How many of you receive presents that you don’t use? Okay, many of us have received gifts that were unwanted, but even these should still be appreciated because of the love and thought that led to them being given. But, even if you received a present that was unwanted, you at least know if it is useful or wanted. How? Because you have opened it. We generally (if not always) at least check out what the gifts are.
Before I go any further, I would like to stop and consider the Christian idea of grace. Grace in one form means “unmerited favour:” something we receive that we don’t deserve. It also carries the idea of a “gift:” it is given freely, not “earned.” The ultimate gift of grace is salvation. It is offered to all. But like any gift, the present on offer is not yours until you accept it. It’s as simple as that. God so loved the world that He sent his Son to die for all. That is not the same as saying He died, now all are saved. Rather, it is He died, and all that accept that sacrifice (the gift) are saved.
But for those that have accepted the gift of salvation, and become the people of God there is more on offer. These too need to not be rejected. Scripture reminds us that,
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:7-11).”
Wow. We have been given the ultimate gift of love. We therefore should show that same love to others. Love (Christ’s and ours) covers many sins (and in Jesus’ case all sins). As fellow recipients of the gifts of God we should share our blessings – offering hospitality not out of obligation, but love.
We who have received gifts likewise should use them. We should not leave them unwrapped, or left “on the shelf.” Paul tells us about these presents from the Spirit in I Corinthians 12,
“The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides (verses 7 to 11).”
Whether you are a teacher, a preacher, and organiser, or a just a loving ear that listens – you should use the gift.
Jesus said that a city on a hill can’t be hidden, nor do we light a lamp then hide it under a basket. If we have gifts, let’s display (and use) them proudly.