28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'” (Matthew 25).
Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. Whoever does not have … even what they have? Hold up. Is Jesus talking in circles? Or is He making a POWERFUL point about perception?
When I was a kid, I loved to collect comic books! (To be honest, I’m STILL a kid in that way). I loved the stories and illustrations and, of course, had my favorite superheroes and issues (Spider-man vs. Wolverine was one). I enjoyed and cherished the comics so much that I went to great lengths to keep them pristine. I was careful not to wrinkle pages. I never ate or drank when I was reading. I put each one carefully back into its plastic sleeve was I was done–and often retrieved it again to make sure I hadn’t done damage during the process. I babied my books! They were more like ancient relics in a museum of antiquities. Kept safe. Untested by the elements. Pristine.
More often than I’d like to admit, I’ve done this with more than comics. At different junctures, I’ve been obsessively protective of my talents and abilities. Questions like What if they don’t like me? or What if I’m not good enough? or Where will I turn if I fail?–these have periodically riddled me with analysis paralysis and have become the protective sleeve for abilities that were never meant to be put on the shelf.
Matthew 25:14-30 is a sobering reminder: risk (though inherently scary and fraught with potential for failure) is a part of God’s plan. He wants His servants–those to whom He has entrusted abilities, opportunities, and resources–to take leaps of faith with their talents and to, in turn, make a difference in the lives of others, even helping them realize their own potential. To make 1 = 2.
Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. A buried, protective talent is not of much value to anyone and wrongly risks never being discovered. 1=0.
A talent pushed past the edge of safe and the sting of failure is unique and storied. It motivates and inspires and gives life to others. 1=2.
So, whatcha got? You do the math.