Using your gift?

Today, a phrase I’ve often read struck me with new meaning. I found it in Matthew 25 where Jesus teaches about the kingdom of heaven. You know the story. A man is going away on a business trip. Before he leaves, he gives each of his servants gold to invest for him while he is away. The amounts given, we are told in the passage, correspond to each servant’s ability.

Two of the servants immediately go to work investing the gold. In the process, they earn more for their master. But one servant buries his gift, unwilling to risk his master’s wrath. When the master returns, he commends the two who have invested their gold. But he condemns the one who has done nothing.

The remarkable line is this. The servant defends himself with these telling words, “I WAS AFRAID.”

He was. Afraid the master wouldn’t approve. Afraid he wouldn’t be successful. Afraid that he didn’t have the skills to turn a profit for the master. And his fear was so profound that it immobilized him. This poor servant had the ability — we know that from the text. But  he let fear make his decisions for him.

What struck me was how often most people let fear incapacitate them. Yes, we do it when we refuse to serve in our churches (what if I fail? What if people think badly of me?). But we do it too when we refuse to do the things we know are right. I do it, when I refuse to bare my heart in the midst of a misunderstanding. (What if this person uses something I say against me?) I do it when I’m afraid to invest time in the lives of others. (What if I don’t have enough time to do the things I need to get done?) I do it when I refuse to give away my finances (What if I don’t have enough resources for my own needs?)

Even though I don’t think of myself as a fearful person. Sometimes, fear keeps me from obedience. I don’t ever want to be the servant who responds, “BUT  I WAS AFRAID!”

How about you? Does fear ever make you shake in your boots?

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