“But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.” Romans 5:15
A couple of things that happened recently made me think about the idea of “free gifts.”
The first was a story someone read at a Christmas party I attended. It was about a little rabbit who was feeling very alone on Christmas Eve. He had no family and the only things he had to recommend him were his ability to hop and his warm, furry coat, neither of which seemed very important. However, in the course of the story, this bunny learned that these two attributes were gifts –free gifts, and they became very important when the time to use them was right.
The second was a conversation I had with an acquaintance. We were talking about church, and this fellow told me that he was a Christian and regular church-goer, but sometimes he became angry and frustrated with his congregation. “They” always seemed to be hounding him — to give more, to do more. “I’m already doing my part,” he said. “I don’t need to hear that message over and over. Now those people who only come at Christmas and Easter, they’re the ones who need to hear that stuff!”
Here’s the chain reaction these two things started in my mind. I thought about all the “free gifts” that are mine through God’s action in my life. Wonderful things like salvation and eternal life. Then there are the more tangible “free gifts” I get just for being part of St. Paul’s: encouragement, friendship, sympathy–not to mention some extra love and attention when I need it!
There are also the “free gifts” God has given me in my own unique set of abilities and talents. Like the bunny, I often don’t think they are much, but at the right time and place God uses them. I realized that because of all these “free girts” God had given me, I wanted my gifts to Him to be free, too.
That’s not easy. I often give my gifts at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons. I give because someone asked me to or because I think I ought to; I take a job because I feel guilty or am afraid nobody else will do it. When that happens, I don’t feel good about giving.
A free gift requires a different focus. It means taking the initiative to think about what I would like to do, and how my gifts fit in. It means examining each request for my time, talents or contributions honestly to decide if the gift is within my ability to fulfill freely (without strings). This doesn’t mean I never stretch and go beyond my comfort zone. It means sometimes saying no without guilt when it’s not something I can do well. Most of all, it means remembering all the “free gifts” God has given me, and how I should use them to the best of my ability (remember Beth Ann’s post about the parable of the faithful servants).
If I can give my gifts feely, I won’t feel guilty (because I’m giving what I can) and I won’t feel angry(it doesn’t matter what others give, I’m giving what I want to anyway) and I will be thankful. The gift of grace with abound.
I’d like to blog about this more and hear from others. What are your gifts? How can you use them? Do you offer them freely to God? Do they carry a sweet aroma that reminds others of Christ?