Grab Every Opportunity for the Kingdom

For those interested in military history I recommend, The Fall of Rome by Michael Curtis Ford. The hero of this book, a man named Odoacer, was the final barbarian who overthrew the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. The following is adapted from pages 274-275 of Ford’s book:

Odoacer has a conversation with a hermit/monk, Severinus, regarding the parable of the talents. Severinus speculates the supposed existence of a fourth servant in the parable who would have invested his money to the best of his ability and tried to make a return, but in the end loses all. The following is a direct quotation from the book:

Odoacer looked at him in puzzlement. “What is your point? He asked finally, “God does not reward poor investors.”

Severinus shook his head.

“No, my son. God favors those who take the opportunities given them. Opportunities are blessings; like good health, or a faithful wife, or wine to make us glad. Accepting opportunities implies failure occasionally, perhaps often, because men are fallible and faith is weak. But they are blessings nonetheless.”

“I cannot believe that God rejoices in failure.”

“It is not failure in which He rejoices, but the attempt. Accepting an opportunity implies a faith in God, in the bounty of his gifts…But failing to accept an opportunity, failing even to try, signifies the opposite: a lack of faith, a separation from God, ultimately an arrogance and pride that says we do not trust the gifts God drops in our laps; we, as men, know better than Him, we trust in ourselves rather than rely on Him…

(Odoacer then suggests that perhaps the servant lost the investment because of stupidity)

Severinus responds:

“Perhaps; but that is no sin. God does not punish stupidity—He punishes pride, and lack of resolution, and timidity. Pride and fear, you see, are often one and the same.”

On our vacation this past summer I was astonished to hear from God by way of this totally secular book on the fall of Rome. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened. God had already been speaking to me through this parable–and suddenly I was exposed to it again from a most unexpected source–only this time with a different twist.

So then, let us all fight vigorously, to our very last breath, against the sin of letting our talents rust. Nothing, but nothing must be allowed to dwell within us that will cause them to rust with disuse.

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