to nothing the things that are, so that no one may [be able to] boast in the presence of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-29
So then what does God want from us, we might ask. Jesus has said that “to whom much is given, much is required.” Many of us breathe a sigh of relief and say, “Well, that’s not me. I haven’t given much of anything.” The truth is that if you are a child of God, you have been given much. God gave up His Son for you and that Son gave up His life for you. I think we all must say, “God has truly given me much!” It is true that none of us operate at the same level but whatever level we are at, God asks us to be faithful using what we have been given for His purpose.
The apostle Peter shows us the secret of successfully applying this principle. He and John were confronted one day by a person with a need. The man wanted a few coins so he could buy food for the day. Peter honestly told him that he had no silver nor gold. Now the story could have ended here. As a matter of fact it’s where it often ends for us. We think that we don’t have sufficient resources to meet the needs that come to our attention. We might walk away feeling a little guilty or remorseful that we can’t meet the need. But God had something more for the man that day than just a few coins and He needed Peter and John to be His instruments of transfer. Although neither of the apostles could meet even the small needs of the man, God could and beyond that the true need. So the Holy Spirit moves on Peter and through Peter to accomplish His plans for the one in need.
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), and a man who had been unable to walk from birth was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, so that he could beg alms from those entering the temple. So when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking [them] for coins. But Peter, along with John, stared at him intently and said, “Look at us!” And the man began to pay attention to them, eagerly expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have; but what I do have I give to you: In the name (authority, power) of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—[begin now to] walk and go on walking!” Then he seized the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankles became strong and steady, and with a leap he stood up and began to walk; and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God; and they recognized him as the very man who usually sat begging for coins at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with wonder and amazement and were mystified at what had happened to him.
There’s the answer. It’s the answer Peter gave-“such as I have give I.” That’s what Jesus is telling us. God isn’t asking for something we don’t have. He first gives us what we and those He sends us to and then He only asks us to give what we have. There’s no pressure or guilt or frustration that the need is greater than the resource.
Let share a story with you. One of my pastor friends shared this story. In his hometown, he and a few guys from the church would go to where the homeless hung out every Saturday morning. On the way they would stop at Hardee’s and buy biscuits for every one. One Saturday there was an extra guy and they were short a biscuit. My friend said they were trying to figure out what to do when one of the homeless guys tore his biscuit in half and gave it to the guy with no food. My friend said at that moment he understood ministry for the first time. It’s nothing more than one beggar sharing his biscuit that had been given him with another beggar. That’s what God is asking and if you have been given a whole biscuit and you see someone with none, you tear yours in half and share. From those who have been given, sharing is required.
We who have been given such a gift of salvation dare not keep it to ourself. That’s what Christ is saying to us. We who have experienced such joy and peace that comes from knowing Christ should be motivated to share that with others because we know the valuable gift it is and we unselfishly want to share it just like the homeless man sharing his biscuit with his new friend.
Dr. John Thompson