This week I am posting a speech I delivered at the May 3 graduation event at Wesley Institute in Sydney, Australia. IWU recently struck an agreement to acquire WI and work with them to create the first evangelical Christian university in Australia.
Here are three amazing facts that the Parable of the Talents suggests about our world.
Amazing Fact #1: The World is Full of Goodness
God has created a world in which goodness abounds. God is the source of this goodness. Goodness belongs to God.
It is not hard to imagine a world in which there is evil. This is unremarkable.
It is far harder to imagine a world full of goodness. But this is the kind of world that God has made and that God owns.
The master of this world has put a vast store of goodness at our disposal.
Amazing Fact #2: The World’s Goodness Can Be Multiplied
One of the most amazing aspects of this story is the insight it gives into the nature of the master’s wealth – it could be multiplied.
In fact, there was something about the master’s goods that suggested it was in their nature to be multiplied. When he left his wealth in the hands of his employees, he did not give them explicit instructions about what to do with it.
They discover this unique property inherent in the assets the master has handed them – the nature of the master’s wealth is that it can make more wealth.
There is something miraculous about this world’s goodness. It is not a zero-sum game.
When it is used, it is not used up.
In fact, when the goodness of this world is used it multiplies itself.
Here is one of the most amazing facts about the world as God has designed it. We live in a world in which goodness grows more goodness.
Amazing Fact #3: The World’s Goodness is Entrusted to Us
How does God fill the world with goodness?
I confess that I have often functioned on the implicit understanding that God is responsible to multiply goodness in this world. If good is spread throughout the world, it is up to God to do so directly through supernatural means.
Jesus’ story seems to suggest something different. God almost never directly intervenes in this life to create goodness.
Instead, Jesus’ story suggests that God entrusts the world’s goodness to us. If the goodness of this world is to be multiplied, it will be through us.
We are the agents through which goodness appears and is spread throughout this world.
If the world is to be filled with our master’s goodness, it will be done because we put the master’s goodness to good use.
If these are the amazing facts about the nature of our world, what are the principles we may follow to multiply the goodness of God in this world?
Principle #1: Use What’s in Your Account
The master made no value distinctions between his employees. He simply allocated his wealth according to the distinct and unique abilities of each employee.
Instead, they were evaluated on their faithfulness in putting to use what had been entrusted to them.
When he returned, his evaluation of the employee’s actions was not based on how much of his goods had been entrusted to them.
Jesus’ implication for his hearers is this: “And so it will be with you.”
Here is the first wise principle for multiplying the goodness of this world: Use what’s in your account.
The miracle of multiplied goodness does not depend on how much is in your account. It depends on how much what is in your account is put to us.
Instead of wishing for a different account, or waiting for others with a different account to show up, we are called simply to use what has been deposited into our account.
What goodness is in your account?
Some of us have been entrusted with money that we can use to provide opportunities for others to make more money.
Others of us have little money, but we have imagination, creativity, compassion, and the ability to work hard.
No matter what, use what is in your account and you will see God multiply goodness in the world around you.
Principle #2: Don’t Wait to be Great
I love what Jesus said about the first two employees – immediately they went out and put their master’s assets to work.
They didn’t wait to be great. They got right to work.
So often in life we tell ourselves that we will do something great when the circumstances are just right, when the risks are not so high, when we can see the return on our investment more clearly, when the need is really greatest, when we feel the motivation, when the brilliant idea will strike us.
All too often, we wait to be great.
Meanwhile the moments of life pass us by. Life slips away from us, and our store of goodness languishes in our account, unused and unmultiplied.
Don’t wait to be great. Seize the moment. Live in the day at hand. Pour your goodness out into the world’s neediness, even when it is risky.
This three-part series concludes on Friday.