I’m often guilty of wishing I had someone else’s giftings. Have you ever felt that way? I can hear someone preach, and wish I could explain things the way they do. I’ve read other authors and thought, “If only I could write that well.” I’ve heard people give some wise advice and wondered why I can’t think of things like that. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into because I’m failing to be appreciative of the gifts God has given me. In those moments, I discount the very things God wants me to use for His glory.
If you look back across the years of your life, you will see a lot of ups and downs, mountains and valleys. In the low moments, God is smoothing off your rough edges and is sharpening the gifts He placed in you. It hurts to go through those times, but it’s in those valleys that God prepares you for your calling and destiny. Coming out of the valley, it’s natural to think you have nothing left, but even the little you have, used for God will be enough to fulfill your purpose.
2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “If you are eager to give, God will accept your gift on the basis of what you have to give, not on what you don’t have” (GNT). In other words, God isn’t expecting you to give Him someone else’s gifts. He’s expecting you to give Him what you have matter how small you think it might be. It’s time we quit comparing ourselves to each other when it comes to gifts. God didn’t give you their gifts because He didn’t call you to reach the same people they are called to reach. Give what you have and God will use it in ways you can’t imagine.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
One Christmas I was invited to a party. On the invitation, i saw the words “white elephant”. I got so excited, and my mind began to race about what piece of junk I own would be the funniest gift. I looked in my closet, in my room and in the garage. I finally found a piece of junk that I could get rid of and would be the talk of the party. I couldn’t wait to get there and play the game.
On the night of the party, I kept laughing to myself at the poor person who would open my gift. After we sat down and drew numbers, the game began. When the first person opened their gift, it was nice. I was confused. The next person went, and their gift was nice as well. Did these people not know what a white elephant was? I opened the email while I waited for my turn. I read the whole thing that said, “White elephant style with a $20 minimum gift.”
When the person opened my gift, the looked confused. There wasn’t laughter at all. They said, “Really?” Another person chimed in, “That’s all?” The hits said, “Maybe there’s a gift card in there.” Instead of bringing the best gift, I had brought the worst. I stayed silent as they asked who brought it. I was embarrassed and didn’t want to own up to it. It got me thinking about the wisemen and how they didn’t just bring their leftovers. They brought their best gift that fit for a king.
Matthew 2:11 says, “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (NLT). You and I may not have gold, frankincense or myrrh laying around, but we have giftings and talents we can offer the King. What are we offering Him? Is it our junk? Or is it our best gift? We will each present Him with something on judgement day. Let’s make sure we are giving God our best.
Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash
Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
A few years ago I had my nephew read the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. After he read it, we went to dinner to discuss it. He explained to me how the king had given servants silver and asked them to invest it while he was gone. When he came back for his money, one servant made ten times the original, another made five times and a third just buried it in the ground. The king was happy with the first two, but furious with the third.
After he explained it to me, I pulled out a hundred dollar bill and set it on the table. His eyes lit up. I slid it across the table to him and told him to invest it for me. I told I wanted him to think of a ministry he wanted to support with the profits. He quickly named a missionary in Kenya who had made an impact on him. I then told him I was going to come and ask for the money back and that we’d give whatever he had left to that missionary. Three months later, he ended turning that $100 into nearly $500. Not bad for a 12 year old.
It got me to thinking about what am I doing with the talents God has given me. Am I using them? Am I growing them? Have I invested them so I can show a profit from what He gave me? Yes, the story with my nephew is about money, but I’m talking about gifts God has enabled me with. Each of us has been given certain gifts and talents. Not one of us is talentless. Sure, some have more talent and gifts than others, but that doesn’t give us the right to bury ours in the sand.
In Romans 12:6-8, Paul tells us that no matter what gift God has given you, you should use it well. And in I Corinthians 12:7, he says that a spiritual gift has been given to each one of us so we can help each other. That means that God has given you a gift and He wants you to take a risk with the gift He has given you by using it. There’s a saying in business that says, “No risk. No reward.” Don’t be afraid to take a risk today with your gift. You might fail or you might succeed. You’ll never know until you try
Inadequate. That’s how I felt going on my first survival camp out. I was allowed to bring anything I could fit into a small bandaid box to survive with over a weekend. I didn’t know where I was going or what I would have access to. But once I arrived, I scouted a pond and was able to use fishing wire and a hook I had packed to catch fish. The knife inside helped me to clean it. The foil square I put in there made a great skillet to cook the fish with. It turns out that everything I needed to survive was already with me.
Inadequate. That’s how so many of us feel when it comes to being a “good” Christian. We don’t know where we are going or what we’ll have access to in the future. We often feel unqualified and unequipped to do what we feel God has called us to. We question whether we have what it takes to live out our faith. Our feelings of inadequacy hold us back in our faith, our calling, and our life. The truth is that God has given each of us all we need in order to do exceedingly above and beyond what we think.
I Corinthians 1:7 says, “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NLT). You and I have been given EVERY spiritual gift we need. God knows what plans He has for you and has already given you those gifts. It’s up to us to unpack them from our bandaid box, develop them, and use them the way they were intended. As you become more mature in your faith, your ability to effectively use the gifts God has given you will increase.
You may not see your giftings right now, but they’re there. If you’ve never taken a spiritual gifts test, I encourage you to look one up online or ask your pastor about one they trust. I Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” That means that you are gifted and God wants to use those gifts to help someone else in their faith. The word “inadequate” doesn’t fit any of us so quit believing it and applying it to your life. “Equipped” is a better word for who you are.
I once heard of a man who worked as a construction foreman. He worked for the same man his whole career. When it came time to retire, his boss asked him to build one more house. Reluctantly he agreed. On this particular house, his heart wasn’t in it. He cut corners, allowed shoddy work, and didn’t take his time to do quality work. All he could think of was retirement, so he wanted to build the house quickly.
When the house was finished, the boss came out to do a final walk through as was their custom. When he pointed out things here and there, the foreman made excuses. At the end, he asked him if he was happy with his work. He said he was. Then the owner said, “Thank you for doing this last house got me. You have done great work in all the years you have worked for me. I want to thank you for your hard work and faithfulness by giving you this house.” The foreman showed appreciation, but in his heart, he remembered how poor of a job he did.
In Malachi, God was upset because they were offering poor sacrifices. They offered blind, diseased, and crippled animals to God. When God called them out on it, they asked how they had defiled his altar. In Malachi 1:12, God said, “You dishonor my name with your actions” (NLT). Then in Malachi 3:8, He said, “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.” Just like the foreman, they offered shoddy offerings to God. Their heart wasn’t in their gifts to God.
I’ve heard it said that our talents are God’s gift to us. What we do with them are our gifts to Him. Beyond our gifts of money, our actions are a gift to God as well. What kind of offering are you giving God? Are you cutting corners, offering shoddy work, or lowering the quality of your work? Are you being thankful to God for the gifts He’s given to you? Psalm 50:23 says, “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” We can’t afford to cheat and dishonor God through our actions any more.
As you know, David was told by God that he could not build the temple. God had told him that his son Solomon would build it. In II Chronicles 22:5, David recognized that his son Solomon was young and inexperienced. He then decided to make preparations for building the temple. He ordered everything that Solomon would need in order to build the temple. Even though Solomon had everything he needed to be successful, it was up to him to do something with all the material if he was going to build successfully.
Success doesn’t lie in having the things God gives us, it lies in doing something with them. In Matthew 25:14-30, we read the Parable of Talents. Jesus told the story of three men who had been given bags of silver from their master according to their abilities. Two of the servants took that material and invested it while one hid it. When the master returned, it was the ones who did something with the material who were considered successful, not the one who let it sit.
I Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (NLT). God has given each of us the materials to be successful just like David did for Solomon and the master did for his servants. The question is, are you going to let the materials sit there or are you going to do something with them? You can’t let the fear of being unsuccessful to prevent you from doing anything. If you do nothing with what God has given you, you’re no better than the man ho buried his bag of silver.
If God has given you a dream, quit often it’s as big as the task given to Solomon to build the temple. You may look at yourself and think you’re too inexperienced to do what God called you to. If you read the Bible, the greatest heroes of faith were the ones who didn’t let their inexperience keep them from their calling. They trusted God to do His part, so they did theirs. It’s up to each of us to take the gifts God has given us and put them to use. The greatest successes in life start with the smallest of steps. What can you do today to get started on your journey of success?