The Service of Talent

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I’m working my way through the book of Hebrews currently, reading it along with William Barclay’s commentary. Barclay explains something neat that I’ve never noticed before about the opening passage in Hebrew. Here’s how it reads in my Bible:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His Power.

Hebrews 1:1-3 (ESV)

Nice passage, right? But it doesn’t exactly stop me in my tracks. I read it and I kept reading. Barclay, however, explains that in the original Greek the words are very carefully chosen for resonance. For their sound and flow. He calls them “sonorous”. Barclay tells us that the author of Hebrews (who remains unknown) must have been trained in Greek oratory. And here’s the best part – he used his talent to share the word of God.

Barclay says:

“When people become Christians, they are not asked to abandon all the talents they once had; they are asked to use them in the service of Jesus Christ and of His church.”

Too often we think (or sometimes people tell us) that Christians look a certain way, act a certain way. And so when we become Christians, or we’re trying to improve ourselves as Christians, we attempt to shake off the things that make us unique. The very characteristics that God created us to have. Instead, we should be embracing those gifts and talents and using them to glorify God.

Okay, so the author of Hebrews wasn’t born with this talent for Greek oratory (at least, not likely) but he trained and studied and obtained it. Perhaps he had a passion for oratory, perhaps he used it in his field of work. We really don’t know. The point is, he was able to take that talent and make it beautiful for God. The book of Hebrews is obviously different than the other books of the New Testament. It’s obvious that it wasn’t written by Paul or Luke or John. That’s why it’s able to speak to readers two thousand years later. God used this author, yes, but the writer was also willing to be used. Willing to be humble. Willing to rejoice in the skills he had and find a way to serve the Lord and to serve others with them.

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Semi-related: I thought this article had some great points about art in the church. You may already know how I feel about the church and art.

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