Imagine for a second that it is your 40th birthday. You are already a bit uncomfortable about the landmark moment (who wants to admit that they have arrived at such a serious point of adulting in their life?). In some ways, you would like the day to just quietly slip on by.
But no, your sweet spouse has spent considerable time thinking about this day and how to celebrate it properly. So, right there at breakfast, the gifting begins. Coffee is in place, your favorite breakfast has been made, and it’s time to open your first gift of the day.
Maybe they wrapped it themselves (maybe not), but the presentation is lovely. The colors are bright, and the box looks inviting. So, your mind starts to reel with expectation (maybe the woman thinks: “Is it those earrings I mentioned?” or the guy mulls over: “Did she remember which pocket knife I hinted about?”).
Slowly, you start unwrapping the gift, and there it is. But wait, no. It’s not earrings or a new pocket knife; it is a vacuum. Or it’s a new toothbrush, or a filing system, or something else that is entirely utilitarian in nature. We were hoping for something fun, something with some pizzazz, something showy. We had in mind something extravagant, and instead, we got something useful.
But this week, I got to thinking that our discussion about the gifts of the Spirit often has the same affect. We are hoping for something showy, we would like to partner with the third person of the Trinity and “get ‘er done” with some pizazz. We want our gifts to shine. Somehow, we think those gifts are an expression of our own abilities (or at least the abilities we would like to have).
But nothing can be further from the truth. God gave His gifts for a specific purpose, and it wasn’t to glorify ourselves. As Chet pointed out, they are to profit (help, give value and meaning to) the body of Christ. Spiritual gifts help edify or build up the church, and they are to assist the body as it tries to operate in a sinful world.
“Profit, edify and help operate” the church? Boy, these don’t sound like scintillating gifts. They sound a bit utilitarian or useful.
Yep, they are. The gifts of the Spirit are useful. They are meant to bring honor and attention to Christ and His bride (the Church). They are not personal scouting badges that we wear on a sash and brag about. They reflect our allegiance to Him and His Church.
So, this week, let’s all think about those gifts. Let’s ignore our tendency to make the discussion about us. Instead, let’s focus on how we can be useful for the Master. If we do shift that focus, our spiritual gifts will help us become “… an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, USEFUL to the master and prepared for any good work,” (2 Timothy 2:21).
Sherry Worel is a Bible teacher at heart and lives a life of ministry. She’s been involved at Coast Hills teaching Women’s LIFE, Bible studies, online courses, devotionals, participating in Upstream conversations, and much more. Having a love for education, Sherry has over 50 years of teaching experience with schools, churches, and mission agencies. As well as earning her Master’s at Talbot Seminary, she rounded out her education with 35 years as Head of School at Stoneybrooke Christian School. Sherry is happiest with a book or fishing pole in hand.