Two weeks ago I watched a video of my friend’s teen daughter doing great gymnastic routines at a meet in Galveston. I’ve also enjoyed seeing my brother’s grandson grow in his rich musical skills. And before Christmas I attended a church play with an extended drum sequence by four lads who had honed their skills with a local high school band. It was a thumping joyful time!
And here’s a lesson to be learned. All of us have similar reports to share. And the more exceptional gifts are what make TV talent shows amazing. We aren’t likely to have that much excitement, but we can share photos and post reports. It’s fun to brag from time to time.
But who should get the ultimate credit? I nominate God since he makes it all go. He is very generous in passing out talents to everyone. He makes sure we all have a gift to share with others. Everyone does. It might be our creative baking, painting, building, speaking, singing, listening, organizing, hospitality, healing, or serving. We’ve all been given unique skills or capacities we can share. Many of us may be closer to good than great in what we offer, but we still have something to share.
Here’s a second lesson. This is true because of God’s nature. He gives, and gives, and gives. He distributes physical gifts, social gifts, intellectual gifts, and spiritual gifts. And the point we’re making here is that we get see this if we just pay attention. And it can broaden our hearts if we realize the gifts all come with his love. He freely shares creative beauty to and through us.
Yet there’s another lesson we may have learned—it’s a tragedy from Adam’s fall in Eden. All of us are curved-in-on-self … so at times we feel naked and ashamed. And we may use our gifts to cover up these insecurities. Or even slip into narcissism with mirror-time and self-promotional online efforts. Or, on the other hand, we may adopt self-demeaning comparisons that overstate the gifts of others and understate what we offer. But it’s still all about us, and it’s broken.
If it’s a problem how can we find a healthy balance? Can we enjoy what others share, and also enjoy sharing what we offer? The answer is yes. It’s exactly what we were made for—to be both adequate and inadequate. To be able both to give and to receive. The balance comes in loving the Lord who made us. When we focus on him instead of on his gifts we get closer to the joy of needing others and being needed by others. It’s the pathway of humble love.
Paul taught this in Ephesians. Believers have gifts “for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ …. [And then] speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (4:12,15,16).
We get to share in Christ’s ambition to create beauty, not by making us into prima donnas, but by giving us a part in his symphony of loving growth. If we enjoy the beauty of our small but rich gifting role, and realize that our limitations give space for others to touch us in our needs, we have what God wants for us. And those who watch us grow together as a body defined by mutual love may want to join us. To come to taste and see that the Lord is good!