And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21 NKJV
Blessed Christmas! This is the most wonderful time of the year and my favourite season as I remember when God sent Jesus to us as a little baby boy. Since His birth, Jesus knew that it was His destiny to save the whole world from sin.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11 NKJV
Jesus knew His purpose on earth, lived a fruitful life in accordance with God’s will for Him and later fulfilled His destiny as our Savior through His death on the cross. It was this reflection of my Savior’s destiny and His miraculous birth at Christmas that led me to ponder about my own purpose and destiny in life.
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14 NKJV
Whenever I come across this verse, I believe that I was born to do something great with my life. I know I am not alone in this as I find out that it is a common human phenomenon to believe that there is more to life than just being a cog in a machine, or a rat running the race. Even as a child, I have always questioned what it meant to be chosen, and whether I would be amongst the few who are chosen.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV
We find this similar statistic mentioned earlier in the book of Matthew; many would enter the wide gate that leads to destruction, while few would enter the narrow gate that leads to life. We know that this verse does not include the word eternal, and is not referring to eternal death or eternal life as the book of Revelation mentions a great multitude which no one could number standing before Jesus in heaven.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Revelation 7:9-10 NKJV
Thus, both scenarios mentioned are referring to our lives here on earth. There are many people, Christians included, who are called and yet not chosen, who live a life that leads to destruction instead of living a life that God intended. Because God created us with our own free will, He doesn’t infringe on the freedom that He has given us and will not force His choice upon us. This is why being chosen, and walking through the narrow gate is a choice we make. We choose to be chosen.
It always seems easier to walk a natural life, based on our own strength and efforts. But it is always much more rewarding to walk a supernatural life that is totally dependent on God, even though it seems to go against our natural instincts.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Romans 8:28-30 NKJV
God, the author of time, beginning and the end, lives outside time and knows who would choose to be chosen before we even choose. Just as Jesus foreknowingly chose to lay down His life and predestined His own crucifixion before it happened. So those that have already chosen to live a life with Jesus in the future are predestined to be called, justified by faith through Jesus, and glorified in Jesus. That is why we can be certain that we are predestined for greater things when we choose to follow Jesus.
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
1 Peter 4:1-2 NKJV
Thus as believers, we know that we are first and foremost called to live a life that is no longer bound by sin but according to the will of God. When Jesus died for us, we no longer live under the law, but by His grace.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
2 Timothy 1:8-10 NKJV
We are therefore certain that we are not called to live a legalistic life according to our own efforts and works, but live one that is led by the Holy Spirit within, bringing glory to God. Our foundation is to live as His beloved under the grace that Jesus has already given to us, to live a life of inward rest having the faith that He has already purposed and provided everything that we will ever need. Once our foundation is established, it becomes easier to figure our direction to take. Now, this may take some time as we find ourselves in the Lord, exploring our passions, gifts, and talents.
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13 NKJV
The gifts and talents that God has placed within us are for His good pleasure. Thus in whatever we do, we do it as worship unto the Lord, be it studying, exploring our hobbies, or even working at our jobs. It is also important to know that while God doesn’t impose His own will on us, we can willingly participate by asking God to work in us the desire to develop our passion.
While studying for a generalist degree in Business Management, I often witnessed youths who had already found their passion early on in life and I was so keen to find something that I would be passionate about. I tried exposing myself to many activities. Though there were many hits and misses, I had the privilege and opportunity to discover my passions, as well as what I disliked.
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
Psalms 139:13-18 NKJV
We are unique from each other with differing passions, talents, and gifts because we are all wonderfully made. The individual journies we take to find ourselves differ from each other as well. The Parable of the Talents is a story that well illustrates our different gifts and the different journies that we can choose.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14-30 NKJV
As there are many interpretations of a parable, I have found two to be applicable to this topic. The first is the translation of the talent to the knowledge of the Word of God, the more we study and hear the Word of God, the more He multiplies His revelations about His Word to us. However, if our knowledge of the Word of God is shallow, when we decide not to act upon the little that we know, even the little that we knew would be taken away from us.
The second interpretation is that the talents are our actual talents and gifts. We can easily witness people of varying calibre all around us, there are multi-talented people who are brilliant in everything they set their hands upon, and there are people who solely specialize in one talent. For the believer, the servants who multiplied their talents are synonymous with a person who has lifted their capabilities to the Lord and further developed more talents. Just like how an entrepreneur might have started his business from a single passion for writing, and had to learn other skills to manage the company founded on his passion.
Likewise, the servant who had only one talent buried it and eventually lost it speaks of a man who abuses his talent and decides to do nothing about it. Even though we might start out with very little, being faithful to the little that we have guarantees multiplication when we lift it up to God.
“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
Romans 12:6-8 NKJV
When we are aware that all our gifts come from God through His grace, we realize that none of our talents belongs to us at all. As we acknowledge God as our source, we can rely on Him to place us in the area we are gifted to worship in, be it in the church as a preacher or minister, the school as a teacher or student, the marketplace as a businessman, the media industry as an artist, or even a small company with an entry-level job. We are graced to excel in the position we are in, no matter how big or small.
“And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.”
I Corinthians 12:6-11 NKJV
There are so many diverse activities that the Spirit gifts unto us as well, each with our own unique purpose. There will be times that we may find uncertainty in what we’re doing or called to do, and we do not need to be overwhelmed nor overconcerned with that uncertainty because we can always trust that God will show us the way in due time as long as we keep resting in Him.
A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor.
Proverbs 29:23 NKJV
However, we must be cautious of the dangers of pride, our own ego might cause us to bury our talent in the ground in fear of failure instead of even doing anything about it. I used to be paralysed by a sense of perfectionism because I thought I could not meet the standard, or my efforts would never be good enough. This is where the root of my pride lay in me focusing on myself instead of God.
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 NKJV
When we become proud of our accomplishments and draw confidence from our own capabilities, it becomes hard for God to use us. God wants us to glorify Him, not ourselves. Thankfully, we are no longer bound by a legalistic law that we need to follow to avoid pride but are led by a gentle Spirit that warns us and teaches us from the inside, and He will never lead us to pride. That is why even though we may currently have so little, it is important for us to humble ourselves and be willing to lift the little we have up to God, rest knowing that He has already provided what we need, and do what we need to do with what we have.
“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”
Then Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.” Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
John 6:9-13 NKJV
God never asks us to give what we do not have, nor do what we cannot do. He is looking at what we already have in our hands. Lifting up what we have to God is as simple as saying a prayer “God, take the talent that I have and multiply it for your glory”. There is no complicated ritual, but a simple and humble posture of not looking at how we can meet the demands with what we have, but looking at Jesus who is our infinite supply to all the demands of our life.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
Now what we are weak at does not necessarily equate to something we cannot do. Even as we figure out our own destiny, we might find ourselves struggling with our own weaknesses. Thankfully we can boldly lift them up to God and witness Him use them to our strengths, God is especially glorified when He turns our weaknesses to the strengths that we operate in. That keeps us humble, reliant on God and reminds me that He is looking for our availability instead our ability.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16 NKJV
When God supplies and multiplies what we lift up to Him, we can rely on Him to place us at where we need to be as well. When we let God have full control over what we have, He’ll place us in places of influence, because you cannot hide a light that is brightly shining. We then become the light that shines in a dark world, in all the areas and industries that we are placed in.
The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.
Genesis 39:2-4 NKJV
Just like Joseph, the Lord will always be with us wherever we are called to. We can trust Him to prosper all that our hand touches. We can always simply bring God into all our activities with a simple prayer, and that security can give us the courage to be bold in all our pursuits.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”
They answered Him, “No.”
And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”
John 21:3-10 NKJV
Now while we may work and not see any increase, we must be careful to not be legalistic and let the Spirit remind us to bring Jesus back into our picture. He is more than able to supply the multiplication we seek. And even as we glorify God with our worship, Jesus encourages us by giving us the credit for the work He already did, just as how He credited His disciples for catching the fish that He brought in.
We all grow through life in different stages, and no matter what stage we are in, be it finding our passions and purpose, or building upon our calling, or even leading and guiding others to their purpose, we can always be certain that God will always lovingly prepare us for the destiny that He has predestined us for.