September 8, 2008

Toys into Tools 
by Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk.com Faith Editor

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48

With the start of football season this month, I've heard the phrase, "to whom much is given, much is required" used a lot... and that's a good thing. A great thing. Athletes, profiled on sports shows, have been given chances to explain how they are using their celebrity and/or money to help mankind and/or spread the gospel. Most notable among them was the piece ESPN aired on University of Florida quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow (click here to view the excellent 4 minute, 34 second piece).

Tebow speaks in the interview about wanting to use what he's been given as a platform to further the Kingdom of God. Which is reminiscient of the parable Jesus told about the difference between faithful and unfaithful servants, stewards of the kingdom. Faithful servants are to be about their master's will, not doing their own thing, not squandering what they've been given, but instead, realizing how much they've been given, and that there are punishments awaiting those who knowingly disobey (and even for those - albeit less severely - who unknowingly disobey).

I like verses like our main verse today, where a concept is repeated synonymously for effect. Wisdom literature (in Psalms and Proverbs) are ripe with this structure, and Jesus makes use of it here. "Everyone who has been given much" is echoed by "the one who has been entrusted with much," and "much will be demanded" is synonymous with "much more will be asked." It drives the point home.

We often hear the first part of this verse quoted, and it works fine by itself. To whom much is given, much is required. It even works well in the secular world, so much so that non-Christians quote it, perhaps without even knowing it's a biblical concept, and superhero movies use it as a thematic element.

But this week, after seeing and reading several profiles of Christian athletes, I read the verse in its entirety, and it opened up a new level of meaning for me. Generally, when I think of things I've been "given," or "gifts," I tend to think of presents, possessions... toys, even. Things that are mine. Things I can hoard, break, forget about, get tired of, use for personal gain, waste, sell, or lose. Some things we are "given" include salvation, spiritual gifts, genetic gifts, talents, financial blessing, testimonies, family, forgiveness, love, and more.

Now, does your perspective shift at all if you think of those things not merely as "things given," but as "things you are entrusted with"? For me, the ante gets upped. There's a new level of seriousness. The steward who has faith must, by definition, be faithful.

My toys, as I grow up, must become my tools - the things the Master has given that He expects will be used to build and further His Kingdom.

Intersecting Faith & Life: What gift have you been entrusted with that you are still just playing with? Or hiding? Or wasting? Knowing the Master's will, decide what you would say if He returned today to find you not busy at Kingdom work. Then decide one way you can use what you have been entrusted with to edify others this week. You may not have the platform of a Tim Tebow, but you've been given all the requirements necessary to do the job assigned to you.

Further Reading

James 2:14-18
1 Corinthians 4:2
Envisioning Your 'God-Sized' Calling