His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.”
Not everyone starts out at the top. Some people work for years before they’re finally “discovered.” Consider the story of Sam.
Many years before the Civil War, Sam was a student at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He was an average student who could ride a horse well, and he did pretty well for a while. After 10 years, he resigned his commission in the Army and entered private life, working in his father’s leather business.
When the Civil War started, Sam wanted to get back into the action, and after a lot of effort, he received a commission in the Union Army as a colonel. In the peacetime Army, Sam had been a slightly above average officer. But in wartime, Sam proved himself to be exceptional. Within two months, he was a brigadier general.
Victory after victory elevated his stature, and in less than two years, he was a major general. Six months later, he became only the third lieutenant general in the nation’s history (the other two being George Washington and Winfield Scott). In less than a month, President Lincoln chose Sam to command all of the armies of the United States.
It was Sam who led the Union to their ultimate victory over the Confederacy, and Sam who accepted the Confederate surrender from Robert E. Lee. Sam later became the first General of the Army of the United States. And he was eventually elected President of the United States … twice.
You don’t remember anyone named Sam doing any of those things? That’s because you know Sam better by his official name – Ulysses S. Grant. Sam was just the nickname he picked up while a student at West Point.
The real point here is that Sam didn’t just climb the ranks because he knew someone. He was promoted because at every step, he excelled and succeeded. And that’s the point of today’s scripture.
The master gives each servant an amount of money, and he expects the servants to grow it. Two of them do, and they’re granted more responsibility. One simply buries it in the back yard. Merely watching the money wasn’t good enough for the master. He wanted the servant to do something positive with it.
That’s how God is with each of us. He gives us talents and responsibilities in life, and He expects us to do something with them – not merely act as caretakers. If you are good at music, He wants you to get better. If you’re a good writer, He wants you to keep writing and use your gift as much as possible. If you’re a good athlete, He wants you to get better and stronger and to be a winner if possible.
Why? One of the best witnesses we have as Christians is excellence. When we succeed, we bring credit to the One who made us, and whose name we proclaim. Merely being average does nothing for the Christian or for the Kingdom of God. The world only notes those who are exceptional, and so the Lord desires that we be exceptional for Him.
This week, make a list of the talents that God has given you, no matter how small. Start to plan how you will grow those talents for His kingdom, and pray that He will give you wisdom on how to accomplish that plan.
Reflection copyright © 2015 Doug DeBolt
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.