Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Gifts! Gifts for Everyone!!

All right, so I clearly failed my vision of a post a day. But there's a very good reason! Which is that I received a last-second invitation to go on a 1200 mile road trip with a couple of friends. See? It's a good reason. Aside from that, I believe if you're going to fail, fail big. Well, not really, but for this post-a-day nonsense I do. More realistically, I think I'll be able to manage a post once a week.

So, what's the topic of this post going to be? I got into some friendly banter with a sibling, which was started by my asking, "What's the point of Easter, why do we celebrate it?" The response was "why don't you tell us?" Naturally, my response was, "It's a celebration of Christ's resurrection, of his power over death, and through him, our ability to be resurrected." It makes me giggle, but the conversation took a negative turn: "What's the definition of ignorance?", I was asked. Well, that's easy: "Lacking knowledge or training, being unaware or uninformed." And I posed a question to them, which was "What's the definition of undiscerning?" This ties into the topic of this post because the gift of discernment is, to me, a highly treasured gift. It gives one the ability to know right from wrong. There are degrees of all gifts, of course, but according to the scripture I've hyperlinked, we have all received the gift of discernment.

I like the idea of gifts from God. How amazing is the fact that God has given us all gifts? Some modern-day scripture tells us the following about gifts:

8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.
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17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.
18 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ.
19 And I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men.
• • •
24 And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief.
25 And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.
• • •
30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

So, in short: All gifts are from God, although we may receive them in different ways. We have these gifts to "profit" us, although we can lose them through unbelief. Lastly, to truly embrace our gifts, those that we have and those which God is wanting to give to us, we need to turn to Christ.

Simple enough, right? All right, so now that we've got that out there, let's get deeper into it.

There are a vast number of gifts out there! Although as humans we tend to like to classify things, this isn't something I like to do that with. But I'll try, anyway. I think it would work best to do this by the outward manifestations of our gifts. The above scripture tells us that "there are different ways that these gifts are administered." This can apply in two different ways. The first is that God gives us these gifts in different ways ("to give," or "to mete out"), and the second is that we can use them in different ways ("to use"). My focus is on the first.

So the greatest of all the spiritual gifts we can receive (I dare you to dispute) is the gift of learning. If you're reading my words right now, you've received that gift - amazing! There are some people out there who are just really good at something, "naturally." These are the gifts that are given to us right off the bat. For example, when I was 9 I realized I had a knack for drawing (my focus was on Angora rabbits back then), but after awhile I noticed I could really only draw the things in front of me - if I can see it, I can draw it, and usually exceptionally well. This isn't meant to be a pat on the back, I'm just using myself to illustrate the point. Naturally, I was good at drawing. 11 years later, I don't think as highly of my drawings. This is because I haven't kept up with it as much as I should have. As such, I've begun drawing portraits whenever I have the opportunity. This is the second way in which we receive gifts - through learning.

If I want to learn a language, I can't just pray and hope I know it when the day is out. I actually have to go out, take classes, learn the basics of the language and if I can, go where it is they speak the language I'm learning. And if I've learned a language I need to keep using it or else I'll lose it.

As for classifying gifts into categories of their types, we can sort of do it: two categories being the temporal and the spiritual. Both of these types interact with each other, as well as a third type: intellectual. I think what I'm getting at is classification by the type of manifestation shown by each type of gift. For example, a close friend of mine is amazing with his guitar; this is an extrinsic manifestation, although of course it can interact with the spiritual (if he were to pray for increased talent) and the intellectual (learning theory, notes, chords,etc.). It isn't hard to think of extrinsic, or temporal gifts, although it may be more difficult to recognize spiritual gifts.

Some spiritual examples are listed in the scriptures: (these are found here) great faith, healing, being healed, performing miracles, prophesying, and seeing (either with their physical eyes or spiritually being able to "feel" their presence) angels and other spirits.

Now, if you actually clicked on that hyperlink up there and read the scriptures I sent you to, you'll notice I only used certain of the gifts it lists. This is because although all gifts can fall into all three categories (spiritual, physical, and intellectual), some do so more than others. In my opinion, speaking in tongues (or other languages; something I'll post on soon), being able to understand languages, being ridiculously intelligent, those things tend to more intellectual (understanding the complexities of a language, conjugation, word placement) and physical (taking classes, listening to CDs).

Through this reasoning then, when I say I'm the only thing standing in the way of me being as good a guitarist as my friend, I'm right. If I put in the hours, I can be as good as those people that I admire, and if I embrace Christ and accept the help from him and God, then my previous statement is even more true. To sum it up with a quote by Eleanor Powell, "What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God."

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