Friday, March 30, 2012

Spiritual Gifts and Conviction

God has blessed each one of us with at least one spiritual gift.  I have taken many spiritual gift inventories over the years.  And, God has given me different gifts during different seasons of my life.  For example, when I was younger, I definitely had the gift of leadership.  As I've grown older, God has shifted that gift from leading to supporting.  I've become a supporting-role person instead of a leader, because God has taken away one gift and made it into another...He knows what He is doing.  In this part of my life, I am working on a Master's Degree, planning and teaching for homeschool, and trying to actively serve in our church.  With all of these time-consuming things on my plate, God has changed my gift to be supportive rather than a leader I believe, to keep me from burning out or becoming overwhelmed.
Another gift I have is the gift of hospitality.  He has allowed Mark and me to both have this gift.  Wherever we have lived, our home has always been open to anyone and everyone.  We strive to make the place we live comfortable for every person who walks through the door.  Being hospitable has given us both the opportunity to share God's love, enjoy Christian fellowship, and to provide a safe place for people who are hurting.  Through our marriage, we have had different people live with us for a variety of reasons and for various lengths of time.  Because God granted Mark and me the gift of hospitality, we have been blessed beyond measure to have developed relationships with so many wonderful people!

The gift that I have been aware of the longest is the gift of grace.  When I was a junior in high school, I went on a retreat to Garden City, SC with the youth group of Macedonia Baptist Church.  During one of our quiet times, our devotion was to reflect on the name that God would give each of us...immediately, the name "Grace" came to my heart and mind.  The gift of grace is a tough one.  It is a gift that requires a forgiving heart, a positive attitude, and an ongoing call to "take the high road" or "be the bigger person".  Acting on grace is means being able to forgive people who have wronged or hurt you, but staying strong to not be a doormat to others.  Grace is not a sign of weakness, nor is it an invitation for people to continue to abuse.  In the past I have confused grace with letting people take advantage of me.  Thankfully, as I have studied the Word and sought Godly counsel, I know that grace is giving forgiveness but not enabling a continuous pattern of hurtful behavior.  
I have learned that having these gifts makes me accountable to USE these gifts, and not just when it is convenient.  Since God has blessed me with these specific treasures, He expects me to use the ALL OF THE TIME.  Recently, I was in a situation where I wanted to support someone I dearly love.  However, I was going to have to come face-to-face with a person who had caused several complications in other relationships, who had hurt people I care about, and who had hurt me.  My instant human preparation was to simply freeze this person out...ignore them, look like a snob, but just stay away.  I was almost instantly convicted.  God has blessed me with gifts to allows me to handle situations such as these in a positive way.  Instead of giving in to my human instincts, I prayed and God showed me what to do.  I walked in the door of the event and almost ran headlong into the person I was dreading to see.  I was armed with the gifts of support, hospitality, and grace.  I was there to support someone I love, and I was not going to be deterred from that.  I had a gift in hand to give this person, using my gift of hospitality, and through God's grace, I was able to extend grace and even have a positive dialogue with this person. 
God did not give me my gifts lightly.  He has intentionally designed me, and He knows the path I'm on.  He has blessed me with my specific gifts to do His specific work in this world.  Each one of us are blessed with specific gifts.  Look into your heart, search His Word, spend time in prayer, maybe even take a spiritual gifts inventory to better understand what gifts God has given you.  Then, USE them!  I promise you, the blessings you will receive from honoring His gifts to you will take you by surprise.  Get involved in a church where your gifts can be put to use to further His Kingdom!  Use your gifts in the ups and downs of life.  He promises to honor those who honor Him!  He's given you the gift, and you are the perfect wrapping paper for it!

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