The Signs of the Times


July 2, 1902

Our Talents


Christ's followers have been redeemed for service. Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service,—service to God and to their fellow-men. Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link that binds us to God and to our fellow-men. ST July 2, 1902, par. 1

To His servants, Christ commits “His goods,”—something to be put to use for Him. He gives to every man His work, each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God. ST July 2, 1902, par. 2

To every man God has given talents, “according to his several ability.” The talents are not apportioned capriciously. He who has ability to use five talents receives five. He who can improve but two, receives two. He who can wisely use only one, receives one. None need lament that they have not received larger gifts; for He who has apportioned to every man is equally honored by the improvement of each trust, whether it be great or small. The one to whom five talents have been committed is to render the improvement of five; he who has but one, the improvement of one. God expects returns “according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” ST July 2, 1902, par. 3

The Power of Speech is a talent that should be diligently cultivated. Of all the gifts we have received from God, none is capable of being a greater blessing than this. With the voice we convince and persuade; with it we offer praise and prayer to God; and with it we tell others of the Redeemer's love. Not one word is to be spoken unadvisedly. No evil-speaking, no frivolous talk, no fretful repining or impure suggestions, will escape the lips of him who is following Christ. The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” A corrupt communication does not mean only words that are vile. It means any expression contrary to holy principles and pure and undefiled religion. It includes impure hints and covert suggestions of evil. Unless instantly resisted, these lead to great sin. ST July 2, 1902, par. 4

Upon every family, upon every individual Christian, is laid the duty of barring the way against corrupt speech. When in the company of those who indulge in foolish talk, it is our duty to change the subject of conversation if possible. By the help of the grace of God, we should try to drop words or introduce a subject that will turn the conversation into a profitable channel. ST July 2, 1902, par. 5

Our words should be words of praise and thanksgiving. If the mind and heart are full of the love of God, this will be revealed in the conversation. It will not be a difficult matter to impart that which enters into our spiritual life. Great thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, unselfish purposes, yearnings for piety and holiness, will bear fruit in words that reveal the character of the heart-treasure. When Christ is thus revealed in our speech, it will have a power in winning souls to Him. ST July 2, 1902, par. 6

We Should Speak of Christ to those who know Him not. We should do as Christ did. Wherever He was, in the synagogue, by the wayside, in the boat thrust out a little from the land, at the Pharisee's feast or the table of the publican, He spoke to men of the things pertaining to the higher life. The things of nature, the events of daily life, were bound up by Him with the words of truth. The hearts of His hearers were drawn to Him; for He had healed their sick, had comforted their sorrowing ones, and had taken their children in His arms and blessed them. When He opened His lips to speak, their attention was riveted upon Him, and every word was to some soul a savor of life unto life. ST July 2, 1902, par. 7

So it should be with us. Wherever we are, we should watch for opportunities to speak to others of the Saviour. If we follow Christ's example in doing good, hearts will open to us as they did to Him. Not abruptly, but with tact born of divine love, we can tell them of Him who is the “chiefest among ten thousand” and the One “altogether lovely.” This is the very highest work in which we can employ the talent of speech. It was given us that we might present Christ as the sin-pardoning Saviour. ST July 2, 1902, par. 8

Influence Is a Talent

Through Christ, God has invested man with an influence that makes it impossible for him to live to himself. Individually we are connected with our fellow-men, a part of God's great whole, and we stand under mutual obligations. No man can be independent of his fellow-men; for the well-being of each affects others. It is God's purpose that each shall feel himself necessary to others’ welfare, and seek to promote their happiness. ST July 2, 1902, par. 9

Every soul is surrounded with an atmosphere of its own,—an atmosphere, it may be, charged with the life-giving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and chill with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of cherished sin. ST July 2, 1902, par. 10

By the atmosphere surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact is consciously or unconsciously affected. This is a responsibility from which we can not free ourselves. Our words, our acts, our dress, our deportment, even the expression of the countenance has an influence that no man can measure. Every impulse thus imparted is a seed sown that will produce its harvest. It is a link in the long chain of human events, extending we know not whither. If by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good; in their turn they exert the same influence upon others, and they upon still others. Thus by our unconscious influence thousands may be blessed. ST July 2, 1902, par. 11

Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed, then another; and another; and as they increase, the circle widens until it reaches the very shore. So with our influence. Beyond our knowledge or control, it tells upon others in blessing or in cursing. ST July 2, 1902, par. 12

Our Time Belongs to God

Every moment is His, and we are under the most solemn obligation to improve it to His glory. Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time. ST July 2, 1902, par. 13

Every moment is freighted with eternal consequences. We are to stand as minute-men, ready for service at a moment's notice. The opportunity that is now ours to speak to some needy soul the word of life may never offer again. God may say to that one, “This night thy soul shall be required of thee,” and through our neglect he may not be ready. In the great judgment-day, how shall we render our account to God? ST July 2, 1902, par. 14

Christ regarded every moment as precious, and thus we should regard it. Life is too short to be trifled away. We have but a few days of probation in which to prepare for eternity. We have no time to waste, no time to devote to selfish pleasure, no time for the indulgence of sin. It is now that we are to form characters for the future, immortal life. It is now that we are to prepare for the searching judgment. ST July 2, 1902, par. 15

Talents Used Are Talents Multiplied

Success is not the result of chance or of destiny; it is the outworking of God's own providence, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and persevering effort. The Lord desires us to use every gift we have; and if we do this, we shall have greater gifts to use. He does not supernaturally endow us with the qualifications we lack; but while we use that which we have, He will work with us to increase and strengthen every faculty. By every whole-hearted, earnest sacrifice for the Master's service our power will increase. While we yield ourselves as instruments for the Holy Spirit's working, the grace of God works in us to deny old inclinations, to overcome powerful propensities, and to form new habits. As we cherish and obey the promptings of the Spirit, our hearts are enlarged to receive more and more of His power, and to do more and better work. Dormant energies are roused, and palsied faculties receive new life: ST July 2, 1902, par. 16

The man who received the one talent “went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.” Just what he did, many today are doing. But let them not think that when Christ comes to reckon with His servants, He will be satisfied with the return of that only which was given. He will call for His own “with usury.” The Lord expects every one to increase His gifts. Every provision has been made for us to do this. He who does not improve his talents is regarded by the Lord as a slothful, untrustworthy servant, unworthy of admittance into the heavenly courts. ST July 2, 1902, par. 17

The denunciations of God are not confined to the most revolting sins. In the day of judgment special reference will be made to the neglect of doing what might have been done, but was not done because of a lack of the qualification Christ died to place within the reach of every one. ST July 2, 1902, par. 18

Take the case of one who claims to know Christ, but who allows self-seeking to hold the largest place in his life. Busied with the things of self, he forgets God. He fails of improving his talents, and thus disqualifies himself for the sphere of usefulness he might have filled. Through his unfaithfulness, souls are lost. He has disappointed his Master. Upon him must fall the penalty of failing to fulfil God's purpose. God holds him responsible for the evil resulting from his neglect, for the souls he might have saved had he been faithful to his trust. Every hour spent in careless inaction, in indifference to God's claims, is an hour lost forever. Every opportunity for service allowed to pass unimproved means an eternal loss. ST July 2, 1902, par. 19

Mrs. E. G. White