The spice box “To the one whom God has gifted”

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Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel

May I remind you of something you already knew? That is, after all, my specialty!

We all have our gifts. Whether or not we realize it, God has distributed his good gifts freely and generously among his people. How could it be otherwise? Every good thing bestowed, and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of his will he brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be as it were the first fruits among his creatures (James 1:17-18 NAS).

We are his special creation, designed to exemplify to a skeptical world the quality of his work. How could we possibly believe that he is unable to provide us with what is needed to fit us for his purposes?

Sadly, the concept of “giftedness” has become distorted through popular usage into something almost unrecognizable as the inevitable consequence of being born into the family of God. We tend to think of the one who has outstanding natural talents as being “gifted,” while the rest of us make do with whatever humble abilities we may possess.

That is not a scriptural interpretation. Talents are wonderful things! They are indeed gifts from God. They are not, however, the most important gifts he bestows; nor are the things we commonly call “spiritual gifts,” special gifts given to God’s favorite children.

As Paul made clear in Romans 12:6-8 (NIV), We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully and reaffirms in I Corinthians 12:4-6, There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

God doesn’t play favorites. The gifts God has given to you or to me are no less important, no less to be valued and used than those gifts more publicly recognized; God gives to each of his children gifts according to his choosing, not that we might receive honor and acclaim, but that we might share in the privilege of accomplishing his holy and eternal purposes.

All comfy now? Good, now we can get to the tough part!

Can there be too much of a good thing? Can a person be “too gifted”?

Actually, no. God doesn’t pamper and spoil his children by giving us too much, but we can certainly be guilty of spoiling his gifts by misusing them. Consider, for example: A man or woman is gifted with what it takes to become a strong, effective leader. The individual has the personal charisma, the eloquence, the assertiveness, the ability to influence others. A highly successful ministry is founded. God be praised, many may be persuaded to follow Christ. Is it possible for that leader to be seduced by his or her own popularity, to seek and find satisfaction in the success of the ministry, rather than in the honor of being allowed to be in God’s service? Can success go to the head of even one who is committed to Christ?

Or can one who is gifted in providing a service—one who is gifted in hospitality, for example—become so wrapped up in performing that service that greater satisfaction comes from the recognition and thanks of those served than from the awareness that a need is fulfilled through obedient service before the Lord?

Or, though we say the right things when someone compliments us, verbalizing the commendable staple plea, “Give God the praise, not me,” do we secretly embrace the praise as our own, and plan how our next effort will be even more commendable?

Or can we decry (or even deny) the gifts we are given, or perhaps even envy the gifts God has chosen to give others? If God gives us the heart and mind to write a note of condolence, do we trivialize that gift by envying the one who can put together a persuasive treatise on ministering to the grief-stricken? Do we fail to recognize that God gives us our own personal gifts and abilities because those gifts and abilities are precisely what he needs in this moment—and in moments to come?

These things happen; they must not be allowed to happen. When we come to think of those things, those abilities or characteristics God gives us, as being somehow due to our own merit, we disrupt God’s intent for their use.

Thank God for his good gifts. May we use them in accordance with his purposes. After all, for the one committed to the service of God, for the one whom God gifted through adoption as his own, there should be but one ambition: May Jesus Christ be praised!


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