God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. -1 Peter 4:10-11
I had a birthday a few weeks ago. As I get older the question “what would you like for your birthday?” gets harder. I love gifts, especially wrapped in pretty paper or gift bags with tissue, but increasingly those bags and boxes are filled with stuff – stuff I don’t really need, don’t have a place for, stuff I’ll have to dust or pack away.
My grown kids have moved on to the concept of ‘gifts of experiences.’ They prefer outings to a new restaurant or trips to places they’ve never been, or lessons for things they’ve never tried. These are all the better if they’re experiences shared with others.
Then, of course, there’s the problem of what you WANT versus what you NEED. With a birthday in early September, as a kid there were always school clothes and some school supplies in those boxes. I like practical gifts, but I can’t really bring myself to give socks and underwear as presents. And I definitely would not want to receive them! That goes for nail clippers and vacuum cleaners too. (You know who you are.)
When it comes to God lavishing us with all kinds of good gifts, He’s not so much interested in giving us what we want as He is in giving us what we need. I often think of the Garth Brooks song lyrics, “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” How often, especially early in our walk, did we pray for jobs, careers, relationships, or possessions that, looking back now, we see would have led us away from God and a life of faith? For me it’s a lot. Those prayers weren’t UNanswered, they got a straight-up “no.” But in exploring why God would break my heart that way, I found that He was working on His own plan for my life. And He was quietly realigning my desires for my future to His desires. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. -Philippians 2:13
Be assured that the Good Lord will meet our needs: “These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:32-33
But His gifts for us, the things He really wants us to desire, are the things which will make an eternal difference for us and for those we interact with daily. Consider what Father God has in His ‘gift closet’ waiting to bestow on us:
A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. -1 Corinthians 12:7-11
Those have not been on my wish lists, but perhaps that’s my failing. Or how about these:
But the Spirit gives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. -Galatians 5:22-23 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. -Ephesians 4:2-3
These gifts make us better people. These gifts allow us to have life more abundantly – to live our best lives by fulfilling our destiny in Christ. And these gifts bring glory to God. We were created to bring glory to God, so naturally, the desire of our heart should be to bring Him glory through Jesus Christ.
I don’t think we can pick these up at Target or have them delivered by Amazon, though, so we’ll have to pray, step out in faith, confess our shortcomings, pray and try again. Actually, that sounds easier than assembling most kids’ toys and household goods – and no batteries required!
Wishes & Blessings,