Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Good Gifts and A New Year's Quiz

When I was a kid, I loved to take quizzes in magazines. There were many silly ones I took like "Find out if you are a neat person or a messy person" or "What is your perfume personality." I still like taking quizzes so when my sister told me about an online spiritual gifts test from her church, I was excited to see what it would say. If you would like to take the quiz, click on My Spiritual Gifts Assessment.

I found the results of the test as both humbling and eye opening at the same time. Just as the "perfume personality" test is not a comprehensive measure of personality, it is important to read your scores on the spiritual gifts assessment as a guide and a way of understanding that God has given each of us unique gifts, talents and life experiences to carry out his Mission to go unto all the world teaching and preaching the good news of Jesus Christ rather than a judge of how spiritual we are.

If there are spiritual gifts that you desire, ask God for them. God wants to shower his love on us, to bless us and to give us good gifts just as a parent desires to bless their child with good gifts. Matthew 7:11 says "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Though God does not give the gifts equally, as illustrated in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-28) He is abundantly generous (beyond what we could even ask or imagine) and will give us the gifts if we ask for them. As James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” I don’t naturally have discerning spirit and as a result I am rather oblivious to much around me. After I read this scripture, I realized that I could ask God for discernment just as Solomon asked God for wisdom. In the years since I asked God for discernment, God has heightened my sense of discernment into a tool that can be used for His Glory.

God gives good gifts to His children. However, sometimes we resist the gifts He wants to give us and don’t use the gifts He has given us. One of my family Christmas traditions is to put socks in the stockings. I love the irony of it and inevitably my kids need new socks. However, my kids don’t really love the socks. As the open their stockings on Christmas morning the socks get thrown in the “gifts I don’t want” pile. In the same way, there are spiritual gifts that we “throw away.” These are gifts that we are uncomfortable with or that we just don’t understand.

As I took the spiritual gifts assessment, I was convicted that the reason I had such low scores in some areas was not that the Holy Spirit hadn’t tried to give me the gift but instead that I had resisted receiving the gift. Get this point- God gives different amounts of the gifts just as in the Parable of the Talents; when one servant was given five talents, one given three talents and one was only given one- but all three servants were given something. Sometimes God has already given us a gift whether it is prophecy, speaking in tongues or healing and we have resisted receiving the gift.

One of my lowest scores was in Mercy. As I was sharing this with my friend Corinne, she said, “You weren’t surprised were you?” I guess I don’t come across as a very merciful person. She shared with me that people with the Mercy gift let their heart be broken by other peoples’ miserable situations. After talking with her, I realized that when I was exposed to such sad situations I would separate my self from the situation, I would turn off the TV, find something else to focus on or assume it wasn’t that bad. I would limit my exposure to things that would ever need Mercy. I was not comfortable with such misery and such sad situations, so I avoided God’s mercy in those situations as well. By doing this, I was also limiting the gift of mercy in my life.

Our resistance to His gifts could be out of fear of the unknown, other people’s opinions or our need for control. If we do not use the gifts that God has given us we run the risk of the gift being taken away, just as the one who had only one talent lost even what little he had.

Take a minute to look at your spiritual gifts test and focus on your lowest scores. As God to reveal to you the areas where you need to ask for more of the gift in your life and areas where you need to repent of fear and ungratefulness for resisting the good gifts God has for you.

"This passage was excerpted from my new Bible Study, Trusting God, Learning to Embrace Change-A study of the Old Women of the Bible"."

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