To have a pile of gifts is a treat. A birthday, wedding, graduation, or any other special occasion, most, if not all, of us enjoy receiving gifts.
Our favorite gifts, says one researcher, are the ones we want but would not have bought ourselves. Our least favorite gifts are ones that have little to do with what we want.
Most gifts, the researcher continued, are actually a compromise between what we would like and what the giver would like us to have.
God is generous with his gift-giving to us, too. The gifts we receive from God, though, are not like physical gifts from family members or friends. They are special in other ways.
Alongside the gift of his grace, which brings us forgiveness and a new and never-ending life, the Bible says we receive spiritual gifts from God. Although we can sometimes hone in on a few, there are a variety of gifts.
What’s special is that these gifts from God are to be used for the benefit of other people.
Gifts are God’s goodness given to us for the good of other people.
The Message puts it like this:
Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything.1 Peter 4:10-11
Taking the analogy from A Prayer to Make Lives Brighter, these gifts are God’s grace spilling out of us, like the restaurants spilling onto the streets in NYC, serving diners and making NYC a better place.
Our God-given gifts are to make the world a better and brighter place for other people.
Perhaps you are thinking “I don’t know what my gifts are.” Or maybe “I don’t have any gifts.”
We are all gifted in more ways than one. Here’s the Message again:
Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.1 Corinthians 12:11
In the list of gifts in the Bible, here are a few I want us to think about and ask God for.
Wisdom and understanding are gifts.
Is there someone in your life who needs wise advice? Does he or she, or someone else, need clarity and understanding?
Ask God for his wisdom so you can pass it on.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.James 1:5 NIV
Faith is a gift.
Do you know someone who needs the gift of faith in his or her life—to make the decision to follow Jesus? Is there someone who is struggling in their faith?
The apostles said to Jesus, “Increase our faith!”
Ask God to expand your faith so you can help grow the faith of others.
Helping others—in so many different ways—is a gift you can share with your family, friends, and neighbors.
So often we cry out to God for help, and he responds.
Ask God to show you how you can help someone in need today.
Thank you for your generosity,
And lavishing me with gifts.
If I, imperfect as I am,
Know how to give good gifts,
Help me realize how much more
You, who are perfect,
Have given gifts to me that are perfect
For me and for sharing with others.
When I don’t know what my gifts are,
When I don’t realize you have gifted me,
Prompt me and remind me of each one.
I ask you for the gifts of
And the ability to
Just as you help me.
Help me to overflow
With all you have given me
So I can make the world
A better and brighter place
For those around me.
In Jesus name,