When we were kids, my sister and I would each get allowances from our grandparents for Lunar New Year celebrations. According to tradition, I, the older, receive more money than my younger sister. So we each did our bow and received identical envelops. At home, we excitedly opened the envelops and pulled out the money inside: to Sarah (me), a ₩50,000 currency, and to Sam, ₩10,000. I, being the boastful child I was, bragged about how “bigger” my money was than Sam’s, triggering her tantrum. At the sight, our mom came and tried to comfort her. “No, Sam, you received the same amount. Look! Sarah got one money, and you got one money. It’s the same!” Sam quickly recovered her happiness and waved her currency at me. “See! I got just as much as you did!”
Our society is quite like this childhood tale. We all receive talents from our Creator, but not all equally. There will always be someone above and below you in any talent. I like to write, but I am obviously not the best, nor the worst. I can play the guitar quite well, but I will never achieve “the best”. This means that the levels in which we place ourselves for comparison – “she is better at this than I am” “he is stronger” “I am fatter” and whatnot – do actually exist, contrary to what we would like to say: “Oh no, it’s not that she’s better, you’re just different.”
How long will we tolerate such lies? We must admit that there are people who are just untalented in any aspect while there are people who really do have all the talents a human being could possibly have (*coughcoughAsianscough*).No? These so called “untalented” people must be good at something – we would like to say. However, through experience, you and I both know that sometimes, it isn’t so.
So how do we deal with that? Do we get proud or self-deprecating? A lot of us are on the self-deprecating side. “Why am I like this, with no special talent, with such simplistic skills and rudiment knowledge? I can’t even work efficiently to learn new skills.” I personally jump back and forth between the sides, but neither of them are places we are called for in the Bible.
I would like to remind you of the Sunday-school story, The Parable of the Talents (unit of money) (Matthew 25:14-30). Once upon a time, there was a guy. He was rich and had several servants at hand. One day, he called his servants and told them he was going on a journey. He then entrusted them with his property. “To you, my Servant #1, I shall entrust FIVE whole talents! And to you, my Servant #2, TWO talents! And lastly, my Servant #3, I shall give you ONE talent. I shall be back someday. Good bye.” Then he went away. Servant #1 immediately traded his five talents with wisdom, gradually doubling it. Servant #2 did so too, and produced two more talents. Servant #3, also did….oh. No, he feared that he would lose the one talent he had, and instead of investing, buried his talent in the ground. At least he won’t lose it. Years passed, and the master finally came back (with a long bushy beard). He called the servants, and they presented their talents. To the first servant he said, “Great job, Servant#1, you are amazing! Let us feast together!”Then he said to the second servant, “Great job, Servant #2, you are amazing too! Let us feast together!” So it was third servant’s turn. “WHAAAAAAAAAT. You buried it? Might as well get the 0.03% a bank would’ve given me if you had it invested! You are so foolish, slothful! Get outa here!!”
Yes. The poor Servant #3 was kicked out, into the outer darkness, where there were “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Sad. Quite pitiful. But what was so wrong about what he did?
You see, the master entrusted the servants with his money with the expectation that they increase it. Notice how Servant#1 and Servant #2 received identical praises, despite the fact that Servant #1 produced more than half of what Servant #2 produced. The master did not measure how much was produced, but instead how much effort was produced. Had Servant #3 generated another mere talent, he would have received the same praise.
Likewise, we are entrusted with the talents we have – our ability to do anything, really, with the expectation that we use them to please our Creator to the fullest extent. We must simply do our best. If you have no other ability than thinking, even that can be used to glorify the Lord and be praised for.
So don’t be afraid to know your place in abilities and talents. Don’t be angry at God for giving you seemingly worthless talents either. Whatever is given you, use it, with the best effort, for the best cause.