We need each other. It’s a blessing when someone stops to help when you’re stranded along the side of the road…. or when you’re sick and a doctor or nurse shows up. If you have a confusing tax issue, thank God for the helpful accountant. Yet outside some pretty defined guidelines (e.g. my job), we can tend to be somewhat possessive of our gifts . “These are my gifts to use as I desire; I developed them and they belong to me.” Hmmmmm.
The problem with this way of thinking is that God has a different idea. Our gifts belong to him… we are the steward of his gifts to be used for his purposes. The reading from the first letter of Peter sheds some important light on the issue of “gifts”. “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1Peter4:10-11)
Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 12: 4-11 that “ there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
The key is that God apportions gifts to all of us for the common good… to bless all of us. It’s a problem if I think they belong to me and maybe I don’t feel like using “my” gifts today… I’m tired or cranky, or lazy. The problem is that perhaps others are going to suffer if I decide to not bring “my gifts” to the table. “Sure I could help out, but I’m tired and no one appreciates me anyway…whine, whine, whine.”
The truth is that using “our gifts” costs us something. It’s an act of love. We may be tired or under attack, and it’s a decision of love to serve by bringing our gifts to the table. If you have a musical gift, a gift of encouragement, or a gift of teaching or a gift of organization, or a gift of using your hands for auto repair or putting up a wall, making a meal for someone, …. it’s a decision of love to be open to using these gifts. Yet, we all have gifts and are called to use them for the common good.
It’s a good exercise to daily lay our gifts at the feet of the Lord, and ask him to help us use them for his glory and the good of our family and friends and his church. And the good news is that we will experience the consolation of the Lord as we experience being his “hands” to his beloved people. And this is very good news.