You may not have noticed, but we are subtly walking through a blog mini-series over the last four posts (including today’s). God honors the intentional communication of what His word says, and we are always helped to think about how we apply what He has written to our present-day realities. Thus far in this little series we have covered:
- The call to never let our age undermine our testimony for Christ
- Our need to intentionally consider and then regulate both our speech and our behavior as Christians
- The high priority of keeping the Bible central in the development of our beliefs about… everything.
Today, I want to share a simple concept for you to consider. I want to lay forth some thoughts for you about the way God has uniquely gifted you. Continuing in the same 1st Timothy 4:12-16 passage, we read at the beginning of verse 14,
“Do not neglect the gift that you have…”
Every believer in Jesus has spiritual giftedness. God gave you much more than a punched ticket to Heaven when you were born again. The Holy Spirit made you His temple and, when He entered you, He brought His gifts. Additionally, God has hardwired you mentally, temperamentally, emotionally and functionally to be good at something. Your human capacity merges with Holy Spirit’s supernatural gifting, and you become useful in the plans and purposes of God. Paul and others recognized the gifting that Timothy had received from God, and the older Apostle was charging Timothy to never neglect what God had placed in him. That’s a good word for each of us.
How has God made you? What is your longing – where does your heart gravitate in the Kingdom? If you were permitted by God to do one thing with your life, what would that be? As we think through questions like these, let’s also recognize that our passions most likely connect with God’s purposes for us. I am not one of those sour-puss Christians who believe that God intends to make you do something for Him that you hate doing. On the contrary, I believe that He gives us desires in our hearts which compel us to pursue what He has set aside for our life-purposes. This reality is revealed in my own story. I’ve been a communicator since I was a toddler. My elementary school report cards all said the same thing: Jeff talks too much in class. I was taught to read by age four and have always loved words and books. From the sixth grade through graduating high school, I was the class clown who always had something to say. Long before I was ever a Christian, my mouth and mind were the two instruments which I used the most often. Three months after my conversion in 1994, God spoke to me on a Wednesday night and solidified in my spirit that my life purpose was to communicate Kingdom truth to others. My great love for books focused in like a laser on learning to love the great book, the Bible. God made me to love to read and to talk, so He purposed for me to be a preacher of His Word. Do you see how it works? My natural abilities and my heart’s desire intersected with God’s purposes in a moment of time. By faith, I said yes to His calling and began to use my abilities for His glory instead of squandering them on lesser things. It may appear a little too simplistic, but I stand by what I am writing here. I think if you can take some time to answer the question, “What do I love to do that I believe I am good at?”, then God will show you how He placed that within you for Kingdom purposes.
Yet those gifts, those desires, those purposes can become faded and dull if we do not also pay attention to what Paul said to Timothy.
“Don’t neglect what God places inside of you, child of God.”
Gifts, when they are kept in regular usage, remain sharp and effective. Gifts, when neglected, become dusty, brittle and ineffective. One way our gifts are neglected is by us devoting our time and efforts to things for which we are not gifted by God. There is a reason why I do not spend much time as a pastor making house calls and hospital visits. Neither do I any longer devote large chunks of time to counseling. You won’t find me on a helps-project with a nail-gun in my hand. Why do I not endeavor to accomplish these important things? Because I am wholly unsuited for them. I make a mess of things in these settings. Things like these I have mentioned (and many others) are not the things which God has assigned to me as my primary functions in His Kingdom. Could it be that you might be devoting too much time and energy to things for which God has not equipped you? We neglect our gifts by remaining occupied with things which do not develop our gifts. They become unused Kingdom muscles which atrophy. For most of you reading this post, there is no danger of your being lazy, and therefore neglecting your gift. Quite the opposite actually. Most of you would run the risk of being too actively involved in matters to which God has not assigned nor equipped you. The result is a neglected gift which others do no benefit from. We should be aware of this negative potential and regularly inventory what we are doing with our time and abilities. Good things are not necessarily the right or best things.
I encourage you to give some thought to what has been shared here today. Life is short, and your God-birthed passions are important. You cannot devote yourself to multiple priorities and expect to be mightily used in all of them. I will risk it…
Pick one thing. Maybe two. But don’t think about three things.
Ask the Father to reveal to you what He has made you good at doing. It may not be what everyone else thinks you should be doing. It may not be what you have been doing either. Ask a few trusted friends what they see as your foremost gifting. Once you have done a little spiritual-research, then start intentionally using your gift by faith. Feel free to start on a smaller scale. God can grow it. Let this be between you and God, no matter the visible results. Do it with Him, not for Him.
You will be surprised at what He begins to do with that gift-muscle in you.