The Purpose of Spiritual Gifts

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;  and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  1 Corinthians 12:4-7

It’s interesting and fun to discover our spiritual gifts.  However, the Bible makes it clear:  the gifts have a purpose, and that purpose is not to puff us up or make us feel superior or special.  Spiritual gifts are given for one reason:  to build up or edify the church.  God did not give us gifts to use to accomplish our own goals, he gave us gifts so that we could spread the gospel and serve others.

When we do a spiritual gifts assessment, we need to be thinking not just, what are my gifts?  We need to ask ourselves these additional questions:

  1. How am I using my gifts?
  2. Am I using my gifts in a way that benefits my church and others in the world?

An unused gift is useless.  A gift that is not used to serve God is also useless.  We don’t all have the same gifts (the verse above makes that clear) and some gifts may be flashier than others;  however, the parable of the talents makes it clear that God expects us to use what we have.   In fact, it’s a use it or lose it situation:  The servant who buried his talents is condemned:

“So take the talent from him and give it to him who has ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance.  But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”  Matthew 25:28-30

Don’t be like that unworthy servant.  Discover your gifts, use them and feel God’s pleasure when you hear the words,

“Well done, good and faithful servant….Enter into the joy of your master.”  Matthew 25:21

 

 

 

 

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Growing Our Gifts

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.  To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.”  Matthew 25: 14-15

Most people are familiar with this parable of Jesus.  It goes on to tell us how the first two servants used their talents to increase the wealth of their master;  the third servant simply buries the talent in the ground.  Those who made more of what they were given are commended as “good and faithful”, while the servant who hid his talent is rebuked as “worthless.”

Image result for the parable of the talent image

The moral?  God gives each one of us talents, too.  Our talents include not only money, but abilities, roles in society and family, education, time, life experiences and more.  If we are His servants, He expects us to use those things to grow His kingdom.  We’re each unique and some of us are able to do more than others;  that isn’t the issue.  God doesn’t say we have to reach a certain level to earn His approval; He doesn’t tell us exactly what to do;  He

simply wants us to continue to grow and progress.  Other parables tell us He is patient …but eventually we’ll have to account for how well we’ve handled what’s been entrusted to us.

This is something each of us needs to think about and assess regularly.  Have you thought about your talents and how you’ve been using them?  Have you made more of what God has given to you?  Have you contributed to His kingdom through good stewardship?  Or are you hiding your talents out of fear or laziness?

Readers and authors, I want to hear your thoughts!

Using our Talents

In my home, over an inner doorway is a plaque.  It’s very plain, not very tall but somewhat long and on that plaque it says:

To Whom Much Is Given Much Is Expected

I’ve had this for several years now and it’s to remind me to be faithful with the talents and gifts that God has given me.

The saying is what I call an “off-quote” (since it’s not exact) of Matthew 25:14-28 more commonly referred to as the Parable of the Talents.  Instead of copying it all here, I’ll give you a synopsis.  A wealthy gentleman was leaving the area and he entrusted three servants with differing amounts of gold, or as the coin was called back in the day, talents.  One received five talents, the second received two talents, and the last servant received one talent.  It doesn’t seem like the servants were given special instructions about what to do with the money they were given, but the first and second servant put the money to work and increased the amounts.  The third didn’t do anything.  When the Master returned he called each servant to account for what they did.  The first two servants had doubled the money and the wealthy Master says to both of them:

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The third servant was fearful.  He was afraid to lose the Master’s money so he had hidden it (kept it to himself) so he wouldn’t lose it.  I’m afraid the Master was pretty rough with him:

‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

This parable is tucked between two other parables.  The chapter starts with the parable of the Ten Virgins and ends with the parable of the Sheep and the Goats.  All of it is an explanation of the Kingdom of God.  It starts with how we need to be ready for the Bridegroom and then moves to what we are to be doing while we wait and the last chapter deals with what happens to the persons that don’t obey the warnings.

I believe this section describes what we are to be doing:

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

These are our “talents”.  This is what we are to do.  We need to take what we are given from the Lord and increase it by giving it away to others.

So, I’m ending this blog with a confession.  Do I do this?  No, not the way I think the Lord would have me do.  I have a long way to go but I’m learning to listen to the Master’s voice.  I’m learning to hear it, so when he tells me to use my “talents” I can hear him.  This blog is an example.  I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since the first of the month and the topic of Obedience.  I need to be obedient and write what is on my heart.  That is something He has called me to do.  I am a reluctant writer.  This does not come easy to me, but I feel that anything the Lord calls you to do, isn’t going to be instantly easy.

I know that if I obey and keep doing what the Lord has directed me to do He will increase it.  I’m going to wrap this up with one more quote, this one from Luke 16:10:

 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.