The difference between a gift and a talent is only this: on a talent, you owe a tithe; for a gift, you owe everything.
Use it or lose it! We didn’t invent the phrase. It’s been around for generations, maybe for millenia.
My Grandfather, though I never knew him to lift a weight or go for a jog, applies the adage to a quite familiar, but hard to swallow, parable which concludes…
I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence. (Luke 19:26-27)
This is Luke’s version of the parable of the talents. A nobleman (who is disliked) has gone away to gain a Kingship, leaving his slaves to trade with the 10 pounds he’s provided during his absence. Upon his return he finds that some have made more with their pound. To them, he gives more. Some have made a bit less, so they get less. But at least one poor timid soul has hidden the pound away. He gets his reward, and it’s ugly.
“Struggle with it as we will,” Dr. Rilling offers, “Jesus here states a law of life that is as unbreakable as the law of gravity: “Use it or lose it!” There is no third possibility.”
I’m even hearing echos of Yoda: ‘Do or don’t do. There is no try.’
But wait a minute! Let’s not be so hasty and rush to the what we’ll get if we squander a bit here and there part. Surely, at the end of the day, all will be forgiven and the Master will relent and pay everyone the same. But no. Use it or lose it, apparently, applied even back then.
And this, I’ll admit, rings very true with my experience now. We use our muscles or they atrophy; we use our brain cells or they self-select away; we use our gifts or they rust. The human condition itself speaks ‘use it or lose it.’
Thus, for our good, the Father says, “This that I press into the palm of your hand is meant to be used. No need to compare with others because what I have given them is meant for them. This is for you. Go and be fruitful with it.
When I come back, you can tell me all about your exploits. Just you and me, a little Daddy-daughter time. Okay?”
So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)