But Lord, I Want THAT Gift
“It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have” – 1 Corinthians 12:11 (NLT)
For many people, the Christmas (or Chanukah) season is their favorite time of year. The time spent with family, the abundance of favorite foods, and of course the opening of gifts all make this holiday special.
When I was a kid, I was so keen on getting gifts I would often peel back the wrapping paper to get a peak at what was underneath (and I’ll bet you did, too). After all the gifts were unwrapped, I would head outside to gather with my friends and compare gifts which, in Southern California, inevitably included a few new bikes, a skateboard or two and usually one remote-controlled car. However, it seemed to me that no matter how cool my gifts were, there was always some other gift my friends had that I envied. I guess they felt the same, because we usually ended up playing with the other person’s gifts more than our own.
What bothers me is how often I have this same attitude towards the gifts the Holy Spirit has wisely given to me. Instead of enjoying and showing gratitude for the gifts God graciously gave me, I find myself desiring “other” gifts – gifts I see in people that I, with self-proclaimed omniscience abounding, deem more successful than I am. I figure if I had their gifts then I, too, could have what they have: house, car, job, published book, prestige. You know, all those items that are destined to perish. But by doing so, all I’ve really done is whine, tell God I don’t like my gifts and, in a not-so-subtle manner, suggest He made a mistake. The Lord God Almighty, with true omniscience abounding and from the depth of His own mercy and grace, has loved me enough to give me gifts I didn’t deserve, and I in turn thank Him by breaking the tenth commandment as I covet my neighbor’s possessions.
Excuse me for a moment while I head off into a corner and repent.
However, I know I’m not the only one who has problems with the gifts of God. Too often, I’ve heard some Christian say they don’t have any gifts, which doesn’t make any sense. 1 Corinthians 12:11 says God decides which gift each person should have, not some people should have. It is hard to imagine loving parents who only give Christmas gifts to some of their children while neglecting to give to others. Maybe there are some scoundrels like that, but God does not reveal Himself in such a manner.
Paul goes on to say in the rest of chapter 12 that the gifts of God are like the parts of the body – every part is important and has a reason for being there. Likewise, every Christian is important in the Body of Christ and has a part to play, a gift to use, for the overall health of the body. And I guess God knew there would be people like me who would compare their gifts to others, for verse 15 says, “If the foot says, ‘I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,’ that does not make it any less a part of the body.” God has given me a part to play and instead of rejoicing in it, I’ve murmured because I don’t have a different part. What a shame.
My challenge is to stop wanting someone else’s gift and start exercising my own. Being a part of the Body of Christ is not about me, but about the health of the Body as a whole. It’s time to change my prayer from a whiney, “But Lord, I want THAT gift” to a grateful, “Thank you Lord for the wise gift you’ve given me.” Only then will I stop comparing my gifts with the gifts of others and find myself at peace within the Body.
Can you imagine how dynamic the body of Christ would be if we each member not only knew what their gifts were, but joyfully exercised them?
Here’s what I’ve seen in church life. Often there are people serving in ministries that really, the Lord hasn’t gifted them to serve in. For whatever reason (perhaps wishing they DID have that gift?), they insist on contuing in that particular vein of ministry. All the while, someone who IS incredibly gifted in that area sits on the sidelines — stifled — because someone else is taking the ministry that the Lord gifted THEM for.
I understand that there’s a difference between talents and spiritual gifts, but I think the principle applies to both. Each of us was created uniquely by God to perform good works that He prepared in advance for us. He designed it so that all of the pieces coming together would create a beautiful tapestry… but so often we insist on doing things that He never meant for us to do, and in the process we rob someone else (who would be much more effective) of the joy of filling a spot that just might have been created specifically for them.
I’ve been on both sides of this… trying to fill a role that the Lord never intended for me to fill (and ending up feeling miserable for it), and also feeling shut out because someone else who was clearly not gifted in a particular area refused to acknowledge it or even make room for me to even join them in the ministry.
Thanks for bringing this issue to light today 🙂
It’s not so much that I’m envious of another person’s gifts. I’m envious that they comprehend what their gifts are and see how to use them.
I’m hoping that one day soon I’ll get an e-mail from God with a message that goes something like this:
“Kin – Clearly you’re having trouble believing in the gifts I have given you. Do you even know what they are? Hmm. I didn’t think so. Okay, here they are (X,Y,Z). Got it?
Now can you figure out what I want you to do with these? Oh brother… you’re testing the “wisely” part of my gift distribution. Okay, I see you need more help than others. Start here (Action A) and see where that takes you.
I agree with Kin. I look around me, and find people exercising their gifts, and I try harder yet to find out mine. I don’t want to be the servant that hid the one talent he received, rather than use it to grow more talents.
Now, I feel I might end up actually waiting for that email. 🙂
Hi George and Kin;
God has been around a long time, and if God is anything like old people, e-mail is not a favored communications medium.
Maybe a phone call? 🙂