Definitions: Ability is the quality of being able to do something; a natural or acquired skill or talent. Talent is a natural innate ability of a superior quality; to be gifted. (“Talent” was originally an ancient unit of weight and money. It made its way into modern English language in its present meaning in reference to the parable of talents told by Jesus in Matthew 25:14-30.)
1. The Lord has given us all certain natural abilities, gifts and talents to use in His service.
* Matthew 25:14,15 For the Kingdom of Heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several [own] ability; and straightway took his journey.
* Romans 12:6a Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.
* 1 Corinthians 12:4-7,11 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. … 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally [individually] as He will.
* James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from Above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
* 1 Peter 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
2. We must depend on the Lord, not just upon our ability or gifts.
* Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God.
* Psalm 84:5a,7a Blessed is the man whose strength is in Thee. … 7a They go from strength to strength.
* Psalm 105:4 Seek the Lord, and His strength: seek His face evermore.
* Psalm 118:8,9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. 9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
* John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from Heaven.
* 1 Corinthians 15:10 [Paul wrote:] But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
* 2 Corinthians 3:4,5 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.
* Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
* Colossians 3:11b Christ is all, and in all.
3. The Lord doesn’t usually look for natural ability in those He chooses to use.
* 1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
* Psalm 147:10,11 He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy.
* Isaiah 66:2b [The Lord values meekness and fear of God more than strength:] To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word.
* 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in His presence.
4. Without the Lord our natural abilities are nothing and will get us nowhere.
* 1 Samuel 2:9b By strength shall no man prevail.
* Psalm 39:5,6a Behold, Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before Thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. … 6a Surely every man walketh in a vain shew.
* Ecclesiastes 9:11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
* Jeremiah 10:23 O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
* John 15:5b Without Me ye can do nothing.
* 1 Corinthians 3:19-21a For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21a Therefore let no man glory in men.
5. Talent and natural ability often minister pride, and pride hinders our usefulness to the Lord.
* 1 Samuel 15:17,23b And Samuel said [to King Saul], When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? … 23b Because thou hast rejected the Word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being king.
* 2 Chronicles 26:5,15b,16a And he [16-year-old King Uzziah] sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper. … 15b And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. 16a But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction.
* Isaiah 10:13a,15 For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; … 15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.
* Ezekiel 28:11,12,17 Moreover the Word of the Lord came unto me [Ezekiel], saying, 12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. … 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
* Daniel 5:20 But when his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. [See also 4:30-37.]
* Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
* 1 Corinthians 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
6. The Lord cannot bless our efforts when we depend on ourselves and our natural abilities rather than upon Him.
* Leviticus 26:18-20a And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: 20a And your strength shall be spent in vain.
* Psalm 52:5-7 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, He shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah. 6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him: 7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.
* Jeremiah 17:5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.
* Hosea 10:13 Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
* 1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
7. For the Lord to be able to use our talents we must yield them to Him.
* Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
* Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
* 1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
* Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
8. Though we may have God-given gifts, we must apply ourselves to develop them.
* 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
* 2 Peter 1:4-8,10a Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience Godliness; 7 And to Godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. … 10a Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure. [See also Hebrews 6:11,12.]
9. Those with much in the natural must be all the more faithful to give God the glory.
* Psalm 34:1,2 I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
* Psalm 71:16 I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only.
* Psalm 115:1 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.
* Jeremiah 9:23,24 Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: 24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.
* 1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to Whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
[See also Motivation, #9, page 547.]
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