Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
Let’s start off with question: How many of you reading this think that you have no gifts and/or talents? If you answered “Yeah sure I have gifts and I have talents and here is what they are…” then you are way ahead of most people living in this world. However, I would be willing to guess that many of you reading this would say “I don’t have any gifts and/or talents” and the rest of this is geared towards showing you that not only has God given you specific interests, specific abilities and specific talents, but he also expects you to put your specific interests, your specific abilities and your specific talents to use in serving him and in serving others. And in order to do that we are going to look at four different things that we need to know about the abilities, interests and talents that God has given you: each of us is uniquely made by God; your abilities, interests and talents are related to the interests and opportunities God gives you; there are no insignificant gifts, talents or abilities; and you must not keep your abilities to yourself.
- Each of us is uniquely made by God.
Psalm 139:14 says this, “I will give thanks to You, because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (NASB). God would give these words to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before your were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NASB).
What these two verses are telling us is this: before we were ever born, God has already determined what your calling in life will be. In the case of Jeremiah it was to be a prophet and in your case it may be something completely different, but that calling is uniquely yours and God has already given you the gifts and talents to live out that calling.
- You abilities and talents are related to the interests and opportunities God gives you.
Have you ever wondered why you have certain interests and why certain opportunities keep coming your way? Unfortunately many us chalk our interests and the opportunities that we come face to face with on a daily basis up to nothing more than fate. We forget that we have been “awesomely and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NASB) and more importantly we forget that God knew us before he formed us in our mothers’s wombs and even more importantly he “consecrated” us to fulfill his specific calling for our lives (Jeremiah 1:5). The whole point is this: Your interests are not just some random things you like, but rather they are directly related to the abilities and talents God has given you from the day you were uniquely created to help you fulfill your God given calling in life. And the same is true for the opportunities that come your way, for God sends them your way based on the interests, abilities and talents he has given you so that you can fulfill your God given calling in life.
- There are no insignificant gifts, talents and/or abilities.
This fact is going to seem strange to some of you because you are used to thinking in the way the world thinks. And how does the world think? The world thinks that if your gifts, talents and/or abilities are not flashy then they are not important. Here is what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in dealing with this issue:
But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one part, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has arranged the parts, each one of them in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But now there are many parts, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those parts of the body which we consider less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor, and our less presentable parts become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable parts have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same care for one another. And if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if a part is honored, all the parts rejoice with it.
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, and various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
And yet, I am going to show you a far better way. 1 Corinthians 12:11-31 (NASB)
Let’s analyze what Paul is telling us here in this rather lengthy passage from 1 Corinthians. Verses 12-26 are an extend analogy of verse 11 (“But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”): a physical body is a single, whole body (unity), and it has many members, or parts (diversity). So it is with the church (v. 27). A church consists of all sorts of people, but they share in common baptism by the Spirit, which occurs when God regenerates a person: Christ places Christians in the Holy Spirit and thus into the body to be healthy and to function optimally. God skillfully designed and arranged each body part within a body exactly as he wanted, and each part is important. Each part works together for the sake of the whole body, because when one body part suffers, the whole body suffers.
In verses 27-31 Paul tells us that God has sovereignly appointed individuals in the church with different spiritual gifts. And that we should think of ourselves as one of many valuable members (diversity) within a singly body (unity). Paul is also telling us that it is sinful for church members to think of themselves as either less or more important than fellow members. We as Christians must be envious or proud about what gifts we have or have not received, because a body want every body part to flourish for the sake of the whole.
In verse 28 Paul numbers the first three gifts. And to rank the gifts in order of importance would contradict what he has been arguing, so the numbering is probably chronological: God first appointed apostles (i.e., the Twelve), then prophets at Pentecost, then teachers (i.e., people who clearly explain and apply Scripture). Each of Paul’s seven questions in verses 29-30 expects the exact same answer: no. All Christians receive some gifts, and no Christian receives all of them. In other words every gift, talent and/or ability that God has given to his followers is important because they enable the “body of Christ” (the Church, which is the universal “body of Christ”) to fulfill its mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB).
- You must not keep your abilities to yourself.
God wants to bless and encourage others through you. In a way, you do not just have a gift; you are a gift from God to others. God has planted seeds of ability in you, and it is your responsibility to depend on God to grow and develop your gifts so that others can benefit from the fruit God produces through you. In a sense, your God-given talents and abilities do not become fully developed gifts until you have given them back to him by blessing and serving others.
Remember you have been uniquely created by God, with unique abilities, talents and interests, all of which have been given to you so that you can fulfill your God given calling. Which in turn means that none of your abilities talents and interests are insignificant because they all help the Church fulfill its God given mission, which means that no matter how small or insignificant you may think your abilities, talents and interests are use them to the best of your ability to bless and encourage others because that is the reason you have been your abilities, talents and interests.
Today’s Bible Readings:
Ezekiel 23, Hebrews 10:18-39, Psalm 109:1-31 and Proverbs 27:13
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