Honor Creator by investing gift of life

As I step across the threshold of the calendar into the New Year, I am reminded of two principles: Life is a gift, and happiness is a choice!

I am convinced that if everyone would actively adopt those two principles, this coming year could be the best we have experienced.

I had no choice as to when and how I came into this world, and I probably will have few options about when and how I will leave it. Even though there are times when I have felt quite sovereign, there are many reminders that I am a steward of the gift of life and health--given to me by a gracious God.

Within the boundaries of this gift, God has also granted me some freedom of choice that allows me to either invest or squander this endowment.

It is amazing how quickly and easily we adopt the notion that our life is our own, and no one has the right to tell us what to do. That idea sounds reasonable to philosophers of human achievement, but serious reflection upon the Scriptures dictates otherwise.

In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus told a parable about a "nobleman" who gave each of his 10 servants a "mina" (worth about three months' salary) and asked them to invest this gift while he went on a long journey. When he returned, he called them to accountability, and some reported a greater investment than their fellows who were given the same opportunity.

It illustrated that everyone has been given an equal gift of life from God. Some people invest this gift and bring a blessing back to the Creator. Others carelessly handle or selfishly guard it as their own.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus referred to a lord who was making preparations for a long journey, and gave his three servants different amounts of his wealth to be used and invested at their individual discretion. The lord knew their individual abilities, so he gave one man five talents, another received two, and the third was given one.

Once again, when the master returned, the servants brought him different results from their investment of his wealth.

I interpret the first story to be an illustration of how everyone has been given the equal gift of life from the Creator, and are endowed with the freedom of choie to invest, enjoy this endowment or selfishly squander such a privilege.

In the second, Jesus illustrated the fact that we are not all gifted equally, but we all have the same opportunity to bless the Giver. While the level of giftedness is the Master's, the choice of investment in other people is ours.

If life and health is indeed a gift of God, then it behooves me to live gratefully, appreciating family, friends, job opportunities, finances, spritual forgiveness and tranquility. I should also live carefully and prayerfully, humbly seeking guidance and wisdom, because I have not been this far in life before. I must develop the attitude that I need God and other people.

If the parable of the talents demonstrates our personal giftedness, then I should be content with the interests and abilities of my natural endowment and seek to hone those skills with the view that some other person will need my contribution. I should not waste time comparing and competing with others, but be comfortable with the role the Creator has ordained for me.

Where should I invest these gifts given by the Creator and where will they increase in value? A third parable answered those questions--in Matthew 25:31-46. The more I use my life and particular skills to bless other people, the more meaningful my own existence will become!

You and I have the choice to live life as a gift from God to be invested in the lives of other people, or wrap it in the napkin of selfishness.

But selfishness becomes a prison. For a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.