Time, Talents, and a City

         Reflecting on the year of 2020, one cannot help but think that it has been a year of obstacles and challenges to be forgotten. We are tired of death and the regret it brings. We are tired of restrictions, and so, we just want to live in the brighter moments of the past and the future, but that would be limiting. Yes, the pain and the hurt would be stripped away and forgotten, but you would also be taking away all the blessings, growth, and good things that God created for you (Eccles. 3:11). To go back to the past would be hiding the brilliant light you would become. Going to the future would be missing out on all the opportunities your light will have to brighten others. This implies that the time we are given now— despite how it may seem to us— is more precious than we might realize. Now is all we are granted; it is the gift we call the present.

            When talking about time and the value it holds, two examples come to mind. The first one is with the Israelites on Tel Gezer. Tel Gezer was a city built by the Canaanites on a high hill that was located slightly North West of Jerusalem. This city was important to God and the Israelites for it was placed on an ancient road linking the Egyptian Empire with Persia and Asia. The constant trade allowed the word of God to be spread throughout the known world. God handed the city over to Israel in Joshua 10:33. After it was allotted to the tribe of Ephraim and the tribe was told to cast out the Canaanites. Instead, Ephraim let them remain and thus the Canaanite’s were able to turn the hearts of the city’s Jewish inhabitants from God (Joshua 16:10). Similarly, what are we letting remain in our hearts that are turning us away from God and His blessings?

            Distractions can influence our use of time and bring us to the second example, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. In this parable, a master had given 3 servants different sums of money in the form of talents—a talent was equal to approximately 20 years’ worth of wages. One servant was given a talent, the other 2 talents, and the third was given five. After some time had passed, the servants with 2 and 5 talents had doubled their money and the master was pleased. When turned to the servant with one talent, the servant explained how he was afraid and buried the money. Having returned the gift, rather than using it wisely, the master casted out the servant and was displeased. The servant with one talent became too distracted by his fear to utilize the precious gift he had been given and to use his time with it wisely.

Each of us are granted gifts by God—in the form of money, time, talents, and so on – and it is our responsibility to not let distractions get in the way of us utilizing them. The servants could have easily been distracted over the amount they had been given. Thus, it is not the amount or type of blessings that a person is given that is important, but rather how a person uses the blessings they have been given. When looking at a person who has been blessed with 100 years versus someone who only had only lived 20, it is easy to get caught up in the amount of time they had. Instead, the focus should be on how greatly their heart had shined with the amount of time they had and how their light blessed us and those they encountered in life. The 2003 movie titled “The Last Samurai” expressed the sentiment very well. The final words of the movie articulating how it is not the manner of a person’s death we should be focusing on telling others, but it is how that person lived.

Jesus Christ exemplifies this sentiment very well. It is not the manner of death on a cross that is important, the importance is in these sentiments: Christ put God above all else (Matt. 22:36-40), He willingly died for our sins (Isaiah 50:6, 1 Peter 2:24), and that He lived and died as a servant despite the amount of power He possessed (Phil. 2:5-9). When showing and telling others about Jesus’ death, we aren’t just talking about the cross, but everything that Jesus lived and died for: which is patience, mercy, love, grace, and hope beyond human comprehension. In moments you feel like your light is hidden, or that you are not utilizing time wisely, there is no reason to become dismayed, discouraged, or to beat yourself up. Remember Jesus died for you and gave you the ability to talk to directly God. Jesus wants you to heed from His example and give God your emotions that are too hard to bear (Matt, 26:36-56). There is so much more to 2020 than just regrets and pain. Now that 2021 is upon you, know that you are not nor have you ever been alone. There is more to look for than fear in 2021 and more to gain than just survival. The Israelite’s made a choice to hide God’s gifts and light from the world at Tel Gezer, the servant chose fear over his blessings, and we have the choice to choose differently.