Idleness keeps us from using all our potential for God’s glory. So far we’ve looked at how we should use our bodies and our minds for ministry and growth. We can be the hands and feet of Christ through service and we need to constantly be developing our knowledge of the Bible so we can draw closer to him and share his truth more effectively. What about our other resources? What else do we have to offer our God in service?
The next idea I want you to consider that may be sitting idle is your talent. Don’t be bashful or too humble; we all have something that we love to do and are good at. I bragged earlier in this series at my father being an excellent mechanic and that he gets joy from doing that kind of work. I have seen teenagers in our youth group that love working with young children and are excellent babysitters. Or perhaps you are a great cook and get great joy out of making a meal for others.
Whatever talent you have that you love to use, we all have them. Earlier this year we examined the concept that God wants us to use our time, talents, and resources to serve others and give him glory. So it isn’t new news that we should be serving others with our talents. But what are we doing to hone our talents and make them better? If we are using them to serve God shouldn’t we be the best we can at what we do so that we can give God our best?
Here’s an example: as a musician I love to play and sing with others (and by myself) to God and give him praise through music. I lead the worship time at our Church gatherings and it brings me great joy to see others join in and praise God. As a younger musician I actually would walk around the house with my guitar practicing every time I sat down. However, as I got better at the guitar and other things in life stepped in I spent less and less time practicing. I was content to just show up on Sundays and Wednesdays and play on the spot without any serious practice.
To be honest, no one ever knew. I had gotten “good enough” to just show up and play. But I was no longer giving God my best. I was giving him my leftovers. God wants more than that from us. In fact, God wants the very best of what we have. That’s what the idea of the tithe was all about in the first place. God wanted our first fruits, our very best. God didn’t need an animal sacrifice, he doesn’t eat! What God wanted was for his people to realize that everything they had come from him and they should be willing to give everything to him in their lives.
With this in mind I want us to examine a passage that deals with this very concept. Let’s examine Malachi chapter 1. As per usual, I want us to read the entire chapter before looking at specific purposes. The context of this chapter (and entire book) is that Israel has ceased to give God their very best. They were going through the motions but their hearts were not in it. This obviously made God upset with them. Check out these verses:
Malachi 1 (NLT):
 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name!
“But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’
 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar.
“Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’
“You defile them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect.  When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
 “Go ahead, beg God to be merciful to you! But when you bring that kind of offering, why should he show you any favor at all?” asks the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
God was very upset with his people because they no longer served him with their whole heart. The end result was that God’s spirit left their presence and did not return for four and a half centuries when Jesus came. While this passage is descriptive (it gives us information) and not prescriptive (it tells us what to do) we can still take away how serious God is with our devotion to him. All throughout the Bible God tells of his great love for us and his great jealousy when we put something in front of his in our lives.
Our talents are the same in this situation. We have been given them by God and so we should offer them back to him as a sacrifice of praise. We do not go to a temple because we are God’s temple now. Our bodies are where his Spirit lives. But God still wants the best from us. He wants us to take the time to bring the very best of our lives and serve him with it.
Where does this find you today? Do you, like my guitar playing, need to spend more time practicing? Do you need to hone your skills more in your area of service? Maybe you need to offer your talents up as an opportunity for ministry for the first time. You could be a huge blessing in someone’s life that needs you. If you cook, serve those who need a meal. If you can mow grass, mow someone else’s lawn that needs it. You get the idea; let’s be God’s hands and feet!