Hildebrand Loses On Final Lap Of Indianapolis 500

On the final lap of the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, J.R. Hildebrand was in the lead until the final turn when he slammed into a wall. The rookie had made the ultimate mistake with his very last turn of the wheel, and Wheldon, not Hildebrand, made an improbable turn into Victory Lane. Hildebrand had a four-second lead and nobody was going to catch him. It was a perfect story, a 23-year-old rookie driver winning the Indy 500 in a car sponsored by the National Guard on Memorial Day weekend. It was perfect until the final turn. He steered his mangled car across the finish line on three wheels — but came in second to Dan Wheldon. No doubt many fans will believe it was simply a rookie mistake and a wasted opportunity.

The tragedy of wasted opportunity is also the theme of Jesus’ parable of the talents. As believers, we are waiting for the Lord to come, but as we wait it is also a time for seizing opportunity. That’s the message Jesus taught in this very important parable.

The key to the parable is Matthew 25:15: “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” Each man’s ability was determined by what he received. Some people had greater capacity than others did. One got five, one got two and one got one.

In the parable, the master is the Lord Himself who goes away and leaves us with the task of managing what we have been given which is represented here by the bags of coins. That is what we are to use for serving God while He’s away, until Christ returns. Not everyone has been given the same amount. Everyone has been created with different mental and physical capacities. The parable is a picture of spiritual capacity, spiritual privilege, spiritual responsibility and spiritual opportunity.

The main point Jesus makes in this parable is straightforward, be faithful to maximize your opportunity. In FCA, we often refer to this as maxing out for the Lord. The idea is to give the Lord a full return on the opportunity and privilege that you have been given.

But, Matthew 25:18 says, “But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.” He did absolutely nothing with it! He had wasted his opportunity.

You might have been created with only a capacity for one talent rather than five, but you’re responsible for it. Even the one who has the least opportunity is equally responsible.

We will either maximize the spiritual opportunities the Lord has given us or we will not and it will be wasted.

This is a powerful message about spiritual privilege. But where does that spiritual privilege come from? Our spiritual privilege comes from the good news that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to become a man, born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, and as only he could—rose from the dead that through the repenting of sins and faith in the gospel we can obtain this spiritual privilege or good news.

1. Do you feel badly for J.R. Hildebrand? Why or why not?

2. What person in the New Testament is the best example of a wasted spiritual opportunity? Explain.

3. What is a parable?

4. What is the difference between: spiritual capacity, spiritual privilege, spiritual responsibility and spiritual opportunity.

5. Read Matthew 25:15-30. What else stood out to you in this parable?

6. Is it possible to max out for the Lord without understanding the gospel? Why or why not?


Gordon Thiessen has served on staff with the Nebraska FCA since 1986 He has also founded Cross Training Publishing (www.crosstrainingpublishing.com). He has written Team Studies on Character and edited The Athletes Topical Bible. He is married to Terri and has four grown children.



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