“God has given to each of you from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.” (1 Peter 4:10)
The following was sent to me via email some time ago.
I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently, in response to my pastor’s sermon, have decided to let God work through me. His sermon three weeks ago challenged the congregation in a simple but powerful way. The third point on his outline was simply the word “Smile.” The challenge was to go out and spread God’s joy by smiling at three people and rely upon God to give opportunity. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway, so, I thought this would be a piece of cake, literally.
Soon after the challenge, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonalds one crisp March morning. It was our way of sharing special time with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch … an overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible “dirty body” smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men.
As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was “smiling”. His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance. He said, “Good day” as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his helpmate. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, “Coffee is all Miss” because that was all they could afford. If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action.
I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand. He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, “Thank you.” I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, “I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.” I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, “That is why God gave you to me, Honey. To give me hope.”
This story illustrates the importance of our spiritual gifts and why we should find out what they are, use them, and enjoy them. Being aware, and practicing our spiritual gifts bring an exciting level of contentment to our life and Christian walk. Indeed, it is the use of our spiritual gifts that allow God to work through us in powerful and extraordinary ways. The scriptural mandate to be a light in the darkness is not given to use devoid of the means to accomplish it. Father equips each and every believer with the necessary gifts to accomplish the tasks He has placed before them in life. The responsibility then is upon each Christian to identify, hone, practice, and experience the fullness of that gifting.
It is crippling to the church that so few Christians have made an effort to identify their spiritual gifts. It is, perhaps, one of the main reasons why the church has lost its impact on society to the degree it has. It is also why so many of our churches have reached a plateau or are in decline. The church has grown in dysfunction because members are (with an honorable servants heart) serving their church in capacities that are not specific to their gifting. Our church members are responding to presented needs in the congregation with the heart to serve God and church, but they should seek to be preemptive not reactive. In such a scenario, the need is fulfilled by a willing person, not a gifted person. This usually exasperates the servant and the task is completed to a less-than-ideal degree. Mediocrity is killing us! God’s people need to step back a moment. Step back and evaluate why the need was there in the first place. If we have the confidence that Father will supply our every need, we must ask: Why did the need have to be presented? What caused the deficiency?
I understand that what I am about to say will evoke criticism, and I agree that this “ideal” will never be fully realized in our temporal existence, but at the same time we need to set our expectations for ourselves as high as possible that we may achieve our utmost for Father.
The need was brought to the congregation because someone who had the gifting to meet that need had not yet realized their spiritual gifts or, worse still, refused to fulfill their assignment in the body.
Consequently, another member of the congregation (someone less qualified, bless their heart) stepped up to fill the deficiency. It’s that simple. The church needs to return to effectiveness and clarity of purpose and such an endeavor begins with the individual pursuit of ones spiritual gifting.
Imagine: You are home with your children. Your security is instantly shattered as you awaken to the breaking of a downstairs window. Instantly you mind screams “intruder.” You heart pounds, your mind races, as you think about your children two rooms away. You dial 911 as you listen to footsteps ascending the stairs. You have never felt such fear. You run to your children’s room, grab them, and hide in the closet. Moments later the rescue workers arrive. They are dressed in fireproof suits, air tanks strapped to their backs, hoses in hand. Although they are able to scare the attacker away, they were ill equipped to take him into custody. They had the wrong set of tools, the wrong training. Sure, they were able to knock the attacker down with the water from their hose, but it ruined your house and the attacker got away. You suppose that was a sufficient outcome… You grow concerned as you thank the firefighters for rescuing you and notice that your neighbor’s house is on fire and it’s the police department, guns drawn, that is desperately trying to extinguish the flames.