Gifts from God
So you have some gifts.
Call them strengths or talents, or even something you worked really hard to develop, not a natural gift–like discipline in the area of money management. From a Christian worldview, what’s the point? If it’s true that the gifts God gave you are to be used for His purposes–and I believe that it is–then what does that mean in your day-to-day life? When Jesus Christ set a new bar for tithing (here’s a secret, tithing isn’t just about currency, it’s also about time and talents) – not the 10% of the old testament but the New Testament guides us to “take what you need and give the rest away”. He was asking us to live by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wasn’t living in the people of the Old Testament, they had the law. Christ speaks in the New Testament of gifts, giving, loving and serving often. He uses wonderful parables to help us to understand that it’s about obeying God through the Holy Spirit and about “US”, not about “ME” and what I can accomplish. The parable of the talents and the prodigal son comes to mind (more the prodigal son’s brother). If I’m really good at time management, or disciplined at managing money and my spouse, friend or neighbor isn’t, what am I to do with that? Should I be a witness? Should I teach others in this area of strength? Should I just help and carry an extra load in this area? Yes, yes and yes. Although be careful about the teaching – it needs to be welcome. The hardest of these options is carrying the load. The prodigal son’s brother carried the load and ended up bitter and resentful of the love and acceptance showered upon the prodigal son. Why should I carry to load for a spouse who is capable (according to my read on his or her heart) of doing a better job? I’ll use my own home as an example; I have greater strength in the area of routine, and discipline in the area of mundane chores than does my husband. He has greater difficultly getting on board with the cadence of a twice a day house “pick-up” than I do. This duty is on his chore list – I have the cooking and laundry. So what’s the appropriate response? Witness (be a good example – with the right heart attitude), teach (where and when appropriate – some relationship aren’t ready for this), and carry the load. If he misses his chores and since I have a strength in this area, I can carry the load for him. So how do I manage my own attitude and heart? Some of us have great difficulty not judging others weak areas against our own strengths and talents. First and foremost, it’s about welcoming the Holy Spirit to minister to us in these moments. As we take a mental inventory of what we’re feeling when our spouse doesn’t complete his task, we must do so in the presence of God so that He can guide our heart and actions. Secondly, from a purely practical standpoint there is the realization that you will carry others in some areas of life, and others will carry you from their areas of strength. If your heart attitude is right then it would be a blessing to be full of gifts, strengths and talents and to carry the burden often. On the other hand, if your heart attitude is wrong, if your weakness is a “me first” attitude, then you will be habitually in a place where you’re asking yourself why YOU should have to pick up the slack for others who are perfectly capable (from your judgment anyway) You will find yourself being critical in your thought life, pulling away from the very loved ones you are there to carry. The Lord gave us these strengths, gifts and talents to share and bless others with. This would be easier if we didn’t have the internal struggle with trying to judge the other persons heart, motives and capabilities. That’s why God asks us to leave that up to Him, we are not capable, as our flesh is so prone to self-preservation, self-protection and self-importance. What if the gift is the ability to manage money well, or to make money hand-over-fist? Ouch! You mean we need to witness, teach and carry in this area as well? Shouldn’t we get to keep more of what WE earned because we worked hard, sacrificed, followed the rules and did the right thing? Why should my hard work bless the lazy bum who has the ability to work hard but chooses not to? If I manage my money well and my best friend indulges in pedicures, massages and fancy clothes, why should I lend her money –or give her money when she runs out. I went to yard sales after all! Wow –real, hard-core Christianity is tough. It requires sacrifice. We will be asked to sacrifice what’s closest to our hearts. The refining fire, the maturity of the Christian walk will ask us to give from our area of strength. It’s why God gave us talent, gifts and strengths – to help support the body of Christ. Our flesh desperately wants to hold onto these talents and call them our own – not God’s tools. Just like we want to hold on to the money WE earned. Who do you think gave you the talents, gifts, abilities, attitude, energy and support to earn all that money? Who does the money really belong to? Take what you need and give the rest away – it’s true sacrifice for the team (humanity). That’s true of your abilities (intellectual gifts included here) and time, not just your wallet. So how do you keep from being taken advantage of? That’s the beauty of this design – the only way to keep yourself from being taken advantage of in this system, and to keep you truly giving all that you don’t actually need, is to stay very close to the Father in heaven through the Holy Spirit. While you may be holding on to $200 that someone else needs, God may be standing waiting to replace it in full or more. Hearing or sensing the prompting from the Holy Spirit takes some focused time and effort to develop, and sometimes the experienced miss a prompt. Thank God we are not expected to be perfect this side of heaven. The closer you live to the model that Christ demonstrated and taught, the more inner joy you will have on earth, and the greater your reward in heaven. Often- if not always-the Lord may be working on the giver more than the person who receives. Think about it.