I know I’ve admitted this before, but in case you’re tuning in late: Yes, I’m a comic-book geek. I’m a big fan of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the X-men, the Fantastic Four, etc. And of course one of my favorites is Spider-man.
One of the reasons I like them so much is because of the underlying message for all of them. If you’ve been given special abilities, you need to use those gifts to help others and fight for what’s right, especially in standing up for those who can't defend themselves. If you’re a fan of Spider-man (or have seen the movies), you know the slogan I’m going to bring up here: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Of course the writers of comic books mostly aren’t Christians (or even theists), so I always feel like asking them “Great responsibility to whom or to what?” You can’t just be responsible to yourself. You have to be responsible (or accountable) to something or someone higher than yourself.
That’s where today’s passage comes in. The Bible’s clear that there’s one Person who has given us all our skills, innate talents, and abilities. Actually, strictly speaking he hasn’t “given” them to us, in the common sense of that word. When we say someone has “given” me something, it’s mine to A) keep and B) do with as I please. There’s absolutely nothing that God has given us which qualifies.
You might be thinking “Well Keith, you believe that you can’t lose your salvation. Are you going back on that by saying that it’s not mine to keep?” Nothing doing. No, you can’t lose your salvation. But you’re not supposed to keep it to yourself. You’re supposed to spread it around!
That’s the closest thing to an exception that I can think of. Every penny he’s “given” me, every talent/spiritual gift, every relationship, and every other resource he’s made available to me will have to be given back to him someday. I won’t get to keep any of it.
Also I need to remember that everything that God has given me will be the subject of a conversation I’m going to have with him someday. He’s going to point to X and ask “Keith, I provided you with X, so what did you do with it?” That’s what I mean when I say that he’s going to hold us accountable for what we do with what he’s given us.
Now let’s get to the specific gift Jesus is talking about in today’s passage, namely spiritual truth. The Lord Jesus had revealed things to his disciples that no other human had ever seen or heard. And the end result of this would be that they were to shout it from the housetops. A candle does no good under a bed.
And here’s the main point of what I’ve been leading up to. You need to “consider carefully how you listen.” Notice the warning presented right after that verse. If you put your “light” under the bed, if you fail to broadcast what God has revealed to you, then what you have will be taken away. This isn’t referring to your salvation, but to your effectiveness.
Why are so many of the mainline denominations falling away from the truth? Well, my pet theory is because they didn’t put a priority on evangelism and missions. Jesus told us“Go and make disciples of all nations. . . teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” and they stopped listening. And whatever connection they had with God’s truth was eventually lost.
If that doesn’t sober you regarding the state of the church in America, it should. America has—for a very very long time—been the vanguard for missions and evangelism. That’s changing. And if we continue to get distracted from that focus, we’re going to discover what little we had is now lost.
Lord Jesus, please put fire within our souls, a passion for reclaiming lost souls and seeing them become your followers. And let that start right here and now with me.