In the last blog post (see “Gifts from God”), we discussed the gifts that God has given to each one of us. A reader asked why I thought people did not use the gifts they have been given, and I felt this was worthy of a follow up post. I’d be very interested to hear some of your thoughts as well, so please leave a comment with some of the reasons you believe people do not use their gifts, or perhaps even reasons you have refrained from using your own gifts. I’m certain your comments will be useful, inspiring and thought provoking to the rest of the audience.
So what are some of the reasons people do not exercise the gifts God has given them? If we take a step back and analyze the question, it is somewhat unbelievable to conceive of the premise; we have been given gifts, talents, and abilities from the Creator of the Universe and the only thing we see fit to do with them is hide them away so no one knows! This surely is not our finest moment. When I was growing up, I remember people (mostly women) who would get a towel from Elvis Presley at his concert; they showed everyone their gift (if a sweat covered rag indeed qualifies as a gift)! They couldn’t wait to tell everyone they’d meet about this amazing item. It was displayed with honor in their homes, there for all to see. My example is somewhat frivolous I realize, but the truth remains. When someone we admire gives us a gift, we can’t shut up about it. We are compelled to use it and tell the story behind it to everyone we encounter. Yet when the King of the Universe, the one we proclaim is our Lord, gives us a gift, we hide it away to make certain no one knows about it. Why?
Fear – We are afraid people will make fun of us; we’re afraid to be labeled a Jesus freak or a fanatic. We’re afraid we’ll be cast out of our circle of friends. We’re afraid people will look down on us. There is no fear in love and God is, above all else, love. If we are fearful then we are not trusting in Him. Would you follow someone you don’t trust? Of course you wouldn’t. If you are fearful, then you are not trusting God, and so it would seem logical to conclude you are not following Him. We follow those we trust. If you would be a true follower of Christ, there can be no fear in doing so.
Time – We claim we don’t have time to use our gifts. Our society and lives have become so busy that there simply isn’t space in our life to make use of what God entrusted to us. If this is you, may I humbly suggest that your priorities are not in order? If you have time for other things, but not for God and the works He gave you to accomplish, then He is not Lord of your life. Stop kidding yourself; you are not following Jesus if you are too busy following other pursuits in life. This is dangerous and you need to surrender yourself to Him anew.
Money – Our gifts require us to spend some money, and we simply don’t have it. God equips you to do the works He designed for you. If He calls you to feed the hungry and you can barely afford food for your own family, you need to simply trust Him to provide. Use whatever you have to do what He created you to do. He’ll take care of the rest. Following Jesus means walking a path that won’t always make sense to us. We aren’t called to understand everything He commands us to do; we are called to simply do. If He is truly your Lord, you will trust Him. If you do not have the faith in Jesus to provide for your needs, then you are not truly following Christ; you are merely a spectator in the crowd.
Laziness – Following Jesus is a hard road; it requires hard work. Many times we simply don’t feel like putting forth the effort. We’d rather catch an extra hour of sleep or watch something on television. In the Western culture, it is easy to forget that there is a spiritual war being waged all around us. If you believe in Christ and in His word, you know this to be true. If we are lazy in war, we will be defeated. If we are defeated, we cannot be following Christ, because Christ is never defeated. We can get knocked down, but as long as we are following Christ, we can never be beaten. There are no timeouts in war. There is no possible way to follow Jesus in a lackadaisical manner.
Selfishness – If we were to use our gifts, we would never have time to do the things we want to do. If this is where you find yourself, you need to take a hard look at what you want to do with the life God has given you. Either Jesus is the Lord of your life or you are. Whom will you choose? Following Jesus is an all or nothing proposition; you can’t serve two masters. If you are to be a true follower of Jesus, you must give up your life as you know it. Jesus died for you; we must do the same for Him. If you would proclaim Jesus as Lord, your every aim and desire must be to do the works He created you to do.
Are you utilizing the gifts God has given to you? If not, did you find yourself in any of the excuses above? If you haven’t been using what God has entrusted to you, it’s not too late. As long as you have breath you can begin to use what God has given you to accomplish the tasks He created you to do. Not sure where to start? Drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org); I’ll help you figure it out. Not sure what to do? Start with the basics: feed the hungry; shelter the homeless; take care of the sick, the orphans, the widows and those in poverty. Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Do the work He created you to do. Utilize the gifts God has given you.