Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Gift

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York has a sermon series on generosity where he explores different aspects of it in an intriguing way. For example, he talks about the need to be generous with the way we use the gifts we have received.

To talk about this, Pastor Keller presented a one-line summary of Genesis 12 which was certainly thought-provoking. I can’t remember the exact words, but the idea was something like: God makes the most amazing promises to Abraham and then He tells him to get out and go!

The point is that God showers us with His generous gifts not exclusively for our own benefit and comfort. The purpose of His generosity is so we can use what He gives us for the good of others…so we can be generous in return. Like with Abraham, God called him and gave him all these blessings and promises, but let´s look closely at verses 2 and 3,

“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

We see here that although God is, indeed giving Abraham many gifts, the personal promises result in promises to all. Basically, all of God´s children will be the recipients of great blessings through the blessings of Abraham. Though in a smaller scale, I think that is how God works in every Christian. And I think we, as Christians, see it pretty clearly. What might not be so clear is the fact that we ALL do receive gifts to share with others.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard dear sisters and brothers in Christ saying that they don’t think they have any gifts. I think that before we make a statement like that we need to meditate on 1 Corinthians 12. Please take a look at that chapter and then let’s consider the following: If we declare that Jesus is Lord, we have the most important gift, the One True Gift: The Holy Spirit.

“…no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.” 
(1 Corinthians 12: 3b)

That is the miracle. That is my greatest Gift: Christ in me.

The rest is just trimmings. As we examine ourselves while performing certain tasks we begin to discover our passion. Notice I said, “while performing…”. I tend to think that we discover our talents as we remain actively participating within the church. In other words, I believe God reveals our gifts as we serve. The more generous we are with our time and abilities, the clearer we see where we fit best. And it happens the other way around as well.

I remember, many years ago, I volunteered to teach in the after-school program our home-church offers to community elementary-age-kids. It didn´t take long for me to discover such area was NOT my gift. I did not enjoy it one bit. The program ran only once a week, on Wednesdays. I’m sad to say that Wednesdays became an ugly day for me. However, I continued to do it out of obedience to God and loyalty to my good friend who was in charge of it. But, simply, it was not my thing. Working with young children is not what I do best. Maybe the Lord will change something within me later in life and I will be able to joyfully serve that age-group…but that change has yet to happen.

The good news is, had I not tried it…I would still be wondering. A few years later, I was approached to lead a women’s Bible Study, and to speak at our annual women’s retreat. I said yes to both invitations, and I LOVED THEM BOTH! I would not have thought speaking at the women’s retreat was going to be anything I’d ever wanted to do, but once I did it, it just felt right.

Again, had I said no because of my nervous temper and constant feeling of inadequacy, I would not have felt such joy. Once again, God reveals His gifts as we serve.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6

We will continue to take a look at our gifts in the coming days. Hopefully this journey will help us discover what God is trying to tell us and where He wants to place us as we serve and love Him and His people.

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