We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans, 12:6-8, NIV)
This is the season of giving. We’re used to it. We shop. We wrap. We send. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed. Sometimes we feel the pinch in our budgets. But we’re used to it. It’s the holidays.
The scripture above is a reminder that the most important gifts we can offer others can’t be found at the mall or online.
Words of encouragement. Time spent teaching. Serving. Giving. Leading. Prophesying.
We can do all these things without expenditure of money, though money is often part of the effort. We like to honor the gifts given to us according to our particular grace, but in our materialistic society, this honor tends to be lip service, a cliché. Our hearts aren’t in the honoring, yet when we consider the value of our gifts, these treasures of grace, we can see the love bound up in them.
In looking back over years of Christmases, I find I recall only a few gifts, yet words of encouragement spoken to me long ago, sometimes by a loved one, sometimes by a friend, come easily to mind.
How many people cite the influence of a teacher on their future career? How many people are grateful for the friends, coworkers, and family members who supported their dreams?
Your time is a gift that will never be exchanged at the store. Recall when you listened to a friend who called you with a heartache or a triumph. Recall listening to a child explain a favorite movie. Recall watching a loved one perform in a musical or sports event. Recall driving a child to summer camp.
The point isn’t to pat yourself on the back for doing these things. It’s to remember how important they are, and how much it mattered to the other person to have your time and attention.
Few of have the gift of prophecy, but if we’ve ever experienced the sharing of prophetic insight, it stays with us. Our hearts burn within us, and we feel like the apostles who accompanied Jesus to Emmaus.
Last time you were on the road, did you let another driver merge into traffic ahead of you? On your most recent visit to a store, did you have a friendly word for another shopper or store employee? Did you rake up your front lawn an extra time without complaining to your neighbors about the leaves from their trees blowing into your space? Added all together, these small acts of generosity build the kingdom of heaven.
It’s fine if you find it easy to offer your gifts to others. I think grace should make it come naturally to offer your particular gifts to others. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)
Let us pray...
God of good gifts, open our eyes to the treasures we have been given. Let us see the pearl of great price that we are free to bestow upon others. Let us marvel at the honor we have received, we who are sharing our treasures of grace, using them to build the Kingdom of God in love.