Friday, July 09, 2010

Use Your Gifts

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

As I read this verse this morning, I am thinking on all those times where I admired other people's gifts. You know, those times where something really pops out for someone, and you see a glimpse of their potential, and then you quietly wonder to yourself when your gift is going to pop out of hiding. We hear a young lady really sing for the first time and you realize she has a great gift for singing, and you wonder if you yourself have a gift along those lines. Or a young man will get up in church and share something that is on his heart, and for the first time you see that this young man is going to be a great preacher some day. It's so easy to see someone else using their spiritual gift, and then look back at ourselves and wish we had a gift to contribute.

And yet, each and every one of us has spiritual giftings- it's just that sometimes, our gift is not what we expect it to be, or is it something that puts us out there- showing everyone what our gift is. Some people are dynamic administrators- those people have the gift of administration, they put together great meetings and conferences, but they are behind the scenes, we don't actually see all the hard work they put into it. Unlike the preacher who gets up in front of us all and we physically see the studying that has gone into preparing a message. There are those, like myself, with the gift of hospitality. I can put together great meals and make someone feel right at home- but is that really what one would consider a glamorous gift?

I think sometimes we can feel disappointed with the gifts we actually have when we compare them one with another. And yet, every gifting is important to the body. Every person has a job to do- and that preacher up front can't do his job if everyone else isn't doing theirs as well. I think too many of us are sitting back, just waiting to be annointed with some special gifting, waiting on God to tell us exactly what it is we are to be doing, when the reality is that we already know what we're good at, and He's waiting on us to put that to good use. Someone who excels in sports could start or run a skills camp for underprivelaged kids- you know, the ones whose parents cannot afford several hundred dollars for good equipment or lesson fees. Someone who excels in the area of crafts could organize a craft day in the park, and work with someone who has a gifting to work with children- sharing the love of Jesus with the neighborhood through papercrafts.

Someone who has a gift in the fiber arts- whether it be knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing, can make blankets for the infirm and elderly- or make baby blankets to send to orphanages overseas. A person who is gifted with scrapbooking could put together a memento for a family who lost a child- provide a huge gift to help remember and honor that child. A person who is especially gifted to work with children could open up a day care in their home- just imagine the impact that could have to have children being cared for in a God-filled environment. A person with a gift for writing words can write encouraging notes to people who are depressed or down- or simply going through a rough time. Someone with a gift for growing vegetables can grow extra in their backyard garden to donate to a food pantry or to a homeless shelter.

The point of all this is to say that there is no gift too small. Every single gifting is important and integral to the body of Christ. If we had no one with the gift to put a meal together, no one would ever go to picnics and potlucks, because they'd know the food would be dismal. If we had no one with the gift of encouragement, think about how many people would be trapped in a spirit of depression. If we had no one with the gift of honesty, think of how many people would be trapped by sin, but because that one person was honest with them and told them to straighten up, they made a change and now are filled with the joy of the Lord as they are freed of that sinful desire. Every single gift is important, and it's important to spend some time talking to God and figuring out just what giftings you should be using. Sometimes we get so caught up and focuses on "the big gifts" that we don't see all these other gifts that are just lying dormant inside of us- waiting to be used!

God can use the smallest of talents to bless someone- if we are only willing to do so. Even a talent for arranging flowers can brighten someone's darkest day. Or a talent for doing dishes can help a new mother to stop feeling overwhelmed. It seems to me that if we desire more gifts, more abilities, that we first need to utilize the ones we have- show ourselves and God that we can be trusted with little, and then He will give us more.

"His master replied, '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

If we desire to write a great novel someday, first we need to start by writing something small. Maybe we contribute to a monthly newsletter or write a blog. Maybe we start with a short story, or a few short stories, and watch our talents develop over time. We show God that we can be faithful with what He has blessed us with- a talent for writing, and then He will create the opportunities that fall into place when the time comes to write the big one.

And maybe it is the desire of our hearts to be a minister some day. Then you start by showing God that you can be faithful with the small things. You become faithful in your daily Bible reading and prayer time. You start by teaching a Sunday School class and taking your own classes on theology and Bible study. Show God that your heart truly is with wanting to minister, and He will blow open the doors of opportunity- He will provide someone to pay for the college classes required of a minister, or He will give you supernatural energy to take classes AND work a job full-time. With God all things are possible! But I do know this, He has gifted each and every one of us in a unique and different way, and He wants us to use those giftings to lift each other up. He doesn't want us to look at someone else's gift and be jealous of them- He wants us to use what we already have, and then as we use what He has given us, He will give us more as we desire it.

God has already shaped you and I into the exact people He wants us to be! It's up to us do dig inside and use the potential that He's already placed inside of us. There is no job and no gift that is too small for God. He sees every single one of us as important and integral to the body of Christ. But will we be willing to use what He has already given us? Just say yes, and the unexpected opportunties will present themselves exactly when they should. God is like that. Say yes, and He'll place opportunities before us that we could only dream of before. God loves to see us using the talents that He has already blessed us with.

"For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. " Matthew 25:29

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