So… what do YOU want to be when you grow up?
I believe that, for the most part, it’s fair and accurate to say that we’re working so that we can pay the bills. However, just for a moment, consider the following… if you didn’t have to worry about ‘paying the bills’, what would you do for ‘work’? Have you ever considered what you were ‘called’ to do? In a perfect world, we’d be working in that place we were called to be working, but more often than not, I know for me, at least, I’m finding that the closer I listen to God and reflect on His words, the more clearly I’m getting where God wants me to be. Problem solved, right? Not really… actually, knowing in my head is different from knowing in my heart where I’m to be. If you’re saying “but where’s your faith, Greg?”… I know… it’s something I’m working on daily. I struggle daily with what John said in John 6:29… “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.” Simple sentence, but great impact and even greater responsibility on us as believers! I felt a very definite connection between what was being spoken in the Proverbs reading and 1 Corinthians… relating of wisdom and instruction to gain understanding; to know that what we learn may not coincide with the current-day thinking; and to trust God with all our hearts, as even Solomon, a man with so much shared through his experiences.
In a recent conversation with my brother, I learned that he was ‘angry’ with me. After thinking for a while as to why and coming up empty, I asked him directly. His response? “You always knew what you wanted to do in life… you have so many gifts!” REALLY? Did I really always know what I wanted to do? I mean, I always knew I loved all-things-technology, so I guess I’ve always done something technology-related, whether design, analysis, teaching… but what were my driving factors? What drove me to do what I was doing then and now? And these gifts he was referring to… were these my gifts? Hmmmmmmm… After reflecting on these questions and after reading the Proverbs and 1 Corinthians passages for today’s writing, I’ve come to one main conclusion… God is *amazing*! How He knows how to do what He does leaves me speechless! And, that He wants to use a broken vessel like me has me looking up and saying “Why *me*? Certainly you have others far more qualified than I.” But how do I reconcile what my brother was trying to tell me. What gifts was he referring to? I needed to reflect on what were natural gifts and what were spiritual gifts?
A dear friend of mine recently shared with me “… if you want to get close with your kids, become interested in what they are interested in… you’ll be connected for life.” Well said and very true. We have a God who loves us so much, that He is willing to meet us where we are and begin the work of gently leading us to greater things to reflect His plan for our life. And our part in this plan? Simple… to say “Yes!” and believe. Well… maybe not so simple… for if it were, we’d all be using our spiritual gifts for God’s work, but that isn’t the case… at least not yet.
In 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, Paul shares how God uses different people in different capacities.. he speaks about the various gifts being distributed by the same Spirit. And while there are different kinds of service and work, we should rest in knowing that it is all the same God at work within us. Paul goes on to reflect on gifts, service, and works, and concludes that they are roughly equivalent, just as we recognize that Lord, God, and Spirit are the same. So gifts, service, and works are not necessarily distinct categories. Instead, together, they highlight different perspectives of the same focus.. that gifts are given and not something that we can take credit for ourselves; that gifts are given to us by our Father to help others here on earth, and we can’t help but do works to reflect God within us to produce results to honor Him. The focus here is that God works in different ways in all of us.
After reading 1 Corinthians 12 multiple times, I started to ask myself… “what are my spiritual gifts?” “Could I lose my gifts if I didn’t use them?” “Can I get better at the gifts I’ve been given through practice?” I believe that God is faithful and loves us so intensely, He doesn’t operate as I sometimes do, on emotion. I believe that in God’s overall plan, He has a purpose for each of us and has planted in each of us spiritual gifts that has us being energized once we realize what they are. (If you have time, do yourself a favor and take the Spiritual Gifts Test… it will open your eyes! My spiritual gifts were identified as Wisdom, Mercy, Leadership, and Administration. There is an explanation of each of the spiritual gifts provided… very insightful!)
After reflecting on these readings, I believe that we have nothing to do with God’s spiritual gifts provision for us… not our work, our obedience, even our belief. The notion of “use it or lose it” is not part of God’s language for us… God extends to us, by grace, gifts of the Holy Spirit to glorify Him. As for differentiating between natural and spiritual gifts… natural gifts are those that I can offer to God… offer to Him for His glory. Spiritual gifts, however, are those that God gives to us with no connection to any merit or favor. God alone is responsible for what He graces us with. We, as His children, by His grace, are responsible for what we become because of what we’re given.