MONDAY // READ
“It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.
“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’
“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.
“‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’
TUESDAY // Love in Brilliance
We navigate life through a series of cautious or risky decisions. Everything we do is a gamble, every action a balance of risk and reward. Will a healthy lifestyle give us longer and better lives? Will a college degree help you obtain a higher-paying job? Are we making the most of our lives? This is an amazing question to be asked and reflected upon regularly—am I getting the most out of life, and am I giving the most into life? Life certainly consists of the give and take of risk, but life is about more than risk. We should not be about the end goal, but the stewardship of life itself in pressing on toward that goal.
There is a certain degree of caution we must carry into this life, and that degree is dependent upon the situation we find ourselves in. Should we go here, or spend that, or try this—these questions have very different meanings and answers for each person. There is no one-size-fits-all to life. Stewardship is not measured in dollars or successes, but is measured according to our abilities and our effort. Stewardship is not unlike this: it’s not about how much or how far or how long, rather it is built upon the effort spent to make the journey great. It is not, however, something that can be measured, as it is a matter of the heart. We should no more charge into life haphazardly than we should fearfully. Life, itself, is a balance of risk and reward. It takes conscious, intentional thought and willingness to be successful, to thrive. But we must not forget that thriving, as an output of stewardship, cannot be measured in how much or how far or how long. Many such paupers thrive while princes decay. There is but one “how” to measure the stewardship of life, and it is the only “how” God is interested in: how brilliantly have we loved?
We are redeemed not to fear life, or fear God, or fear this adventure. We are redeemed to make something more of ourselves, our lives, our experiences, our dreams. Our hearts are captured and captivated that we might become magnetic, that we might grow beyond ourselves. God has not commanded us to pursue success; neither has he commanded us to fear failure. Instead, God has commanded us to make the most of what he has given us, each according to our abilities. And should we do so, he entrusts us with more. We must not mistake this to be simply a lesson in wealth, however—God is not interested in our wealth, rather in the stewardship of our lives and our love. The only question that matters, the only way to measure stewardship by God’s design—how brilliantly have we loved?
WEDNESDAY // CHALLENGE
How do we define thriving? Is there a simple definition, or is it something unique and independent—something special to us? We cannot define thriving for another… we often cannot adequately define it for ourselves. What we determine to be our needs, our desires, our foundation, will be different for each person we meet. We are all unique, with individual needs, perspectives, goals and benchmarks. We define our lives uniquely, and we are uniquely Christ’s children. There is not one person that can define what thriving means for us, nor can we define what thriving means for another. We can presume and suppose, but we do not possess the empathy to truly understand contentment and thriving from another’s perspective.
With this in mind, why do we so often project onto others our own ideas of how they should be living? How they should be thriving? We do this, veiling our eyes to the reality of our neighbors and painting them with our own presumptions of who they are. We are intended, designed, to steward our lives and our relationships. We are meant not to play life safe, nor reckless, but to draw the most from it and love as brilliantly as we can.
Do we allow others to thrive in their own way?
Do we pity or judge others based on our perceptions of their lives?
What right have we to presume we know another person’s story?
Do we fear life—are we so terrified of what could be or how uncomfortable something might be that we don’t even allow it the opportunity to flourish?
What are we doing to steward our lives and our relationships?
THURSDAY // REFLECT
FRIDAY // THINK
One of our severest lessons comes from the stubborn refusal to see that we must not interfere in other people’s lives. It takes a long time to realize the danger of being an amateur providence, that is, interfering with God’s order for others. You see a certain person suffering, and you say – He shall not suffer, and I will see that he does not. You put your hand straight in front of God’s permissive will to prevent it, and God says – "What is that to thee?" If there is stagnation spiritually, never allow it to go on, but get into God’s presence and find out the reason for it. Possibly you will find it is because you have been interfering in the life of another; proposing things you had no right to propose; advising when you had no right to advise. When you do have to give advice to another, God will advise through you with the direct understanding of His Spirit; your part is to be so rightly related to God that His discernment comes through you all the time for the blessing of another soul. –Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Nov 15
Lord, teach us to find value in everything you create, in everything you give us. We want to better see our neighbors for who they are—as you created them to be. Help us understand their lives are their own, between they and you. Help us understand we are commanded to steward the lives and relationships you have given us. Guide our steps, Lord, that we would not take life recklessly, nor fearfully. amen.