Our gifts and talents should also be turned over to Him. They should be recognized for what they are, God’s loan to us, and should never be considered in any sense our own. We have no more right to claim credit for special abilities than for blue eyes or strong muscles. ‘For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?’ (A. W. Tozer)
God is the giver of all talents and abilities under the sky. 1 Peter 4:10 reminds us not only that we each have gifts to use, but that they are God’s grace unto us. Peter defines human abilities as “various forms” of “God’s grace”, entrusted to every Christian for faithful stewardship. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” In God’s grace, we each have various forms of abilities and giftings. Not one has been overlooked by this abundance of God’s grace. And all such abilities and gifts are “on loan to us,” as Tozer puts it, purposed to serve others.
In the parable of the talents, the master distributes money to each of his servants. The master did not overwhelm nor did he exclude any of his servants: he gave them each according to their abilities, the text says. While the master went away, the servants were left with the gifted property and their own abilities. They had to get creative in their own ways to care for and invest the talents in their possession. The ones who were faithful found creative ways to invest and grow their talents. However, the one who was overwhelmed by fear and a misguided view of God, did nothing but sit and wait for the time to pass.
Creativity within our means and through the God given talents we possess is a means for the gospel, not the end. Just like the good and faithful servants in the story, we don’t use our gifts to prove ourselves some creatively-extraordinaire, Pinterest-perfect women. There is no angel at the heaven’s door awarding us “medals of superiority in creativity” on earth, during this pandemic. Instead, we are creative in order to sow gospel seeds through such God given gifts and abilities. The end result, with every creative act of serving, is the gospel planted in soils all over homes, starting with our own backyard. Our creativity counts only as much as it provides a channeling for the sharing of the gospel around us.
Trials fortify our faith, but they also provide the arena for our giftings and abilities to be developed and matured. A wise servant doesn’t stop finding ways to live out the gospel and serve others just because the circumstances are harder. Since the gospel cannot be quarantined, neither should be our creativity for the gospel’s sake. From the beginning of our social distancing, I have witnessed the gospel brought near to human souls in the most creative and wise acts of service. Christian men and women continue to use their giftings, adapting them to the times, not waiting for the trials to be over. They found new ways to develop their abilities because the gospel is too relevant and powerful to not be presented in such times as the ones we live in today. Donna’s love for sewing continues through her making masks for the hospital doctors and staff. Darcy’s flower business (on halt for now) continues to bless homes through bouquets dropped off at the doors. Our pastor’s children write cards and encouraging notes to the church members. Women drop off gifts on each other’s porches. One Bible Fellowship Group put together nearly 50 care baskets for the international community in Lexington. Summer uses her gift of connections to order over 2,000 high grade masks for use in Lexington. The pastors continue preaching and ministering to their congregations via on-line options. “Porch” baby showers are organized remotely by dropping off presents on the porch, one at a time. Jenille and Nate drive by people’s homes to let them know from the car how loved and missed they are. Caretakers receive prayer calls and gifts of encouragement. Clara and Eli write chalk messages with encouraging Bible Verses. Emily blesses women with her beautiful calligraphy. Tina counsels women still over the phone. Maranda teaches on-line fitness classes for seniors (since her work studio shut down). Stephanie, Ioana, Shane, Karen, Carol and so many others continue to care for patients in our local hospitals. Mothers take on homeschool daily, fathers find new ways to provide, and the church continues to thrive.
There is no higher worship than to live the life God has given us each. There is no higher calling than to be grateful to be who God called us to be, gifted with the abilities He has given us each, in the season God is passing us through, with the people God has surrounded us with. Paul admonishes us to “only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. (1 Corinthians 7:17). In other words, Paul is saying, “Live the life God has given you.” And though “some are given more and some are given less”, we should remember in the end that “all are given much” anyway (Jon Bloom). From the richness of God’s grace, we partake with every talents and gift we have received.
In Ecclesiastes 11:4, the Preacher warns wise farmers to not get distracted by the wind and clouds and so miss the sowing and harvesting. In trials, such as our pandemic today, it is imperative that we continue to faithfully sow and plant gospel truths through our God given gifts and abilities, even as hard winds blow and dark clouds gather above our heads. To use our gifts as if they are all about us is to usurp God’s grace. But to not use our gifts at all during this pandemic is to ultimately reject God’s grace from our lives and from those whom we are called to love well. As the body of Christ, we should long to serve others so they too can know the love of Jesus. We should find creative ways to bring the gospel closest to each soul even as social norms keep us quarantined. But we should do it in such a way that the One we serve always overshadows every aspect of how we serve.