Not Just for Me
Who doesn’t like getting a present? Especially one that’s tailored specifically for us. A friend hands you the newest book from an author you don’t ever remember mentioning. Your spouse surprises you with tickets for a concert by a band you love. A coworker goes out of her way to buy your favorite cookie on your birthday. Whether big or small, these personal acts of kindness bless our hearts. But do we ever think about how we can use these special gifts to help others? Not usually. If someone gives me a present, isn’t it just for me?
Not always. In fact the reason some are given is to be passed along. I’m not talking about handing off that new book before we’ve read it, giving away our concert ticket, or even sharing our cookie with someone. But rather gifts of a spiritual nature, things that can’t be touched or seen. They go way beyond our natural talents and abilities, and are imparted to us when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. They’re from our Heavenly Father and are meant to be used for Him to help, encourage, and strengthen others while advancing the Kingdom of God. Things like leadership, discernment, administrative abilities, being able to teach, service, and hospitality. No one is sure exactly how many gifts there are. But we do know what they are and why they are given.
They are spiritual or grace gifts (I Cor 12:1) – not of or from man and not deserved by us. How could they be if they’re gifts? There are different ones yet they all come from the same source: God (I Cor 12:4-6). And each is given for the common good or benefit of all (I Cor 12:7), not to make us feel better about ourselves or give us something to do. The Almighty determines who gets what and specifically tailors them to each individual (I Cor 12:11). It has nothing to do with our abilities, education, social status, or worthiness. None of us receives these gifts in isolation, but we are to work together in unity (I Cor 12:12-13). And each gift is not only valuable but essential to the work the Lord wants to do through a church, ministry, or other group of Believers (I Cor 12:14-21).
Thinking our gift is insignificant or somehow inferior to others is just as bad as believing ours is better or more important than the ones possessed by those around us (I Cor 12:15-24). After all, both attitudes focus on me and what I have rather than the Giver and how He wants to use them. If we can remember that spiritual gifts are not just for us, but for the benefit others and to glorify God, our focus will be right. And we’ll be humble and eager to serve the Lord in whatever way He chooses.
Just something that adjusts my perspective along the way.