I am not a hoarder, but I may have a problem parting with things that no longer bring me joy or have any value at all. A few years ago, I went to my parents’ house and my dad handed me a dusty cardboard box overflowing with stuff. “We cleaned out all the drawers from the chest in your old room and this has been in the garage forever.”
I had officially reached the age when my parents no longer wanted to keep any of my belongings in their house. Of course, I had to rummage through all the photos, cards, and random books I kept and share the nostalgia of my younger days with my husband.
We stumbled upon some things from our wedding, like my notebook where I wrote down all the plans, colors, and venues for our big day. “Aren’t you glad I don’t throw stuff away? This is so fun!” I kept telling my husband who shook his head and laughed at the pile of useless things that took up space in my parents’ garage all these years. Then I pulled out an envelope that was placed in a notebook. I opened it up and what was inside made my jaw drop! I was speechless.
My husband noticed how my face had changed from joy to shock. He grabbed the envelope from my hands, reached in, and took out check after check after check, all addressed to us and worth hundreds of dollars. They were all dated 05-29-2010, the date of our wedding. We were both angry and frustrated, trying to figure out how we misplaced these gifted checks. They were wasted and worthless now. Generous gifts from close friends and family to bless us and bring us joy had been set aside, forgotten, and now served as a reminder that we were foolish.
Did you know that as children of God, you and I have been given spiritual gifts? In 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, we see lists of the different gifts that we have access to in order to grow in our love for God and edify others. However, I don’t think The Church, which is the collective of believers, is living and operating in our giftings. I think many are distracted by the world, some feel unworthy to be used, or others just don’t care about it. There is also the overemphasis on certain visible gifts over others within churches, which can make many feel discouraged.
The underlying reason we don’t seek out and tap into our gift is that we don’t understand the value of it.
If I had known the amount of money that was in that envelope, I would have cashed those checks immediately. But I didn’t know, so they were like any other sheets of paper in that notebook. The only way for me to grasp the value of the spiritual gift I have been given is by studying the Bible to understand its purpose.
In 1 Corinthians, after Paul lists the gifts, he gives us the analogy that we are one body, and these gifts are meant to build up the body. God has blessed me with a gift to bless you so that the body can be blessed. So essentially, we need the gifts because our gifts connect us to each other and to God. In His love, God blesses us with gifts, and in His love, we bless others with these gifts. When I squander or forget to use the gift that I have generously been given, the body suffers. So, Paul encourages The Church to, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…” (1 Corinthians 14:1).
My salvation story wasn’t a result of someone operating in the gift of teaching or prophesying, but the gift of serving through hospitality. Someone invited me into their home for a small group meeting where I felt the presence of God for the first time and my life was changed. The person that invited me didn’t know how my eternity would be impacted, but she recognized the gift she had been given and used it for the glory of God.
So often I think about the day I will stand before God and I want to hear those beautiful words “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). I refuse to hoard or hide or waste my gifts. No, I want to squeeze out every last bit of the gifts that I have been given here on earth to bring God glory. To live any other way would be foolish.