I'm good at _______
What are you good at? Maybe you have a natural talent, like athletic or musical ability. When we receive Christ’s gift of salvation, we are given spiritual gifts – or supernatural endowments – to be used for God’s glory. Some that are listed in the Bible are service, encouragement, teaching, shepherding, administration, wisdom, and evangelism (Rom 12:6-8, I Cor 12:4-11, Eph 4:11-12, I Peter 4:10-11). As long as we have an accurate, Scriptural understanding of what they are, why we have them, and how and why we’re to use them (explained below), is it okay for us to believe and perhaps even humbly make the statement, “I’m good at _______”? I did that very thing the other night as I was meeting with some godly women. But in the light of day, I felt like I needed to better explain it. So I went to the Word. Here are some things the Lord showed me.
I know I am dust (Gen 3:19, Ecc 3:20), yet I was made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), yet my heart is desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). I know that I can do nothing apart from Christ, but I have been chosen by Him to bear fruit that will last if I abide in Him (John 15). The same is true of you if you have a saving relationship with Jesus.
So how do spiritual gifts fit into those seemingly opposing truths about us? First of all, we know they are gifts – or graces – that are bestowed upon us, not because we have earned or somehow deserve them. But because God has chosen to give them. They are not to make us feel good about ourselves or give us something to do but are for the common good or benefit of all (I Cor 12:7). And we are not to be ignorant about them (I Cor 12:1). So instead of shying away from the topic because it makes us uncomfortable, we should seek the Lord for a better understanding of it. We cannot separate these gifts for the intentional, intimate, and individual way He knit each of us together (Ps 139:13). And we also know that we are saved to serve (Eph 2:10).
But what should our attitude be towards these spiritual graces?
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (ESV underline mine)
Sober judgment means to be of sound mind … to put a moderate estimate upon oneself, think of oneself soberly (Thayer). It is an honest, humble evaluation. It’s knowing what we’re good at and what we aren’t so we can make the best use of our time and resources and accomplish all the Lord has for us to do and be. To fulfill those good works He prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10). There is a warning in this verse not to overestimate our value, but it’s coupled with a call to accurately assess ourselves and our gifting. In my personal experience, nearly all the women I’ve encountered have too low an opinion of themselves in this area. This is just as prideful as thinking more highly of ourselves. Whether we think our gift is better than others or has no value, or that we have everything or nothing to offer our Lord, our focus is on ourselves which is pride. Sober judgment allows us to evaluate ourselves through the filter of God’s truth then cast our eyes fully on Him and serve in His strength for His glory.
Other attitudes we need to have on spiritual gifts come from Paul’s letters to the Corinthians.
II Corinthians 3:4-6 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (ESV underline mine)
II Corinthians 4:7 For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (ESV)
These verses speak of perspective and reality. We are sufficient [have the ability or competency to do a thing (Thayer)] because God has made us that way. And why? To be ministers of the new covenant. The word used here is diakonos and means one who executes the commands of another… (Thayer). So even the abilities God gives us are not so we can do what we want, but rather that we can accomplish His work, in His way, for His glory. And since the gifts and abilities we have were given to us, how can we boast about them?
What I’ve shared above may not be new to you. But I believe it lays the Scriptural groundwork to make a crucial point regarding spiritual gifts. One that makes it okay, and perhaps even necessary, to think (though not dwell on) and maybe in appropriate circumstances to modestly and respectfully say, “I’m good at _______.” This is because I believe we can’t fully enter into serving God until we humbly and thankfully acknowledge the areas where He has gifted us – the things we’re good at because of how He created us and what He bestowed upon us for His purposes: to build up the Body, be His hands and feet, and bring Him glory. If we’re constantly second guessing our giftedness, how can we be effective serving in it?
I think there’s a lot of spiritual warfare regarding spiritual gifts. Satan, our flesh, and misunderstanding of these graces, have caused many to be trapped or hindered by the lie that thinking I have little or nothing to serve the Lord with is godly humility when it is actually the opposite. And it keeps us from accomplishing the work God has for us, or doing it to the fullest. The Almighty doesn’t need us (Acts 17:25), yet He has given us the privilege of being a part of Kingdom impacting work, along with the ability and responsibility to do it. May we never allow anything to get in the way of that.
This can also help us be gracious when someone encourages us in our gifting. Instead of downplaying or dismissing their words, we can see them as a confirmation of our calling, as well as an affirmation from the Lord that we are gifted in this area, are doing it well, He is using it, and He is glorified through it.
So take some time to prayerfully and humbly consider what God has made you good at. Then seek Him for ways to serve Him in it!
Just something I hope brings some clarification and encouragement along the way.