Now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him.
1 Corinthians 12:18
Tell me, which is the better member, the foot or the hand? There is, when you come to think of it, no way of comparing them. Their function in the human body is quite different, and each is equally needed there. And yet many minimize God’s calling. Because they cannot be the special member they admire, they decline to take their place at all. This is exactly the situation described in Jesus’ parable of the men with talents in Matthew chapter 25. There was a servant with five talents, and another with two, but the whole emphasis of the parable is on the one-talent man. The danger is if the one-talent brother burying his talent. “Since I cannot occupy a place of prominence,” he asks himself, “does it matter therefore whether I occupy any place at all?” It most certainly does! For the parable teaches that if two can grow into four, one can grow into two. It is by functioning that we discover life. The Church’s life is hampered and impoverished by the holding back of the one-talent members.
How sad it is when Christians compare themselves to others. One thing I’ve learned is that others will either be more than we are or less. In either case, our conclusion and response is flawed logic. The question Nee poses is important for we know that it’s a foolish task to attempt to compare two totally different objects. How for example can we compare apples and oranges? We even use that phrase to remind ourselves and others of the foolishness of comparing two totally different things.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, told them and us that each of us are different from anyone else. In nature even identical twins are not exact carbon copies of each other. Each of them have unique characteristics that distinguish them as individuals.
Paul’s point is that it takes each amber of the body to make it whole. Every part is unique and yet necessary. To be sure each part is equally important. Since the eye cannot perform the work of the ear nor the hand the foot and so forth including the parts that aren’t large or visible, every part is necessary and in the scheme of things no matter how small or seemingly unimportant they have equal value.
While we all want to be five-talent people or even two-talent servants, in reality most of us are really one-talent believers. There are many more one-talent believers in the body of Christ than five or two.
The limitation the body experiences is due more often than not from the one-talent section. That section believes, however wrongly, that that aren’t necessary and they have nothing significant to contribute. Where would we be physically if our natural body tried to function that way? What if one day a nerve decided that since it wasn’t noticed, it would cease to contribute? Would the arm or leg or ear or hand also lose its capacity to function? How often is the ministry of the church limited or non-functional because a critical one-talent member decides their gift is unimportant and unneeded.
We focus, as we do with our natural bodies on the highly visible parts of the church. Let me paint a picture. Suppose a congregation wishes to healthy and reproductive. It desires to have growth with many people coming to know Jesus. Is it sufficient that only the visible parts function? Suppose, for example, the music team is able to provide excellent music but it can’t be heard because there’s one who operated the sound system. Suppose when people arrive, the building is dirty and uncomfortable because no one saw that this was just as important as the music. Let’s assume the preacher or teacher prepares well and presents well. Would it matter it there is no one to hear?
The truth is that everyone who comes to the Lord does so because the whole body functions in its proper place and order with every part providing for total success. There are those who have prayed, those who have made connections and befriended the sinner, those who made the church invited, and many behind the scenes who contributed to lost person’s journey home. All we see is the sanctuary team who were visible in the moment. The truth is that often that team contributes the least.
Like the man in the parable many of us have listened to and been convinced by the lie that what we have and what we do doesn’t matter. We don’t understand the anger of the master toward that servant. God isn’t wasteful and he expects a return for His investment in us. If you pay attention to His words to the five-talent and two-talent servants they say, “You have been faithful in a few things.” Maybe we ought not consider that who we are and what we have to contribute is unimportant for the health of the whole.
Someone has said that when good people do nothing, evil prevails. I want to say that when Christians hide their talents rather than investing them the church remains weak and poor.
You matter and what you bring to the table matters. Who you are is who God made you to be and everything He put in you has value and importance in the kingdom of God.
Those of us who give ourselves to the work of God really miss you when what you can bring is missing. Often behind the scenes contributors are the most valuable. On one of my missions trips, as myself and our ministry team were holding outdoor meetings that were hugely successful, I’m sure that many gave us the credit. However, while we were doing visible ministry, there was a team that were hidden away in a local church praying from 4:30 that morning until the meeting concluded that afternoon around 4. Literally they invested almost twelve hours in intercessory prayer. Their names weren’t on billboards or flyers announcing the meetings. They weren’t brought to the stage and introduced. I doubt that anyone outside the prayer group even knew their names. But oh what they contributed to those meetings. As a preacher I can tell you that the value of the unseen and often overlooked invisible workers are extremely valuable. I believe that if all of us one-talent servants will just give to God ourselves to be used in His appointed place, one day we will hear those most powerful words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things.”
Let us not be as the man in the parable and believe that our talent isn’t worth being used and so we bury it and thereby the church suffers loss and we find ourselves ejected from the kingdom of God.
Dr. John Thompson