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It’s Time To Open Your Gifts

January 16, 2016

The Scripture texts for the Second Sunday after Epiphany are Psalm 128; Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11. The Good News Translation of the epistle lesson reads: “The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all.” (1 Corinthians 12:7). We learn three things from this lesson: (1) Each person is gifted with abilities (2) that reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit and (3) that are to be used to build up the body of Christ, the church.

It’s been about four weeks since we opened our Christmas gifts. Gift opening rituals vary from family to family, but it’s a safe bet that all of your Christmas gifts have been opened. You know what was inside every mysterious box or bag that was under the tree. Some of your gifts have already been worn or used, others have not yet been used. Spiritual gifts are like gift cards—left unused in your wallet, they benefit no one. But if you take them out and use them to purchase needed or desired items or experiences, they can be a great blessing to you and to others.

What Are Your Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual gifts are not just the natural talents “that God, out of his bounty, gives to Christians and non-Christians alike . . . Spiritual gifts are only those indwelt by the Holy Spirit ” (Greg Ogden, Essentials of Discipleship, InterVarsity Press, 1998,p. 189).

A partial list is found in the epistle lesson; other examples of spiritual gifts are found in Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4:10-11.

How do you identify your spiritual gifts? Rick Warren offers some practical advice: “Consider your interests and passions: “Don’t ignore your interests. Consider how they might be used for God’s glory. . . God wants you to serve him passionately, not dutifully. . . How do you know you are serving God from your heart? The first telltale sign is enthusiasm. When you are doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you or challenge you or check up on you. You don’t need rewards or applause or payment, because you love serving in this way.” (Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, Zondervan, 2002, pp. 238-239). David G. Benner echoes Warren’s advice: “My temperament, my personality, my abilities and my interests and passions all say something about who I was called to be, not simply who I am . . . We are all called to live the truth of our uniqueness.” (Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself, InterVarsity Press, 2004, pp. 101, 103).

Your Spiritual Gifts Demonstrate the Presence of the Holy Spirit

Some people have the ability to choose just the right gift. These people observe and think about the recipient, so that they can choose a special gift for that unique person. The Holy Spirit is like that. The Holy Spirit knows you from the inside out, and gives you abilities that set you apart as a unique person. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit is manifested or demonstrated in each person through gifts and abilities given to the person (1 Corinthians 12:7, NIV).

Live the Truth of Your Uniqueness

Warren reminds us that “Your spiritual gifts were not given for your own benefit, but for the benefit of others, just as other people were given gifts for your benefit. . . When we all use our gifts together, we all benefit. If others don’t use their gifts, you get cheated, and if you don’t use your gifts, they get cheated.” (Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, pp. 236-237).

It’s human nature to put off using our gifts. Ogden suggests that fear is the most common reason why we bury our gifts: fear of failure or taking risk, fear of confronting personal pain or fear of commitment. (Ogden, Essentials of Discipleship, p. 192). Even Jesus questioned whether is was time to use his gifts at the wedding in Cana when his mother asked him to do something about the wine shortage: “. . . What does this have to do with me? My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

But remember that your gifts are to be used to “. . . lift up and support the body of Christ—not to divide, or to gain notoriety. . . We must never use gifts as a way of manipulating others or serving our own self -interest.” (Note, Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc./ Zondervan Publishing House, p. 2081).

What are you waiting for? Open your gifts! Then use them so that you can be blessing to others.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan





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