This article looks at our gifts and work in the kingdom of God.

Source: Clarion, 1990. 2 pages.


In some parts of the country, unemployment is still a big problem. People have skills and training and the willingness to work, but because of overall economic conditions cannot find a good position. It's sad to hear about such situations. But in my opinion it is even sadder when employers look for workers with certain skills only to find that there are none available. In this case, there is plenty of work but no workers. And that is bad news, since economic life cannot thrive without skilled workers.

I wonder if the Lord Jesus Christ ever feels like the employer I've just described. There is never a shortage of jobs in His workplace. But there does often seem to be a shortage of workers. And the workers who are present frequently seem to have attitude problems. All they can think about is quitting time.

Of course, I realize that most of us do have work of one kind or another. We have jobs to go to, we have assignments to complete and so on. Many of us find our work in the classroom. But the question I would like to ask is: Do we have the right kind of employment? Or: Are we perhaps underemployed? Are we working in the way we should and for the right goal?

What we should strive for is the fulfillment of our potential. Maybe you think that sounds a little pagan. After all, don't we have to resist the human potential movement which glorifies human possibilities and virtually defies mankind? Yes, it is true that we must oppose all forms of humanism.

But still, I argue that we should seek the fulfillment of our potential. We should make sure that we are not underemployed. Specifically, we should take a close look at ourselves in order to find out whether we are using all the gifts which God has given us to their fullest potential.

After all, everything we have and everything we are belongs to God. He is the Owner of our bodies and souls and wills and minds. Yes, a basic fact for Christian life is that God owns our time, our talents, our money, our energy. And He owns all these things all the time – not just when we are over the hill.

Because we belong to God, we are called to serve Him with everything He has given. Yes, of course, the good Lord wants you to enjoy yourselves, too. But happiness and true joy are found along the way of dedicating yourself to God. We find the enjoyment of life only as we throw ourselves into the service of our one Great King who has blessed us with so many gifts.

God expects that we put to use the gifts which He has given, that we employ them to the fullest. By gifts I mean everything which you have and are. I mean your natural abilities; I mean the opportunities which come your way; I mean the knowledge of the Gospel which is in your heart; I mean your energy, your health and strength. The gifts of God include the time you spend in the classroom and in the workplace. They include the money you might possess and other resources under your control.

God has indeed entrusted a great deal to us. But with this trust comes responsibility. We are called to administer His gifts, to manage them in the best possible way so that the glory of the Giver is magnified. We are gifted so that we might become workers, seeking the Kingdom of the Lord.

Yes, we immerse ourselves in the activities and projects of the Kingdom of God because with our gifts we are called to be co-workers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The capital entrusted to us by the Lord (our gifts) should be put to work so that it can be returned to Him with great increase.

But all too often people look at their gifts in a self-centered manner. For them the goal of life is maximum personal pleasure and satisfaction. They do indeed use their abilities but only for the sake of improving themselves. The idea that self-improvement is the main goal of life is taken for granted by nearly everyone, but it is not Biblical. God says that we must first seek the Kingdom of God. We must first build the house of the Lord.

This implies that when we are young we should take a careful look at ourselves and at the opportunities for service in the Kingdom of God. For example, consider the well-known fact that we need ministers and teachers. Is it not shameful that over a period of thirty or more years, some very large Canadian Reformed congregations have never produced even one student for the ministry? Of course, this office is by no means the only way that a young man can serve the Lord with his gifts. But it is a primary way. If the gifts are present, the ministry should always be considered. And where are the youthful volunteers for the work of Mission, outreach, visitation and so on?

Every young person should assess him or herself. What has God given to me? What needs are present? How can I serve the Church of Christ? How can I best be a co-worker of Jesus Christ? How can Christ get the best possible return on the gifts He has entrusted to me? If you see various possibilities open to yourself, and are not sure which one to follow, ask yourself: how can I best serve?

At the very least, faithfulness to Jesus Christ, the Giver of all gifts, should motivate us to work very hard in the classroom. After all, He will hold us accountable for the way we have developed and used His capital. He wants us to develop our abilities, to maximize our Kingdom potential. Laziness should be seen as the worst of vices. Leisure and entertainment are always secondary in Christian life. After all, didn't God say, “Six days shall you labour?”

The root of the underemployment problem in the Kingdom of God goes back to youth. Whether consciously or not, young people often treat their youth as a period of time set aside for self-indulgence. They waste their years in high school, believing that nothing important happens until Friday afternoon. After all, they have a part-time job which allows them to have a pretty good lifestyle. Who needs school? Why should we be worried about the future? What counts is how I feel now – whether or not I'm popular and have a good time.

But then, a few years later, when these same people are twenty-one or twenty-four years old, they find themselves trapped. They have a job. They can earn some kind of a living. But they are underemployed. They could do more. They could fulfill a calling more suited to their abilities. But now they have a family. They have financial constraints. Sure, sometimes they can still make changes in their work lives – but only with a lot of hardship. And many simply won't find an opportunity for change at all.

Not only do they suffer personal consequences for the apathy of their youth, but they also deprive the Kingdom of God of their fully ripened gifts. Many people in the Church of Jesus Christ are underemployed because they failed to work hard when they were young.

This may sound pretty serious and possibly even depressing. Only work? Is that all there is to life? No, but it is the primary way we are called to spend our time. And what's more, only as we faithfully work do we really enjoy life. A self-centered, entertainment-based life is not satisfying at all.

Yes, God wants us to maximize our potential. He does not want us to be underemployed by simply seeking an easy life or by going the way of least resistance. Instead, God is seriously displeased when we conceal our gifts, waste our time or work only for ourselves. His calling for us is: work for Me! This means doing the best you can. It means developing yourself so that your gifts can be useful.

God says to us: I have a people. Serve them! I have a cause. Work for it! I have a church. Love it! You are here to do my work. That's why I have gifted you.

The gifts may differ. One serves God in the ministry. Another is called to be a missionary. Others serve the Lord in offering reliable services to their fellow creatures by way of building houses, cleaning furnaces, looking after small children and so on. We serve God in family life, by ensuring that our families are holy communities. We serve God by living before unbelievers as true light and salt.

We are awaiting people. We wait and watch for the Lord Jesus Christ. But this waiting period must be characterized by working. For Jesus Christ is coming again and He will personally assess the quality of our endeavours. And the question He will ask will be something like this: what did you pursue in your earthly days – a life of ease and self-indulgence or My Kingdom?

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