Tuesday, February 1, 2011

We are commanded to use our gifts for His glory

I am not a typical guy when it comes to my taste in movies. You see action movies and sci-fi movies are rarely the type of movies I genuinely enjoy the most. For me a film needs to have a good story in order to hook me. It needs to be realistic to the fact that life can be messy. I don’t care how many cars you blow up or aliens from a different planet you have in your movie; if you don’t have solid story with memorable characters and a genuine message, I am not going to like your movie.

That being said, my favorite movie of all time is “Jerry Maguire,” writer/director Cameron Crowe’s 1996 masterpiece that works like an incredible modern day parable similar to the one Jesus told in Matthew 25:14-30 about a wealthy man who gave a certain amount of money to each of his servants and asked him to use it in a way that would make the man a profit. As the parable goes, the wealthy investor gave different amounts of money to his servants and then went away on a journey. When he returned months or even years later and called the servants to him to ask how they had used the money he gave them, each man stepped forward and stated how much he had been given, and on almost every occasion they had each doubled the amount they had started with by investing it in various ways. Each servant is then blessed by his wealthy employer and given more responsibility. All accept for, that is, the servant who simply buried the amount of money he had been given and risked nothing to try and multiply it; this servant was punished by his master severely.

Jesus tells us the Kingdom of Heaven is the same way. You see God gives all of us gifts that he wants us to use for His glory, and if we chose not to use them, He will not bless our life. In “Jerry Maguire” our protagonist who the film is named after, is a successful sports agent who has tons of clients whom he cares very little about personally, but plenty about when it comes to getting them the most money, and the biggest contracts. When he has an epiphany and writes a mission statement about how agents like him should care less about money, and more about their clients as people, he finds himself fired from the agency he works for, and dumped by all but one of his clients. So he takes his one client (a Arizona Cardinals tight end named Rod Tidwell) and one loyal co-worker (Dorothy Boyd) who agrees to join him in starting his independent agency, and begins life fresh.

Jerry draws a lot of his inspiration from a man who was his mentor, an agent named Dicky Fox who makes appearances throughout the movie sharing pieces of wisdom about life. My personal favorite of these quotes is as the film is building to a climax and Dicky appears on screen and simply points to his heart saying ‘if this is empty, this (pointing to his head) doesn’t matter.” I remember the first time I saw this movie that I began immediately thinking that that one line could easily be the finest summation of 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 I had ever heard!

However, there is even more to this movie than that! Jerry and Rod develop a friendship throughout the movie that much like Rodger Maris and Mickey Mantle in “61” illustrates Proverbs 27:17 once again. Jerry challenges Rod to play the game of football because of his love for the game and to quit smart talking his coaches and whining to him about ‘showing him (Rod) the money” all the time. Jerry tells him to put his heart back into his playing, and maybe then the Cardinals will be willing to offer him a bigger contract.

Jerry also goes through an incredible character arc throughout this fantastic film. He immediately falls in love with Dorothy Boyd’s young son Roy. He also begins to have feelings for her as well. However, when Jerry initially fails to secure any big contract for Rod, Dorothy chooses to take a job out of town. Jerry then decides to rush into a marriage with Dorothy in order to keep her and her son in town. This is where Rod begins to challenge Jerry on working on his marriage with Dorothy. He always asks him how his marriage is going and even dares to ask him why he got married in the first place. Jerry responds that he did so because of her loyalty to him that she showed by giving up her job at the agency to go independent with him. Rod’s response to this is to laugh, and state: “well that’s a reason, it isn’t sexy, but it’s a reason!” Indeed loyalty is important but it certainly shouldn’t be the only reason you do something as life changing as marrying a person!

Ultimately as this movie concludes both men learn a lot from each other and do a fine job of illustrating what it looks like to live out the Apostle Paul’s words in Colossians 3:23 “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (NLT). In my view this verse ties in quite well with Jesus parable in Matthew 25. You see friends, God gives every one of us gifts and talents. For some of us like Rod Tidwell in this film it is the gift of athleticism to play a game for all of us to enjoy and be entertained by watching! For others of us, like Jerry Maguire, we are given people skills to be able to negotiate and work with our fellow humans to improve each others lives. Still others are given the gift of writing or composing music, while others are given the gift of teaching or called to be Pastors. Some are given the call into the mission fields of foreign countries, others given the ability to solve complex math equations or discover cures for diseases. Whatever it is that the Lord has given us to do in life, we are commanded to use those gifts for His glory, and that means we must put our full effort into everything we do. Anything less and we are wasting the gifts He has given us!

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