When I was a child, my dad made a habit of coming into the room my brother and I shared just before bedtime. He would tuck his two boys in, read to us, and pray over us as Dante and I slowly faded from the land of the living. Almost every time he sat down with us, my dad would repeat the same phrase from Luke’s gospel. Lately I’ve taken to calling it the Baruffi family motto, so frequently was it repeated in our house those days.
Sitting by our bedside, my dad would remind us: “To he much is given, much is required.”
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The words of my father seemed to be ringing in my ears as Nate preached from the stage on Sunday. I had been given much…but what had I done with it? Haven’t all my resources gone towards making my life as easy as possible? Just like the third man in the parable, I often conclude that, despite whatever “talents” I possess, I am not especially talented, and am therefore exempt from the commands of the Master. For surely, if God wanted to really use me, He would have also given me greater resources, greater abilities, greater opportunities to do great things? I tell myself this in order to justify any action I take that I know doesn’t fall in line with the way God is leading me. If much has not been given, then much is not required.
I don’t have nearly the time nor the space to tell you how hypocritical this line of thinking is.
What is needed, I think, is a new definition of “much.” You and I define it as “whoever has the most.” The Master defines it as “whatever I have given you.”
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Dallas Willard, one of my favorite writers on the spiritual life, once wrote that being a disciple of Jesus means learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live life if he were I. You might want to read that back again. I like Willard here because an important distinction is made; that is, the question is not so much “what would Jesus do?” but rather, “Given these talents, limitations and resources, how would Jesus respond?”
Here’s another way of putting it. You live within a very specific context: you have a job, a family, friends, classmates, etc. You are also equipped with a very particular skill set, regardless of how you may feel about the quality of those skills. The question that demands an answer from you daily is this: if Jesus were me, how would He go about my business? How would He schedule my day? How would he do my job? How would he spend my money? Keep in mind that while Jesus operates without limits, you do not share His ability to do so. You are limited in the time you have, the tasks you can accomplish, and the people you can impact. How would Jesus respond to the particular situations you encounter if He spent a day in your shoes?
I believe that we will come to think differently about the gifts given to us by the Master when we truly come to know the Master. I recently heard John Piper say there is a universe of difference between knowing about God and knowing God. He’s right. Take this word to heart today: know God. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the very knowledge of Himself as revealed in Scripture. Pursue the knowledge of God that leads to a transformed life, for that is the life we were designed for in the first place. The one who knows the Master’s heart knows what to do with what he has been given.