The theologian A. W. Tozer famously said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (The Knowledge of the Holy).
What you think about God is the most important thing, because what you think about God can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In high school, I heard rumors about a certain instructor. I will call her “The Teacher.” The Teacher had the reputation of being a drill sergeant. It was said that she ruled her class with an iron fist and that she was hard and unyielding.
As I was about to start my sophomore year, I looked at my course schedule, and, you guessed it, I had The Teacher.
I was petrified.
On the first day of class, all the rumors seemed accurate. There was an eerie silence in the room. The students were fastened to their seats as if they were waiting for her wrath. My belief about The Teacher made beads of sweat drip down my forehead.
However, after a few weeks in the class, I saw a different side of The Teacher. Yes, she was strict. And yes, she wanted silence, but not because she was cruel but because she cared.
My false beliefs about The Teacher filled me with fear, and that fear became a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when I saw her smile, my beliefs changed. I saw her as a compassionate educator who wanted the best for her students.
When my beliefs changed, my worry went away.
What rumors have you heard about God? Have you heard he is hard and unyielding, unjust or judgmental? Whatever you believe about God will determine your future.
The parable of the talents (or bags of gold)
That’s one of the ideas Jesus taught in his famous story called the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus said that a master had three servants who had been entrusted with his wealth. The first one believed in the goodness and generosity of his master, so he went out and put the money to work. The second servant did the same. But Jesus said that the third servant took the money entrusted to him, went to his backyard, and buried it in the ground.
Why did the third servant bury his master’s money?
He believed his master was cruel and unjust. And his belief became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Just listen to what he said about his master: “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground” (Matthew 25:24,25).
I wonder how many of our beliefs about God are leading us to “bury our talents” in our backyard?
In my case, it goes something like this: For much of my life, I’ve looked at the talents and resources of others and thought, “Why can’t I be more like them? Why didn’t God give me greater gifts? All I do is read the Bible and preach sermons. Why has God been so stingy with me?”
Can you spot my problem? I believed God was cruel to me. And my thoughts about God became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I preached mediocre messages. I wrote mediocre articles. In other words, my beliefs led me to bury my gift in the ground.
But then one day something switched. I started to believe that my talent was a gift from a good God. Not everyone can teach and preach. And this gift is meaningful. It is changing and improving lives, even beyond this present life. I had new beliefs about God, and those beliefs guided my life in new directions.
How about you? What do you believe about God? Do you believe he is cruel and stingy or good and generous? What you think about him is the most important thing about you. It directs your life. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Who is God, really?
So how can you get an accurate perspective of who God really is?
Look to Jesus.
In Jesus, we experience the grace of God. In Jesus, we see God’s abundant provision. He not only gives us a new lease on life through the cross, but he also gives us talents to use in service to others.
Therefore, believe God is good and generous. Believe that he has given you good things to do and the resources to accomplish them. And then when he returns on the Last Day and you present what you have done with your abilities, he will respond: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21).