Gift Giving (And Receiving)

The Holy Spirit is very personal. And He gives you very personal spiritual gifts. And then He motivates you in the right direction to help you discover both what He has given you and how you can learn to use what He has given you. When you are open to God, the Holy Spirit is an unexplainable force that drives you to do something.

That something continues to become more important to you until it takes over your priorities. You want to do it first, not only because you want to make sure it gets done, but also because you enjoy doing it. And you are even willing to make sacrifices to get the job done. You receive a sense of satisfaction that you cannot receive any other way. You experience a feeling of completeness and wholeness that nothing else you do can provide.

Even when you are exhausted, you still find the energy to use your spiritual gift. Using your gift opens new avenues to God, allowing the Holy Spirit to revitalize and refresh you. When you let your gift atrophy, your personality becomes dormant and lifeless. But when you use the Bible and prayer to feed your gift, you come alive with vim and vigor.

Frankly, when I look at our congregation as a whole, I do not see that much enthusiasm or excitement over using our gifts to serve our Lord. Yet, when I look at people individually, I sense a great longing to get involved.

I feel that more people than will admit it have a pretty good idea of where the Lord is leading them. Although the fear of failure is holding some people back, I sense an even greater fear than that. Many people feel they could "get in touch" with their spiritual gifts rather easily, if they were just given half a chance. But even when they use their spiritual gifts "properly and successfully" to the Lord's satisfaction, they fear the congregation is not spiritually open or aware enough to recognize their contributions.

I am not saying people do not contribute because they do not receive enough praise for their impersonal contributions. Rather, they think the church will not accept their very personal contributions.

When you use a gift, you must give something to someone else. And someone else must take what your gift has to offer. Being a Christian requires us to have a very personal relationship with Christ, as well as with other Christians, if we hope to build up the body of Christ.

How can we build up the body of Christ? Can you give by teaching, helping others, giving money, or by giving time to administer or carry out certain tasks? Can you share your gift of faith, wisdom, or knowledge with others to build up the body of Christ? Here are some approaches for discovering your spiritual gifts while you are learning how to give.

ONE APPROACH Start with yourself and work your way to another person. Identify your talents and abilities by examining your occupation and your hobbies. Then familiarize yourself with some of the spiritual gifts found in the Bible. (1 Cor 12) Then identify a need in someone else's life, and try to use your talents and gifts that you just identified to respond to that person's need.

ANOTHER APPROACH Start with another person and work your way back to yourself. Talk to God and ask for His guidance. Let the Holy Spirit make you more sensitive to the needs of those around you. (What do they need to receive?) And then let the Holy Spirit reveal to you what you have to offer them. (What could you give?) And then let the Holy Spirit help you discover what your spiritual gift is, and let Him teach you how to use it to meet the needs of others.

YET ANOTHER APPROACH Try not to be so selective in your giving, always waiting for just the right opportunity with all the right signs. Instead, give whenever you see an opportunity. When the Holy Spirit confirms certain ways you have given, you can then concentrate more on those areas.

AN EXAMPLE My buddy complimented me on my jacket and said that he needed a jacket. I knew the jacket I was wearing would be too small for him, so I went home and returned with a bigger jacket (a very nice leather jacket). Then I told him to try on the leather jacket. It fit, so I told him it was his. But I remembered how some people feel uncomfortable receiving presents, like they might owe the giver something in return. So I minimized the value of the jacket. I told him I had no use for the jacket because I had lost weight and could never wear it, I said the jacket needed cleaned up, and I even told him I bought the jacket at a used clothing store!

When I gave my buddy the jacket, I gave him something and he accepted it. He did something right by sharing his need or desire with me, and I did something right by responding to his need or desire. But I also did something wrong when I tried to minimize the value of the gift. We make similar mistakes with our spiritual gift giving. We sometimes do not give of ourselves because we think our gifts are of little or no value. And we sometimes do not accept gifts from others because we think we are not worthy of their gifts.

Do not rationalize that you cannot use your spiritual gifts because you or your gifts are inadequate. You do not have to rely on your own abilities to prove the value of your gift. Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. For it is the Holy Spirit that gave you your spiritual gift in the first place.

You are not offering some shabby leather jacket that was already used and was mass produced by the thousands. You are offering a gift of the Spirit of God. Something that is priceless. And something that is new and unique to each giver and to each receiver each time that it is presented.

And do not refuse the gifts of others because you think you are not worthy of their gifts. Christ allowed His blood to be shed for you at Calvary to take away your sins. Jesus' death and resurrection make it possible for you to have a new life here on earth, and an eternal life someday in Heaven. So when you think you are not worthy of someone's gift, just remember that Jesus has already paid the price for every gift. And it was a very dear price at that.

Do not feel uncomfortable about receiving presents, like you might owe the giver something in return. We cannot keep score, like an accountant records assets and liabilities. Leave it to God to balance the books. Sometimes we give. Sometimes we receive. But, always, we are to respond to God's Spirit when He leads us and act accordingly.

My earnest prayer is that God will give you the wisdom to know how you can help others (and how others can help you). And that God will give you the courage to reach out to others (and let others reach in to you). And finally, I pray that you will have the faith to believe that God has already heard and answered your prayers. There are many people ready to give and many people ready to receive. So, ask, believe, and be patient while God brings us all together.

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