Ability, Responsibility, and Humility

By Irven Lee

Toward the end of our Lord’s time in the flesh He told of “a man who was traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey” (Matt. 25:14,15). You know the rest of the story. “After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them” (v. 19).

The distribution was according to the ability of each. The responsibility was according to this same ability. The one who was given the five talents was able to take proper care of the larger sum and was expected to earn more for his master. The money he used to invest belonged to his Lord and not to himself. His special ability was by the grace of God. He had nothing of which he could boast. “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?” (1 Cor. 4:7) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19,20). These facts are enough to cause us all to think soberly, and those with the five talents should do some very good thinking. There will be a day of judgment.

It may be embarrassing at times to be the one of very limited ability, but there are certain safeguards and compensations that come with this limitation. That which keeps us humble is good for us. “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility” (Prov. 15:33). “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better is it to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud” (Prov. 16:18,19). A very great amount of good that is done in this world is done by the less able who have the humility that comes before honor. Neither the Lord nor His saints give high rating to those who have a serious measure of “the pride of life” (vainglory) (1 John 2:16).

The man with the wonderful intellect and a powerful body may be a bit like the miser. The miser may sit and count his money. The man who could be the five talent man may enjoy the thoughts of his greatness. He may constantly hurt those he scorns because of their lesser strength and lower intelligence quotient. He will not help those who think he is a bully or an egotist. Did you ever hear a man confess being an egotist? The strong men who would take time to lend a hand to the cripple is truly strong. The intellectual man who can patiently aid the retarded is the wise man. He who would scorn either is sick.

Count your blessings and give thanks, and do not forget to pray that you not under estimate your responsibility. This unbelieving and confused world is in great need of five talent men with their feet on the ground and who have tender hearts. Great men appreciate goodness. A good elder is a lover of good men or of good things (Tit. 1:8). Such men know how to look up to others (Phil. 2: 1 -11). The man who can only look down on others is to be pitied. He needs help.

The Christ was in the beginning with God. He had more insight than Einstein and more physical strength than Samson, but He lived as the meek and lowly Nazarene. He took a special interest in the poor and outcasts. He demonstrated His power over nature that He might demonstrate His divinity to strengthen their faith, but not for boasting or to embarrass the humble. He spoke the language of the common people. The lamb is used to identify His nature even though He is now the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5). Our Savior taught humility by precept and by example. He appreciated the open hearts of the lowly more by far than He did the scholarship and pride of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 13:15,16).

None is condemned for lack of ability even in the matter of giving (Mark 12:41-44; 2 Cor. 8:12). The emphasis in the Scriptures is upon such fruits as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22). Those who are to be on the right hand of the great Shepherd are those who do the Father’s will (Matt. 4:21; 25:31-46).

So much of the world’s work is done by the average men. The giants box, play ball, lift weights, and reach the end of life at a younger age than the average men who do the world’s work. It is wonderful to see the strong and intelligent demonstrate that they are truly five talent men by earning five more talents. They will hear the Master say: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21). Let those with special ability learn to realize their responsibility and let them walk humbly with their God.

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 8, p. 229
April 19, 1984