What kind of story do you want to tell? What kind of mark will you leave, what kind of legacy will you impart? With big changes in my life over the last year, these have been recurring questions in my mind, and ones I want to challenge you with.
My friend Pete shared with me recently the three kinds of lives people live. The lowest form being the pleasurable life. This is the life where everything is served up to you on a platter and you spend it on yourself. Many dream of this kind of life… win the lottery and never work again… go on one big permanent holiday, escape reality, you spend on the most important person in the world – you! You read sad stories about such people all the time like the recent demise of the Tetra Pak billionaires in the UK. You know the old adage that it takes 3 generations to make and lose wealth…
The average form of life is where with the strengths you have you build a good life for yourself. So this is the life that many people work towards in Australia. You discover the gifts you have, the resources you are given and you invest those strengths for more gain. Work hard to play hard. But the gain is still ultimately used to benefit yourself.
But the highest form of life is to have strengths that are used not only for yourself but in the service of and benefit of others. This is the highest form of life. It is the life God intended us to have, the one of that original promise to Abraham that he would make his family into a great nation, and that it would be a blessing to all the nations on earth. It is the lamp not hidden under a bowl, it is the life of the faithful steward. That is the key to life: investing all that you are given for the creation of more, for the flourishing of life, for the blessing of your world!
Jesus started a revolution and he told stories about people such as these! You know the story of the Master who entrusts his servants with great wealth in Matthew 25. It explains what Jesus’ revolution people do with their lives. The message is clear – for those with ears to hear, let him hear!
In the story we are talking about a lot of wealth. The bags of gold he mentions here is equivalent to the wages of a working man for 10 years… So this master is wealthy and to the one with great ability he is entrusted with 100 years worth of wages. The implication is this story has scale – it is about what one would do with the totality of your life, all the resources and gifts that you are endowed with. Your intelligence, what you have inherited, your gifts, the blessings of family or education.
Secondly this story makes it clear that life is not fair, but it is about what we do with what is entrusted to us. According to their abilities, the wealth is entrusted to the servants. But life aint fair… and that can apply both looking up and looking down. Just as there are many who do not posses the blessings you have been given, so there are those who are blessed naturally with more than us. That has become very evident to me watching the Olympics. Victoria was pointing out to me that the long jumpers jump over 8m. I remember at school athletics being able to jump a little over 2 metres…
So this is about what you have been entrusted with.
The first servant is given 10 bags of gold, invests it and makes 10 more bags worth of gold. The second servant is given 5 bags of gold, invests it and makes 5 more bags. To both the master is pleased, “well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masters happiness.” What an amazing thing to hear. Wouldn’t it be great on the day when our lives are judged to hear that!
The third servant though is called wicked, lazy and worthless… why? Because even with the little he is given in his life, he burries it and returns it unused. There is an expectation from the Master that he was entrusted with wealth to bring a return. At the very least he could have earned some interest at the bank! As a result what he should have used to bring more blessing is given to those who invested wisely!
Well what kind of life do you want to live? What kind of story do you want to tell? What kind of mark will you leave, what kind of legacy will you impart, what kind of life do you want to live? If your life is a gift, and you have been invited to join a revolution, how will you spend your life?
If I could sum up this story for revolutionaries like you and me it would be this. Have a crack at life! Don’t tread water; start sowing for the life you want to live! The higher life! Use it well, invest your life wisely, bring back a return on what has been given to you!
Is this a story about your finances – yes. Is this a story about the spiritual gifts you have – yes. Is that about the key relationships in your life – yes. Is this a story about your health and fitness – yes. Is this a story about your work – yes. Is this a story about your creativity – yes.
This is about a life well spent. About the dreams that God has placed in your heart. About the resources he has entrusted to you in your life through your family, your education, the opportunities you have been born into. About the gifts that you have that can bless and benefit others, to build His kingdom, to prosper his church.
I was hearing about a successful church planter in the US recently. He was talking about the dreams we have and the hopes for our lives. He said, you are never really ready and you are never really sure you will succeed. But what you going to do with your life? Bury it in the sand and watch it pass you by? No, no!
Teddy Roosevelt – man of faith and 26th President of the United States famously said; “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Will you spend your life in a worthy cause? Firm in the knowledge that every good gift comes from the Lord. Firm in the knowledge that we work for a kingdom that will not perish or fade. Firm in the knowledge that we serve a God who loves us and calls us to join his heavenly revolution?
So what are called to do with your life?