For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God within you for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. II Timothy 1:6a,7
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice… This passage in Timothy reminds me of my recent time of reflection on Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents. I’ve been bothered by this parable and the harsh words and treatment given to the servant who tried to protect the one talent with which he had been entrusted. As I reflected on this passage, I realized that when I am bothered by a bit of scripture, that may be an indication that I should pay attention to it.
This is what I learned in focusing on this parable:
A little research revealed that the value of a talent was 6,000 denarii, which in Jesus day was equal to the income produced by twenty years of work for a day laborer. So burying a talent would be like burying twenty years of experience!
In this servant I recognized fear, negativity, and lack of faith. Out of fear of failure and fear of the response of others, I could understand why be wanted to protect himself. I saw that his lack of faith in himself could also be translated as lack of faith/belief his maker. If God gave him a talent, it was given to be used, but the servant did not trust the Master. God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….
Certainly the servant’s negative attitude about his situation made him a victim from the start. Rather than seeing the possibilities, rather than putting faith in the Master who offered an opportunity of personal growth and success, the servant decided not to risk it.
Now I understood what a great disservice it was not just to my Master, but also to myself, of burying my talent. It was equal to the loss of 20 years of experience and opportunity, all out of fear and lack of faith in God’s gifts. God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….
Going a step further I asked myself to identify my fears. The list, to my surprise, comprised a list of names! My fears were all based in what others might think if I offered my gift. The names on my list were people in my life who I saw in positions of authority, people I respected, whose rejection of my gift (of me?) would be painful. God did not give us a spirit of cowardice….
Elizabeth O’Connor in her inspiring little book, Eighth Day of Creation: Gifts and Creativity, says:
We ask to know the will of God without guessing that his will is written into our very beings. We perceive that will when we discern our gifts. Our obedience and surrender to God are in large part our obedience and our surrender to our gifts. This is the message wrapped up in the parable of the talents. Our gifts are on loan. We are responsible for spending them in the world, and we will be held accountable.
If fear is preventing you from living out the gifts and talents you’ve been given, you can know that God did not give us a spirit of cowardice…. God longs for us to grow through the use of our gifts. God walks along beside us as we test those gifts, and God smiles when we offer them back to the world in service.
Blessings as you offer your talents and gifts.