Keep developing your shape
By Rick Warren
— January 16, 2010
For this reason I remind you to keep alive the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 2 Timothy 1:6 (TEV)
Jesus' parable of the talents illustrates that God expects us to make the most of what he gives us. We are to cultivate our gifts and abilities, keep our hearts aflame, grow our character and personality, and broaden our experiences so we will be increasingly more effective in our service.
Paul told the Philippians to "keep on growing in your knowledge and understanding," (Philippians 1:9 NLT) and he reminded Timothy, "Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you." (2 Timothy 1:6 NASB)
If you don't exercise your muscles, they weaken and atrophy. In the same way, if you don't utilize the abilities and skill God has given you, you will lose them. Jesus taught the parable of the talents to emphasize this truth. Referring to the servant who failed to use his one talent, the master said, "Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents." (Matthew 25:28 NIV)
Fail to use what you've been given and you'll lose it. Use the ability you've got and God will increase it. Paul told Timothy, "Be sure to use the abilities God has given you ... Put these abilities to work." (1 Timothy 4:14-15 LB)
Whatever gifts you have been given can be enlarged and developed through practice. For instance, no one gets the gift of teaching fully developed. But with study, feedback, and practice, a "good" teacher can become a better teacher, and with time, grow to be a master teacher.
Don't settle for a half-developed gift. Stretch yourself and learn all you can. "Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won't be ashamed of." (2 Timothy 2:15 Msg) Take advantage of every training opportunity to develop your shape and sharpen your serving skill.
In heaven, we are all going to serve God forever. Right now, we can prepare for that eternal service by practicing on earth. Like athletes preparing for the Olympics, we keep training for that big day. "They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally." (1 Corinthians 9:25 Msg)
We're getting ready for eternal responsibilities and rewards.