Ephesians 4:7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
This theme is mentioned repeatedly in the New Testament, elsewhere by Paul (1 Corinthians 12:7, Romans 12:6) and Peter (1 Peter 4:10). Different words are used for “gifts” in the Greek, and various books have been written on the subject, but the point that echoes in me most strongly right now is that everyone has been gifted, and it’s all grace. I find two major errors in people’s thinking on this subject. The first is self-deprecation: “Oh, I’m not really gifted in anything.” That causes people to devalue themselves and fail to be good stewards of what God has given them. Everyone has things they find rather simple and/or easy to do, that other people find much more difficult. That’s a sign of gifting. Satisfaction and accomplishment in life come only when we exercise those gifts as God intended when He gave them to us. Those gifts may be evident to others, and they may not. The point is for us to recognize and use them, not only for our own good but also to bless others, as both Peter and Paul said. The second big error relating to gifting is the failure to recognize that it is all grace. Human beings in general have a real tendency toward pride. “This is my gift. I can do this.” Since most such gifts are encoded into our DNA, they are hardly something we choose ahead of time! (That’s one of the bigger problems with “designer babies,” with parents choosing what traits they want for their children. That was strictly science fiction just a few years ago, but now it is all too possible, and is even being practiced to eliminate genetic defects. That is an ethical and legal “can of worms” that poses huge dangers.) When gifting is for the most part something we are born with, why are we proud of it? We are responsible for what we do with the gifts we have received, and God will indeed multiply His gifts to the faithful, but we must never forget that it is all grace. We are all too prone to think of God’s gifts as “merit badges,” when that will virtually guarantee misuse of those very gifts.
This is probably so big in my awareness because God has been absurdly gracious to me. I’m no athlete, but in other areas I have found very little that I cannot do. Frankly, pride has been a major issue for me. I have had trouble empathizing with others who have struggled with things that came easily to me. Over the years I have gained an increasing appreciation for God’s grace, not only for how He has gifted me but also for His refraining from squashing me for my stupid pride! The most dramatic moment of that was when I was 24, and He tapped me on the shoulder, figuratively speaking, and showed me a mirror to see the blackness of my own soul. I was devastated. I wish I could say I’ve had no pride issues since then, but that would hardly be true. Now, as a pastor my task is to help believers recognize, develop, and use the gifts they have been given. (Ephesians 4:12) I find so many are blind to what God has done in them, and so fail to let Him exercise those gifts through them. I don’t have sufficient wisdom to nurture believers on my own, but I know that God can do it through me, so I must not draw back. He will build His Church (Matthew 16:18) for His glory.
Father thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all that You are doing in this church in these days. Help me fulfill the part that You have for me in that, not drawing back and not running ahead, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!