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We've all heard the old adage, “use it or lose it.”
I have come to know, firsthand, the true meaning of those words. Having enjoyed playing the guitar since my youth, I now am sometimes frustrated when I attempt to play a song and just can't seem to remember the words or chords. Likewise, when I'm working with the computer, I sometimes have difficulty remembering some procedure that I have performed numerous times. In order to retain the talent we must exercise it continuously. When I haven't played a song or performed that computer operation for quite some time, it can become difficult to remember exactly how to do it.
I am reminded of a story about a little girl whose grandmother received a gift of perfume in a bottle. The little girl was fascinated by it. The bottle was made of green pottery with a long slender neck and it looked like the pictures one sees of ancient pottery. The little girl begged her grandmother to open the bottle. “No,” was the reply, “I'm going to save it for a special occasion.”
When she had grown to be a woman, the girl received the same bottle of perfume as a gift from her grandmother who said, “Let's see how long you can keep it without opening it.”
Several years passed and one day when she picked up the perfume bottle, the woman was shocked to discover that it was quite empty, even though it was still sealed. Turning it over she soon learned why. The bottom of the bottle had never been glazed and the perfume had slowly evaporated through the porous clay. How sad that no one ever enjoyed the perfume she thought — not grandma or anyone else.
As we reflect upon this story, we can ask the question: Do we frequently treat God's gifts in the same way, not using them because of shyness, selfishness, or just plain laziness? Failing to use our gifts disappoints God, and we consequently deny others the opportunity to enjoy God's blessings with us. The apostle Peter wrote in 1Peter 4:10, “Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts must use for the good of others a special gift that he has received from God.”
Talents sealed in the bottle do not spread the fragrance of God's love. Let us all pray for courage to use our skills and talents in a way that will be pleasing to God. Use it or lose it!
Gene Dumas is preacher at Manatee Springs Church of Christ in Chiefland.