Our Gifts: Part One

Sometimes we feel out of place in our world. We look around and think, I do not belong.  And this is not merely a 21st century feeling. There were some people in the church at Corinth who felt the same way. They examined themselves and said, “I do not belong.”1 Why do we feel that way at times? There are several reasons. First, it could be that our perception of things is incorrect, and that our weariness or our anger or our impatience is distorting our view. That’s the first thing to check.

So, let’s pause here and ruminate on this feeling of not belonging. Believing we do not belong is quite often attached to our desire to make a difference somewhere, to be of use, to matter. Which is understandable, albeit quite self-centered. Oswald Chambers addresses the issue this way: We have to get rid of this notion—“Am I of any use?” and make up our minds that we are not, and we may be near the truth.* As harsh as that sounds, it hits the mark. We are created by God, and he has given us certain gifts that are to be used for others. Just how useful we are is not only immeasurable, it is irrelevant. Embracing this truth is liberating. It will enable us to truly focus on giving our gifts away with no expectations—which is the point of a gift, is it not? And this act of recklessly giving, ironically, is where we become useful! Paul says that it does not make sense to even bring up the issue: “if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.”1  Therefore, the correct response to the statement, I do not belong, is Poppycock! Yes, you do! Of course, you do!  

Second, the feeling of not belonging could be in our hearts because we are comparing ourselves with everyone else (never a good idea) and have deduced that we are different—which is the correct conclusion! Of course, we are different! Paul exclaims, “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?”2 Our part to play is not like someone else’s part. Actually, we might be the essential element to the body that no one else can give.

Third, believing we do not belong might be linked to wondering what others think about us. At Corinth, it seems a church member or two might have told those who were different, “I have no need of you,”3   but Paul reprimands those folks harshly. And our response is to remember whom we are serving, “For am I now seeking the approval of man or of God?”4 It truly matters not, what other people think. When Peter asked Jesus if John was going to join them, Jesus responded, “What is that to you?”5

            What we need to determine is not if we fit in, but where we fit in, to figure out the part we are designed to play in the body of Christ. And I know that some people will argue that these gifts really only apply to a Christian or religious setting, not a secular situation. To which I (again) say Poppycock! There is no secular part of our lives once we have surrendered to the will of God! It’s all inclusive. Everything is connected. Every issue is a spiritual issue.

So, again, our question is what part of the body of Christ is our part? What gift have we been given by God in order to fulfill our service and find our place and purpose in the world? It’s an essential question to answer. And it probably should be asked at different points in our lives. Paul gives us a pretty good list of gifts that God gives to all his children, which, by the way, are applicable in the secular (if you cannot give up the idea of secular) as well as the Christian world. They include sharing wisdom, imparting knowledge, possessing great faith, being able to heal (think about wounded people here), working miracles (think about transforming lives), prophesying (preaching God’s truth), speaking in different languages, interpreting different languages, and administrating things in general. This list is found in 1 Corinthians 12. But also, Paul includes apostles, evangelists, and shepherds in Ephesians 4.  And then in Romans 12, he mentions those who are gifted servers, gifted encouragers, those who love to give generously (think monetary giving), and those who are zealous leaders.

There is so much more to say about this, but let’s pause here and ponder our gifts—not if we belong or have a purpose, for those things are a given—but which gifts we have, and how we can give them away. Which is the point of a gift, isn’t it?

11 Corinthians 12:15   21 Corinthians 12:17   31 Corinthians 12:21   4Galatians 1:10   5John 21:23   *”February 21.” My Utmost for His Highest: The Classic Daily Devotional, by Oswald Chambers, Barbour Books, 2015.

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