You know the feeling. That realization that someone around you is much better at something you’re only moderately good at. Thanks to social media, we get to experience this feeling on a very regular basis. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter give us all the opportunity to present the accomplished and impressive parts of our lives while conveniently ignoring those bits about us that are less than flattering.
However, it works both ways. All of the other people on our feeds are doing the exact same thing.
But even without social media, there’s always that temptation to comparison, that urge to look at what your neighbor has, to peer over his fence and admire his stunningly lush grass, aware that the green under your feet is mostly of the weed variety.
Jesus tells us a parable in Matthew 25. You know this one. It’s the one about the talents. The master who gave his three servants some money before he went on a journey. There was the fellow who got five talents, the fellow who got two, and the fellow who got one. And, as you know, the man with five talents invested wisely and made five more. The man with two talents also invested wisely and made two more. But the man with one talent hid it away.
When I was growing up and hearing this story in Sunday School, the focus was always on the one-talent guy, the one who did not steward his one talent well and was duly punished for it. He saw his one talent given to the one who had stewarded his five talents well and ended up with ten.
When I was young, I thought the talents referred to actual talents, the individual abilities and giftings we all have in different measure. Of course, it is in fact a monetary amount but I never was able to shake the idea that the talents mean our actual talents.
This point was brought home to me a few months ago as I was comparing my abilities to do something to someone else’s ability to do that same thing better than me. (Word to the wise – don’t do that.) And I described them as a “ten-talent person” and myself as the “four-talent person.” Have you ever stopped to consider this guy? He gets less talents to start off with and then when One Talent Man screws up, it’s Ten Talent Man who gets another talent! It seemed rather unfair to me.
But the more I thought about it, the more I can see God’s grace to us four-talent folks. Do you see what the master says to him? “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Those are the exact same words he said to Ten Talent Man.
I may not have all the talents of Ten Talent Man, but I do have some talents. I have the ability to be faithful in the little things. And I have hope for when I see the Master face to face, hope to hear the “Well done,” and hope to glorify Him in the small things so that someday I can glorify Him with much.
So I will keep working with my two little talents, watching them become four, waiting for the day when my faithfulness translates into joy.
If you know someone who struggles with comparing himself/herself to other people, will you email them this post?
Photo credit: Jamie Henderson