Gifts from God are to be used in service

In these days leading up to Holy Week, we have a calling to seek a greater understanding of what these days mean to us as seekers of a meaningful life. What legacy has Jesus Christ left us with? And what are we to do with it?

The Bible is filled with references to the use of the gifts of God. Avowed Christians and, yes, non-believers as well, are uniquely endowed with individual potentials. In 1 Peter 4:10 is a challenge: “As each of has received a gift, employ it for one another as God’s varied grace.”

The Apostle Paul becomes even more specific in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

As no two people are the same, no two gifts are the same. Thus every man, woman and child has the potential to recognize what his or her individual gift is, and to use that gift. However, there is the danger of using a gift for personal gratification. There is danger in seeking something for one’s self, ignoring the needs of others, rather than carrying forth God’s work in the world.

God’s greatest gift to the world was/is Jesus Christ. Jesus was filled with every gift and grace God could bestow upon mankind. I hear the power of His preaching; I learn from the wisdom of His teaching. The Bible is full of His healing ministry, and Jesus is acknowledged as a true man of prophecy.

Yet nowhere in the Bible does it indicate Jesus retained his gifts for his own use. He is continually shown as a man who shares his ministry, and the tools of his ministry, with all who would meet with him, hear Him and respond to His call.

It is the marvel of Christ that he shared and used his gifts not for himself but for others — unselfish to the extreme of giving up life on earth as a sacrifice for you and me.

Someone once told me the calling of God to man is satisfied with Sabbath worship; an hour a week is sufficient. That person is wrong, for God calls us to be his servants all day, every day.

Suppose God gave us one hour a day of his time. When would that hour be, and in what way would God manifest it? No, that person was and is wrong; God is with us at all times and calls us to serve as we are gifted at all times.

Perhaps this individual feels Christianity is only a “receiving” form of worship. Perhaps he or she feels right with God while attending an hour or so of worship and placing a token gift in the offering plate.

If so, he or she has missed God’s real calling, for mankind is not called to a listening faith alone but instead is called to caring for and serving people.

Not everyone is gifted to be a pastor or missionary. Not everyone is called to be a teacher, a doctor or an engineer. Not everyone has the gift of music or writing. But every person is equipped with a heart and soul and a caring potential.

If you are a Christian — or are seeking a place in God’s favor — you have a calling to serve, to use the gifts God has given you to His glory. The way to do this, and the tools to use, are a matter between you and God.

Are you willing to sacrifice some of yourself for others? Jesus did — for you, for me and all the world about us.

Bruce Mitchell is a retired United Methodist pastor living in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.