Romans 12:6-8 – We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (NIV 2011)
Don't you just love receiving a gift, especially one that's unexpected? Our Father in heaven is generous and enjoys bestowing gifts on His children. If we allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, God will surprise us. Recently this little gem was presented to me: We serve according to our gifts, not our talents. Wise words — a gift indeed.
We can easily confuse gifts with talents. When something comes naturally to us, we may call it a gift or a talent. It is a gift from God, but it's not our spiritual gift. Our talent might be gardening or perhaps carpentry. It's useful, but it's not included in God's lists of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Romans 12:6-8, and Ephesians 4:11.
An example of this is the apostle Paul, who was a Jewish lawyer and a tent-maker. He had a passion for persecuting Christians. On the road to Damascus, Jesus said to Paul, "You will be told what you must do" (Acts 9:6b NIV 2011). It's easy to do what we like to do, but Jesus requires obedience. Once saved, Paul discovered that encouragement was his spiritual gift. He wrote and preached extensively to encourage believers to grow towards spiritual maturity. He may have sold tents and given free legal advice, but those were his talents. Paul never lost sight of his true purpose: encouraging believers in their walk with Christ. His passion was redirected and his focus was on God. The fire in him never burned out because God was working through him.
When we come to the cross and put to death the old self, we give our life, including our talents, to God. Born again, we receive a surprise gift. It's our responsibility to find and use it for the body of Christ. It's not an easy thing to step into. If it were, we wouldn't have to trust God. We are to serve according to God's will, not our own. Using our spiritual gift, He works through us, and guarantees success. In our weakness, others see God's strength.
People often think that because they're good at something, it must be what God wants them to do in their church. For instance, some women are good cooks, but they may eventually grumble about being asked to supply snacks. Their talent is baking, but their spiritual gift is obviously not hospitality! Some musicians love to perform, but they may start to complain about things and get burned out. We like doing the things we're good at, but it becomes all about us when we do it in our own strength.
Rather, God leads us to a church where our spiritual gift is needed, and in faith, we have to step into it and rely on Him. Then, He gets all the glory.
Is your focus on your deeds rather than on God? Are you burned out from practices and performances, from committees or cookie commitments? Do you find yourself grumbling instead of giving God the glory? You may be using your talent instead of your spiritual gift. I encourage you to give it up to the Lord, and then watch Him surprise you!
Prayer: Father, thank You for the many gifts that You give us. May we not shrug off our talent because it comes naturally, nor take the credit which really belongs to You. Help us to discover our spiritual gifts and step into them to benefit the body of Christ and to glorify You. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Footprints Of Jesus" (Lyrics)