The Olympians

Sochi 2014. It's happening. Here we are, along with the rest of the world. All these nations, all these countries, we meet in this one event that somehow connects with everyone, regardless of race. These are the Olympics: raw talent mixed with years of blood, sweat, and tears. This is what athletes dream about. This is what they work all their lives toward. This is where people's climaxes are reached. This is where people's lives are shattered.

This is where the human race determines the best of the best, ignoring all the rest. This is where they ignore all the hours, days, weeks, months, and years that were spent in preparation. No medal = no matter. They're all talented, no doubt, but their faults are highlighted above all else, and they are awfully penalized for every little mistake. Eyes are peeled for slips, much more than for the strengths. The trips, falls, and crashes are replayed over and over, shown to the world nonstop, forgetting the rest of the otherwise-flawless performance. We focus on the bad.

That's a prime example of what happens when we follow the example of the third servant in Matthew 25. 

14 ~ Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip.

I have no talents. I have no gifts. I can't do anything . . . God can. He has chosen to given me His talents and His gifts- and He's chosen to give specific gifts and talents to every single human on earth, just like the servants in the parable. Otherwise stupid, incapable, weak creatures, he personalized with gifts of wits, speaking, writing, creativity, singing, dancing... athletic abilities- and much, much more.

I'm sure you know the parable. If not, it's found in Matthew 25:14-30. Basically, the first servant invested His money. This otherwise broke, unemployed servant was entrusted with five bags of silver, the second servant was entrusted with two, and the third with one.

The first and second servant went straight to work, investing the money and working to earn more for when their Master would return. They are the people who understand that their 'talents' and 'abilities' are NOT theirs to keep. They are the people that understand that to loiter around, letting these gifts waste away, is not the right thing to do. These are the people who seize opportunity, take risks, give much, and use their God-given talents to further His kingdom.

In verses 21 and 23, after the Master learns of the wonderful results that the first two servants had with His entrusted money, He gives them equal praise. Even though they were entrusted with different amounts, and the first earned more than the second, the amount was of no matter. They both received the incredible words of the Master: "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!" The only thing that mattered to the Master was that they do their best to use their gifts for His glory.

Then, there are those like the third servant... which was everyone at one point, until we figured out that our gifts were not really ours to keep. He buried his money to keep it safe. He was shy, he was hesitant, he thought his portion was useless and pointless, so he hid it. Sound familiar? 

Even people who appear to be using their abilities well, like many renowned artists, singers, performers, and athletes, could be much like the third servant. For a billion gold medals that are not won in God's name are a billion worthless medals. Every accomplishment, every certificate, every practice, every spoken word that is not executed with the intent of glorifying God... is worthless.

The Master calls this man a 'wicked and lazy servant,' but it does not end there.

29 ~ To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. 

Gifts and talents that go to waste without accomplishing a single thing for God's kingdom are sadly very common. We all have gifts, but I know for myself, many of those are growing dusty, or are being used for meaningless reasons. We need to grasp that these gifts and talents and possessions do NOT belong to us- God is lending them to us, for the purpose of making the most of them!

This is why we are God's servants! This is why Paul is a slave of Christ! This is what it means! 

It's been quoted a dozen times on this blog already, and it'll be quoted a dozen times more. 

Matthew 6:19-21
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.