verb (used with object), exhumed, exhuming.
1. to dig (something buried, especially a dead body) out of the earth; disinter.
2. to revive or restore after neglect or a period of forgetting; bring to light:
to exhume a literary reputation; to exhume old letters.
So, I joined my obstetrics professor’s Bible study today at SM Megamall. The topic was leadership, and the reference verse was the parable of the talents. We all know the story, right? What’s amazing about Bible studies is that, whenever we read through God’s word, we realize that we don’t actually know the story. We learn something new each time about ourselves, and more importantly, about God.
So in the account, the three servants were given different amounts of money, respectively. The first and second servants, given 5 and 2 talents respectively, worked hard and doubled their money; the third, given 1 talent, just buried his underground. Their boss celebrated the resourcefulness of the first two, while he fired the third servant and confiscated what he was given.
It should be worth considering that the money that one talent was worth 16 years worth of wages in the setting the parable was narrated.
The first question raised was, “What was the attitude of the first two servants? How did the first two servants approach their master?”
When they received their talents, each of the two took the immediate initiative to work and maximize what they were given. And when they presented to their master, each of them started off by humbly saying, “Master, you gave me…”, acknowledging the source of their talents. They returned their earnings to their master, acknowledging likewise that he was the source of what they were able to produce.
The master was fair and just, and when he received them, he did not respond by saying, “Why did you just earn 2 more? The first servant earned far more than you did!” Instead, he acknowledged each servant for what they were able to produce.
Another question was raised, “Why did the third servant bury his talent underground?” The story says that the servant gave the reason that he was afraid, thinking that his master would get mad at him if he lost what little he was given. He was afraid to take a risk to do what was necessary to make a profit for his master. And as the first two were rewarded for their drive to grow, he was punished for his fear and lack of initiative. He acted out of disrespect, fear, and selfishness.
It’s funny how both ‘humility’ and ‘humiliation’ are derived from the same word that means “earth”. The ones who did not bury their talents were the ones who were most humble. And likewise, the one who buried his talent was the one who was least humble and yet most humiliated.
Humility is acknowledging that what we have isn’t ours to begin with. It’s all God’s.
Are my talents my talents?
I drew several personal insights from reading this parable one more time. The first thing I would like to point out is that for the three, it was not their possession of talents that preceded their being servants. Rather, it was their being servants that preceded their being given talents. They were never instructed to grow something that they already owned. They were given something due to their being servants of the master in the first place.
They were his servants. They initiated. They acknowledged. They glorified.
God blesses us all with gifts and talents in this life. As Christians, we must understand that when we serve Him, it is never out of our own merit that we can please him. We understand that before all else, we are His servants, and hence He blesses us with things that we never truly own ourselves. Because He is our Lord, we are to manage everything in our life with full knowledge that these are not our own, but His resources for us to steward.
A good servant will use all resources towards the interests of their master. Likewise, by merit of Jesus being Lord of our life, we are to manage our blessings bearing in mind His commands for us. At the end of the day, our goal should be to honor Him.
To exhume what I have buried
When God blesses us, he does not tell us, “I want you to copy so-and-so. If you don’t then I will be so disappointed.” He wants us to be fruitful with whatever he gives us. He is faithful to bless us with whatever he knows we are capable of managing, and does not compare us with his other servants.
I am reminded of the disciple Simon-Peter’s jealousy towards the disciple John. A lot of times, we are envious of what God’s other servants are blessed with. More than that, we (I) tend to want so much of “the good things in life”. We demand from God. In wanting them so much, we forget about the good things that God has already given us. We forget that God blesses us with so much, with a jealousy that disrespectfully tells him, “You have not given me everything I need to make a good profit.” We are fearful that what He has given us is inadequate.
Resources, relationships, opportunities, status, these are all things we can want that are not bad in themselves. And it’s bad to ask these from God. But when we obsess too much over what we don’t have, we say that what God gives us is not enough. These things, more than God, become our god.
And in such, we bury our blessings deep
beneath all these fears and anxieties.
Something I need to remind myself everyday, God’s perfection completes my imperfection. I need to remind myself that God is my forever companion whenever I feel lonely. God is my power to accomplish His perfect will, whenever I feel inadequate. And whenever I remember, only then am I able to glorify Him.
I am not perfect. He is.
So I can truly live and move and live life to the fullest, if I can keep this truth to heart: that He is my solace in everything.