Latent skills and talents often lie dormant until they are activated by some unexpected circumstance such as persuasion or even coercion. Some folks realize that they have potential in a certain area but choose to let it remain undeveloped. Perhaps this is due to shyness or humility or too many other irons in the fire. Others are unaware of a talent and are almost completely surprised when it is actualized. Most of us have heard stories of someone lifting a car up to free a trapped victim or using survivor skills in a severe winter storm, abilities that had formerly been latent. Nearly everyone has some latent abilities that could greatly improve other people’s lives if they were uncovered and applied.
Many Biblical figures either didn’t know or chose to avoid using the gifts that God had given them. I doubt that Noah knew he was skilled at carpentry until he had to build an ark. It appears that Moses had profited from the best secular education available in Egypt and was said to be, “powerful in speech and action” (Acts 7:22). However, he must have let them lie latent too long during those 40 years in the Midian area, for he tried to avoid the task of bringing the Israelites out of bondage by saying he was, “not eloquent and was slow of tongue” (Ex 3:10). Gideon surely didn’t think he was a “mighty warrior” (Jud 6:12) and needed several signs from the Lord before defeating the Midianite army with only 300 men by using his latent gift from God. Dorcas was a seamstress, Peter a fisherman and Cornelius a Roman centurion, but they all used their occupations to help others in need. They realized that kindness shouldn’t stay latent.
In Jesus’ parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30) the Master gave 3 of his servants talents to use while he was gone. The one with 5 talents and the one with 2 were called “good and faithful” for their wise investments, but the one-talent servant was called “wicked and lazy” for leaving his talent latent. God gives gifts to Christians today starting with the Holy Spirit given at immersion to dwell within them (Acts 2:38). The Holy Spirit then distributes gifts to these Christians called fruit (Gal 5:22-23). The Apostle Paul lists such gifts as; serving, teaching, contributing, encouraging and showing mercy (Rom 12:6-8) all done with “zeal by keeping your spiritual fervor” (v 11). He further mentions wisdom, knowledge, faith, praying and singing (1 Cor 12:4-9) (1 Cor 14:15). It is hard to believe that any earnest Christian today doesn’t have at least some of these gifts that may have been allowed to be latent and dominant. God’s marching orders are, “…we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10) Onward Christian soldiers!