Multiplying wealth, creativity and love

Multiplying wealth through the parable of talents

Being fruitful and multiplying wealth

Multiplying wealth is God’s command. But so is multiplying creativity and love.

According to the Bible the first command God gave humans was to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Genesis 1:28). While this could be taken as a command to populate the planet, it has much deeper meaning that is as relevant today as it was then.

Jesus Christ taught lessons using stories or parables. One of these – the Parable of the Talents  (Matthew 25:14-30) is about ‘being fruitful and multiplying’ but in a very different way.

Parable of the Talents – a gist

It is about an employer who is about to go away for some time. Before he does, he gives three servants – lets call them A, B and C some talents (coins). A gets 5 coins, B gets 2 coins and C gets 1 coin.

When the employer returns some time later, he asks A, B and C to account for how well they managed the money they were left as stewards for. How much did they multiply wealth?

A has made 5 coins grow to 10, B made 2 coins grow to 4, but C took 1 coin, buried it and returned it to his master.

The master is furious! He abuses C and takes away the money from him and gives it to A. ‘You could have at least put the money in the bank and earned deposit,’ says the master to C.

Then Jesus goes on to say that those that multiply wealth will get more and those that do not will lose even what they do have.

Lesson on investing?

Instead of letting money stagnate through hoarding and hiding it should be invested and circulated.

But the power of this parable goes way beyond multiplying wealth. For this goes to the very first command God gave humanity – ‘be fruitful and multiply’. Let us take a closer look at this and its importance for our world today.

Multiplying wealth – material, spiritual and creative to make a better world

God has given each and every one of us certain gifts. Some may be writers, musicians, artists, leaders, healers, speakers, caregivers and so on. God gave us all various ‘talents’ or ‘creative seeds’. These should be multiplied and grown, not buried in the sand. Using these to help enrich our world is how we make them grow. Multiplying wealth is not only about multiplying material wealth.

But it goes even further that this. What is the biggest gift or virtue that God gives us? It is the capacity to love. Through love come the other virtues of peace, joy, happiness, bliss, and contentment.

If we apply the parable of talents in our daily lives, then we need to use the gifts that God has given us (including the gift of love) and multiply them. If you are loved by God (which we all are, even if we don’t realise it) then we need to make that love grow and multiply just as the first servant did. We need to make sure that the love God has given us is put to use and spread to others and not buried inside the depths of our own self-centredness.

Love is a resource, an asset!

To use the investment analogy – love is a resource, an asset, a gift that we have along with our other creative talents or skills. This asset has to grow in order for us to live bountiful lives. It can only grow by circulation and not by stagnation.

When you help something grow you get more rewards or ‘fruit’.

In the parable, it is multiplying wealth. In our own lives, it could be money, skills, love or blessings. These things come to us only when we take the risk of taking a chance.

We may think we are preserving something by hiding it away or being overprotective but we are doing the opposite. By hiding something away that can bring value to the world, we are inadvertently destroying it.

The greatest risk is not taking any

Ships may be safe in the harbour, but that is not what ships were built for.

We may feel we are safe by suppressing our own creative skills, procrastinating or by being indifferent to others, but that is not what we came to Earth for.

So don’t waste time. Be like the first servant. Use your gifts, improve the world, spread love and compassion to all you encounter. Multiply wealth whether it is material wealth, spiritual wealth or creative wealth. Today’s world has its share of problems but it also has its share of wonder. By nurturing and growing our talents, we can bring more love, peace and creativity to our world.

There are no strangers on Christmas

(Published in the Indian Express – December 25, 2016)
It is Christmas once again!

This is that time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and also prepare for the coming of a new year. It is a time of merriment and joy where we celebrate not only with cakes, presents and Christmas trees but also reflect on the year that has gone by.

The message for this Christmas is humility.

The promised messiah entered this world not in the comfort of a palace with several servants, but was born in a humble manger with only shepherds to welcome him. But the shepherds were witnesses to a great event earlier when the glory of the Lord appeared to them in the form of angels. These angels informed them that a holy child would be born in Bethlehem, and that child would be found in a manger.

As the Christ would say some thirty years later –

‘For whoever exalts himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.’ (Matthew 23:12 NIV).

Jesus Christ taught a simple lesson of love, forgiveness, humility and brotherhood – as relevant today as they were 2000 years ago.

Just as Christ’s birth is celebrated every year, it should also be a reminder that this is a good time to reflect on the year that has passed by and plan out how we approach the coming new year.

What are the lessons we have learned? What are our successes and failures? What are the things we are proud of and what are the mistakes we made that we can learn from? Christmas is the perfect time to think of these things.

We live in interesting times. There is a lot of strife, violence, terrorism, and environmental and economic difficulties in our times. But at the same time, there is a lot of hope in the fact that we are coming together as a planet. Thanks to technology and media we are no longer on the far fringes from anybody else. More than ever before, we as a planet are faced with challenges and dangers that affect us all. In such times is a perfect opportunity for us to solve our world’s problems together and together take our species into a new era of love, light, peace, prosperity, discovery, joy and happiness as one world, one people.

Humility is the message that we are thinking about this Christmas. We may think that humility is synonymous with irrelevance, but nothing could be further from the truth! Think of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Benjamin Franklin, Swami Vivekananda, Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata, Bill Clinton and our own prime minister Shri Narendra Modi. All of these people began their life journey from very humble backgrounds, but that did not deter them from achieving greatness. Humility is not the opposite of greatness, but rather the path towards it!

It is not ungodly or unrighteous to seek greatness. True humility is to strive for something great and achieve it, but to recognise that whatever you achieve is meant for God’s glory and not your own personal glory. It is up to us to solve the problems of this world. It is up to us to make this world a better place with a brighter, peaceful and prosperous future.

As U.S. President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address on January 20, 1961:

‘Here on Earth, God’s work must truly be our own.’

So this year on Christmas let us recognise that we all have a mission, we all have a duty to our world, we all have the responsibility to make this world a better place, but at the same time we need to do it for the glory of God. Christmas is a great day to remember this lesson – God gave the world his son to lead the people of the world to love their neighbour as themselves, to forgive one another, not to judge nor condemn but to thrive and strive towards perfection.

As Jesus said:

‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.’ (Matthew 5:48 NIV)

In the process, remember that you are a gift to this world and like Jesus or any of the other people who have given much to this world, you have a mission, you have a gift inside you that must be given to the world. Today is a good time to look into your inner self and ask for God’s help to make you an instrument of His love, His light, His peace, His joy, His glory and His power.

We are all children of God living together on a small blue planet in a small corner of our Galaxy and there are no strangers on Christmas or ever.

I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year 2017.

Let your light shine and bring love to the world

 

(published in The Indian Express – Dec 25, 2014)

Christmas is that time of the year that most of us think of Christmas Trees, cake, presents, Christmas carols and Santa Claus. But this is the day that billions of people around the world celebrate the birth of the Messiah who was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.

Jesus Christ or Yeshua as he was actually called by his peers was born to a humble carpenter Joseph and his wife, Mary. So powerful was his presence on Earth that three wise men from the east saw his star in the heavens and were led to him. They presented the blessed babe with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

When Jesus was 30 years old, he began his holy mission on Earth to bring the good news to the world. His message was simple – love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Simple as it sounds, this was a very powerful message and still is in today’s world where there is so much violence, strife, war, poverty and hunger.

The Good Samaritan
When asked by someone who is their neighbour, Jesus answered in the form of a parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37).

He recounted how a man was beaten by robbers and left for dead on the road. First a priest comes and then a Levite, neither of these helps the man. Then a Samaritan comes and helps the man and nurses him back to recovery. Then Jesus asks the questioner, “Which of these was the man’s neighbour?”

“The one who helped him,” said the questioner.

What should be remembered is that the Jews hated Samaritans. For Jesus to tell his Jewish audience that the Samaritan was his true neighbour, was a big step in those days when Jews didn’t even want to talk about Samaritans, much less talk to them.

This message of love and neighbourly conduct is as relevant today as it was then, perhaps even more so. We live in a world where there is so much discord between people of different faiths, nationalities and other divisions. The world is suffering tremendously by gruesome, heartless acts of terrorism and violence.

It is in these kinds of conditions that this Christmas we should endeavour to spread the seeds of love into the world. We cannot afford to do otherwise. The power of love is the most powerful force in the universe and if enough of us seek out God’s love and light and try to live it in our daily lives, we will surely save the world from self-destruction.

Love, peace, joy, forgiveness, service and hope are the qualities that will help us to continue to spread the message of the Christ on earth.

Jesus was a man of action. One of my favourite verses is –

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 (KJV)

Let your light shine! How lovely that sounds! Through prayer and meditation we can all increase our own soul’s light and that mixed with “good work” will bring God’s glory to the earth. By doing the works that Jesus talked about during his life on Earth, we can truly make Christmas a festival to celebrate with great joy.

This Christmas let us not only think about his birth, but also let us once again allow the message of love to be reborn in our hearts again as it was in Jesus’ times.

We do not have to do big things to make a big change. When we do small things also which are good and filled with love and light, they will create a ripple effect of goodness. When that ripple of love and light touches enough people, they will also feel like spreading it forward and so on until the darkness in the world ends and is flooded with the light of God.

There is one God and throughout the Ages he has sent his messengers to earth to spread this message of love and compassion. Every human being on earth is a child of that God. We each have a divine mandate to fulfil. We are all co-heirs of Christ as it says in Romans 8:17.

“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:16-17 (NIV).

Let the spark of Christ’s love bloom in your heart and then do the works that you do in your everyday life, but fill those words, thoughts and deeds with love and you will be contributing to the healing of our world and those people who inhabit it.

There are many paths that lead to God and it is not in division, bigotry and hatred that we should walk that path. For if we are true to our own selves and our path then we must also respect the paths of others. God is not interested in which path we take. For sometimes those who consider only their path to be correct end up like the priests and Levites of the Good Samaritan story, where in the end it was the one who actually acted on his love and mercy became the true neighbour, even though he was a Samaritan who was despised by the entire Jewish community. The fact that Jesus chose a Samaritan in this story is significant because it shows that even if people do not share your religion, your nationality, your views, they may be your true neighbours and blessed in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ.

God’s love is a love that transcends all divisions. It exists in every atom, every cell, every human being, every animal, every plant, every rock, every drop of water, every breath of air, every spark of fire, every grain of sand, every planet, every moon, every star, every galaxy and every universe, every plane of existence either physical or spiritual, every dimension. God’s love is inside you! It is inside you in the form of light. Look inwards and find that light and then let it shine so brightly that it compels you to act upon it and all people will look at your good works and glorify the God inside you. For as Jesus said clearly, the Kingdom of God is within you! (Luke 17:21 KJV)

This Christmas let us honour Jesus by acting upon his message of love, peace, forgiveness and action and service towards others.

He seeks and saves the lost

(published in Inner Voice column, page 15, Hindustan Times, March 22, 2005)

Like every human being, many times I have ‘fallen short of the glory of God’ and have repeatedly asked for His forgiveness. Such times I have always felt distanced from Him.

After succumbing to temptation, we often feel cut off from His Holy Presence. We feel sapped of our energy and strength. The positive vibration of God’s Holy Presence is substituted with the negative vibration of guilt and loneliness.

Fear not if you have sinned, for so has everybody else. Had we not sinned, we would not be here on earth in the first place. Everyone else on this planet has sinned and therefore is born.

A passage in the Bible talks about Zacchaeus a publican, who because of his short stature climbed a tree to watch Jesus pass by.

When Jesus saw him, he called him down and said that he would stay with him that night.

Those around Jesus wondered why he wished to stay in the house of a sinner. Jesus replied, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

It is God’s wish to seek and save that which was lost.

He often sends us little hints that He is there to show us the way and that he is there to forgive us. The hints we send us are manifested in various ways.

We must all have experienced it. You open a holy book and your eyes fall on a verse that seems tailor made for your particular needs at that moment.

You are driving home from work and you are confused about something or worried and your eyes fall upon a road sign or a sticker on the back of a car and there comes the flash! You understand that God is trying to communicate with you! It is a joyful feeling — “For He is come to seek and save that which was lost!”