1. GOD’S GIFTS
a. What does the Lord Himself give to every Christian steward? 1 Corinthians 12:8–11.
“The talents that Christ entrusts to His church represent especially the gifts and blessings imparted by the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 12:8–11 quoted.] All men do not receive the same gifts, but to every servant of the Master some gift of the Spirit is promised.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 327.
b. What does the Giver expect from His stewards? Luke 19:23.
“God bestows various talents and gifts upon men, not that they may lie useless, nor that they may be employed in amusements or selfish gratification, but that they may be a blessing to others by enabling men to do earnest, self-sacrificing missionary work. God grants man time for the purpose of promoting His glory.”—The Youth’s Instructor, November 6, 1902.
“Our heavenly Father requires no more nor less than He has given us ability to do. He lays upon His servants no burdens that they are not able to bear. ‘He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust’ (Psalm 103:14). All that He claims from us we through divine grace can render.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 362.
2. DEVELOPING YOUR TALENTS (I)
a. How should Christian stewards discover, develop, and use their talents? Proverbs 1:7; 2:3–9; James 1:5.
“Many apparently unpromising youth are richly endowed with talents that are put to no use. Their faculties lie hidden because of a lack of discernment on the part of their educators. In many a boy or girl outwardly as unattractive as a rough-hewn stone, may be found precious material that will stand the test of heat and storm and pressure. The true educator, keeping in view what his pupils may become, will recognize the value of the material upon which he is working.”—Education, p. 232.
“God has a great work to be done in a short time. He has committed to the young talents of intellect, time, and means, and He holds them responsible for the use they make of these good gifts. He calls upon them to come to the front, to resist the corrupting, bewitching influences of this fast age, and to become qualified to labor in His cause. They cannot become fitted for usefulness without putting heart and energy into the work of preparation.”—The Youth’s Instructor, May 7, 1884.
“If with a humble heart you seek divine guidance in every trouble and perplexity, His word is pledged that a gracious answer will be given you. And His word can never fail. Heaven and earth may pass away, but His word will never pass away. Trust in the Lord, and you will never be confounded or ashamed.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 427.
b. How are the talents of the Christian steward increased? 2 Corinthians 9:6.
“Talents used are talents multiplied. Success is not the result of chance or of destiny; it is the outworking of God’s own providence, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and persevering effort. The Lord desires us to use every gift we have; and if we do this, we shall have greater gifts to use.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 353.
“Some of the youth have been diligent and persevering, and they are now making their mark and are occupying important positions in the cause of God. We often hear persons speak of the talents and ability of these youth as though God had bestowed upon them special gifts; but this is a mistake. It is the use we make of the talents given us that makes us strong. There are many who might be well qualified to engage in the work of the Lord, who fail to improve upon the ability God has given them.”—The Review and Herald, March 25, 1880.
3. DEVELOPING YOUR TALENTS (II)
a. What should be understood by those who feel that they have the least amount of talent? Luke 19:20–24.
“Many of the youth repine because they have not ability to do some large work, and they covet talents by which they might do some wonderful things; but while they are spending their time in vain desires, they are making a failure of life. They are overlooking opportunities which they might improve in doing deeds of love in the path of life in which their feet are set.”—The Youth’s Instructor, March 2, 1893.
b. How does the Lord evaluate the use of our talents? 2 Corinthians 5:10; Luke 12:47, 48.
“When the Lord takes account of His servants, the return from every talent will be scrutinized. The work done reveals the character of the worker.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 360.
“Those who might have exerted an influence to save souls had they stood in the counsel of God, yet failed to do their duty through selfishness, indolence, or because they were ashamed of the cross of Christ, will not only lose their own souls, but will have the blood of poor sinners upon their garments. Such will be required to render an account for the good that they could have done had they been consecrated to God, but did not do because of their unfaithfulness. Those who have really tasted the sweets of redeeming love will not, cannot, rest until all with whom they associate are made acquainted with the plan of salvation.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 511.
“We shall individually be held responsible for doing one jot less than we have ability to do. The Lord measures with exactness every possibility for service. The unused capabilities are as much brought into account as are those that are improved. For all that we might become through the right use of our talents God holds us responsible. We shall be judged according to what we ought to have done, but did not accomplish because we did not use our powers to glorify God. Even if we do not lose our souls, we shall realize in eternity the result of our unused talents. For all the knowledge and ability that we might have gained and did not, there will be an eternal loss.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 363.
4. INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY
a. What are some of the talents the Christian steward should cultivate, and why? 1 John 2:14; Romans 15:1.
“The special gifts of the Spirit are not the only talents represented in the parable [of the talents (Matthew 25:13–32)]. It includes all gifts and endowments, whether original or acquired, natural or spiritual. All are to be employed in Christ’s service. In becoming His disciples, we surrender ourselves to Him with all that we are and have. These gifts He returns to us purified and ennobled, to be used for His glory in blessing our fellowmen.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 328.
“The power of speech is a talent that should be diligently cultivated. Of all the gifts we have received from God, none is capable of being a greater blessing than this. With the voice we convince and persuade, with it we offer prayer and praise to God, and with it we tell others of the Redeemer’s love. How important, then, that it be so trained as to be most effective for good.”—Ibid., p. 335.
“Our time belongs to God. Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time.
“The value of time is beyond computation. Christ regarded every moment as precious, and it is thus that we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity.”—Ibid., p. 342.
“Parents should teach their children the value and right use of time. Teach them that to do something which will honor God and bless humanity is worth striving for. Even in their early years they can be missionaries for God.”—Ibid., p. 345.
“God also entrusts men with means. He gives them power to get wealth. He waters the earth with the dews of heaven and with the showers of refreshing rain. He gives the sunlight, which warms the earth, awakening to life the things of nature and causing them to flourish and bear fruit. And He asks for a return of His own.”—Ibid., p. 351.
“Our money has not been given us that we might honor and glorify ourselves. As faithful stewards we are to use it for the honor and glory of God. Some think that only a portion of their means is the Lord’s. When they have set apart a portion for religious and charitable purposes, they regard the remainder as their own, to be used as they see fit. But in this they mistake. All we possess is the Lord’s, and we are accountable to Him for the use we make of it. In the use of every penny it will be seen whether we love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves.”—Messages to Young People, p. 310.
5. STEWARDS FOR THE KINGDOM
a. What should be the energetic focus of all our various talents? Philippians 3:7–14.
“You are a spectacle unto the world, to angels, and to men. . . . Make the most of the golden moments, putting to use the talents God has given, that you may accumulate something for the Master and be a blessing to all around you. Let the heavenly angels look down with joy upon you because you are loyal and true to Jesus Christ.”—The Youth’s Instructor, July 12, 1894.
“It is the wise improvement of your opportunities, the cultivation of your God-given talents, that will make you men and women that can be approved of God, and a blessing to society. Let your standard be high, and with indomitable energy, make the most of your talents and opportunities, and press to the mark.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 87.
“Are you going to give yourselves to the Lord? Are you ready to engage in the work He has left you to do? Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature’ [Mark 16:15]. In the face of this command, will you appropriate your time and your energies as inclination may dictate, instead of following the counsel of God?”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 273.
“Here, in this world, in these last days, persons will show what power affects their hearts and controls their actions. If it is the power of divine truth, it will lead to good works. . . .
“Young and old, God is now testing you. You are deciding your own eternal destiny.”—Maranatha, p. 43.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can specific talents best be cultivated for the Master?
2. How does the church benefit from careful stewardship of our talents?
3. What should I, personally, be considering more seriously about those talents entrusted to me individually?
4. What must I realize about my accountability before God for my talents?
5. Describe the responsibility of all Christians, regardless of age or ability.