How Should We Use Our Gifts?

February 21, 2022

As children of God, we get used to God’s gifts so much that we sometimes start demanding them from him. I easily forget that all I have has been freely given to me by God (James 1:17) and I begin to feel entitled to the talents and resources I’ve enjoyed. We humans can easily take pride in our gifts and selfishly use them for our own benefit instead of building up the Body of Christ. We can boast about our gifts, forgetting God is the one who gives and takes away. But our good Father makes decisions about what is best for his children, even if that comes through his loving discipline. We are reminded in 1 Peter 4:10 that “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

I take many gifts for granted on a daily basis: my health, family, friends, job, passion, creativity, and love for the Word. When any of these gifts are taken away from me, I too often become bitter and harden my heart or run crying out to God to have it back. I’ve become entitled! I find myself questioning God’s goodness and acting up like a spoiled child. In these moments, I find grace in the words of Hebrews 12:11: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

2020 was a challenging year, one in which God removed some of my gifts so I could learn how to lean fully on him. Prior to 2020, I was thriving at work and was blessed with more opportunities to lead than I ever had before. I felt like God gave me a gift of leadership, and I was able to exercise it with passion and boldness. When the pandemic hit, I was isolated and experienced what felt like the loss of this gift. I was trying to make things happen and lead in my own strength, but I felt burned out, spiritually drained, and exhausted. What was happening?

Finally, I fell on my face in prayer, and God showed me that I had been leaning on my successes rather than leaning on him. So when I started experiencing more failures than successes in leadership, it felt like my world was falling apart. I had taken his gift for granted and had wrongly used it for my own benefit, enjoying the power and self-promotion it provided. He reminded me that I came from the dust and apart from him I can do nothing. But even though I don’t deserve God’s blessings, he lavishes his favor upon me, and I can be confident that he is always working all things together for my good (Romans 8:28). No failure is too big or too little for him to use for his purposes. God’s perspective is so different from mine.

This experience humbled me and taught me that all my gifts come from God. Although I can easily misuse them, he can help me use them for his good purposes, and that brings joy and fulfillment.  I’m thankful for God’s pruning work in my life and his help in my time of need, and I pray that God will enable us all to use our gifts for his glory.

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