We’re told all lives matter, and they certainly do. But not everyone puts to use the talents, abilities, and opportunities they’ve been given.
Down deep, everyone wants to live a life that matters. We all want to feel fulfilled. We all want to have something amazing to show for the years we’ve lived.
A Parable in Living a Life that Matters
Jesus told his disciples a story about a man who went on a long journey and turned his finances over to his three servants to manage while he was gone. He gave the first servant five talents (each talent was equivalent to twenty years of wages), the second two talents, and the third one talent — “to each according to his own ability,” Jesus said.
Immediately, the first two servants put their portion of their master’s money to work as he expected them to.
But the third servant dug a hole in the ground and buried his.
After a long time, the master came home. The first two servants had doubled the amount the master gave them and presented their earnings to him. He praised each of them, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy.”
The third servant approached the master and insulted him. He said, “Master, I know you. You’re a harsh man, reaping where you haven’t sown and gathering where you haven’t scattered seed. So I was afraid and went off and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”
This cynical servant made no effort to invest the money his master had entrusted to him. At the very least, his master told him, he could have put it in the bank where it would have earned interest.
The master gave the command: “Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The master didn’t punish this servant because he didn’t produce results, but rather because he had no faith in his master and in his goodness.
I know many people like this, and I bet you do, too — those who reject Jesus and His gift because they doubt His goodness. They bury the life and purpose He gave them and produce no results for His Kingdom. This is why they feel so empty. They want their lives to matter, but they can’t make that happen without aligning their lives with God’s plan and purpose for them.
How Does My Life Matter?
Contrary to what we may think, living a life that matters doesn’t mean frantically working hard every single moment. It doesn’t mean desperately striving to make a difference in every or any way we can.
Living a life that matters requires simply surrendering to our Master, Jesus, and to His purpose and plan for us.
The First Part of God’s Plan for Us
The first part of His plan is that we accept the gift of His righteousness in place of our sinfulness.
Because He was the pure sacrifice, dying for us and then resurrecting from the dead by His own power, He is able to transmute His righteousness to us. All we need to do is accept by faith this amazing gift. Otherwise, any good we try to do is only as valuable as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
The Second Part of God’s Plan for Us
The second part of God’s plan for us is that we each live authentically as the unique person He created us to be and in the unique purpose He created us for.
Just as the first two servants “put to work” what their master entrusted to them, so must we “put to work” the unique personality and purpose God entrusted to us. We can’t do this, though, when we’re trying to be like others or do what they’re doing.
Our lives matter when we are true to who God created us to be, follow His plan for our lives, and live His purpose for us.
Lessons from the Parable of the Talents
1. God gives each person a unique purpose and gifting.
Just as the master gave a different gift to each of his servants, so God does with each of us. We can’t put another person’s gift to work in our own lives. We can only utilize what He has entrusted to us to produce fruit for His Kingdom.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)
2. God gives us all we need to fulfill His purpose for us.
We need not worry if someone else has abilities or opportunities or finances to work with that we don’t. God provides all we need to do what He calls us to do.
“And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)
3. Our view of God determines what action we will take.
The third servant buried his gift because he viewed his master as a harsh judge who would punish him no matter what he did. His cynicism caused him to live fearfully and selfishly. Many people harbor the same cynical view of God and doubt His goodness.
When we choose the accurate view of God as a good, good Father who loves us without measure, we find freedom and confidence to use the gifts He’s given us to fulfill His purpose for us.
“Rekindle the gift of God that is in you… For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
“Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8)
4. God rewards us according to our faith and faithfulness, not the amount of fruit we produce.
The master of Jesus’ parable gave the same praise and reward to the first two servants. It didn’t matter that the amount the first one earned was much greater than that of the second. What mattered was that they had, by faith, put to work what their master had given them.
On the other hand, the master punished the servant who buried his talent because his actions revealed his lack of faith in his master.
The work of God’s grace in our lives always produces fruit. If we surrender to Jesus and accept His gift of grace to us, we will produce fruit. We need not fear the same punishment that the third servant received.
“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.” (1 John 4:18)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.” (John 15:5-9)
5. Our purpose continues throughout eternity.
The master’s return in this parable appears to represent Jesus’ return for us. When He welcomes us Home to Heaven, he will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”
I don’t pretend to know everything this means, but it seems clear that if we are faithful over what He has given us to do here, He will put us in charge of much more there.
“If we endure, we will also reign with him.” (2 Timothy 2:12a)
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations.” (Revelation 2:26)
“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20-21)
Go All Out in Living a Life that Matters
In reality, it’s not we who make our lives matter, it’s our Creator who makes our lives matter. He gave us our purpose and strategically designed and created us to live it. When we let go of others’ expectations and our own preconceived ideas, we are free to be all God designed us to be.
The default is to waste our lives, like the third servant, rather than making the conscious choice to give it our all as did the first two servants.
Which will it be for you? Wasting your life or making it count?
Making our lives count is about stepping out in faith — not playing it safe, but living freely and boldly as God created us.
I would be delighted to help you discover your life purpose and discern what steps God has for you next. Knowing your life purpose is a priceless gift you can give yourself — it can make all the difference between living a frustrated life and living a fulfilling life that matters every single day!