Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Gift From God. . . Really?

If I have a gift for writing (big IF), I'm not sure I can claim it's a gift from God. Let me explain:

I once had an "acquaintance" who was an okay singer. She wasn't great, but good. She once told me (after singing in church and getting the usual pats on the back ) that her singing was a gift from God.

I thought about that statement and responded differently than most people do. (not to her personally) My first reaction was Why? Why would God do that? It didn't make sense to me. If it were a gift from God, why wouldn't He have made her better? And this path of thinking usually goes on to say that God grants us all gifts. Like pastors who try to pass off cleaning the church as a gift. That's not a gift, that's a wonderful person who has a spirit of servanthood toward his/her God.

One thing many don't seem to realize is that every time you say something, you're also saying the opposite or the reverse inference. For instance, when Mrs. Okay Singer tells someone that her voice is a gift from God, she is also saying "God chose me over you. That's right, He chose to give me a gift that brings me personal glory and adulation and you the gift of cleaning my toilet." Furthermore, since she was also beautiful, she was also saying that God made me beautiful and talented and he chose not to do that for you.

Another problem with this thinking for me is that the secular world is full of talented people. Did Satan give them those gifts? If God is giving gifts in fields such as music, writing, art, etc, for the purpose of winning the lost, wouldn't Christians be leading all music sales and book sales and movie sales. Doesn't happen except for the occasional exception.

Here's what I think. Most of our so-called gifts -- we're born with. God is looking for a willing heart. If you're willing, no matter your level of talent or skills, He can use you and your abilities to move mountains or affect one life. Which is the same as moving a mountain.

One thing to remember is that we're not destined to win the world for Jesus. The Bible says that only a minority will choose to accept Christ.

Disclaimer: The girl in question cannot possibly be identified. I didn't give enough info. And, it might not be a girl.

Disclaimer 2: This is one of those things I don't have completely figured out. My thoughts on this are subject to change or amendment. If you think I'm wrong, please comment. I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.


Glynn said...

I think you're right. We confuse talents with gifts from God. Singing and writing are talents, not gifts. The gifts involved in those talents might be encouragement or teaching -- but the singing and writing themselves are talents.

My singing voice is best heard in a large church, where it can be drowned out by many other voices. I don't have singing talent, and I don't consider that an "un-gift" from God. Some of us a singing talent, and some of us don't. I don't.

Thanks for the post. It's a good one.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Well put, Glynn. Thanks.

Nicole said...

You're interpreting "gift" as the world does. A gift from God is something he endows to an individual to use for His glory. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father . . . (James 1:17). Gifts come in all shapes and sizes and can be used in many ways, but the purpose of the gift of writing, art, singing, hospitality, prophecy, etc., is to express and declare God's grace, anointing, and to be in obedience to His desires. If we perceive His pleasure as requiring the perfect notes, the perfect words, the perfect appearance, we miss the whole purpose of bestowing the gifts on imperfect humans to be used however He requires. Does it lead to fame and fortune? Sometimes, but that doesn't make the given gift any more valuable to the Lord. It's the obedience that counts, the desire to use whatever He's given to us for Him.

If we judge the "gift", we're missing the whole picture. I understand that a person can be deceived about their talents or gifts and insist an area of expertise is from God when they clearly have no expertise in the area.

Every human being is given something from God to use. Those who don't know Him proclaim their hard work and success is completely their own doing, but God has created them with their abilities.

Others ignore their gifts, refuse to use them because they insist on doing something they want to do more than that for which they have talent.

Long-winded but JMO.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Thanks, Nicole. I appreciate your thoughts.

Wouldn't it be incumbent upon us to make sure we're not mis-interpreted. And, by us, I mean Christianity as a whole.

What I'm afraid of is that most Christians are interpreting it the way you suggest. Modern Christianity has become a "it's all about me" situation.

I do disagree with your statement: a gift from God is something he endows to an individual to use for His glory. It still comes down to giving whatever you have, not a specific thing He chose to give you.

I interpet "Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father" as God's way of trying to point us to what's really important. In other words: forget other gifts, Grace, Mercy, Love, and eternal Life with god are the only good and perfect gifts.

thanks again.

Nicole said...

Excellent points, Dayle. I would say, though, that the very important gifts you listed in Grace, Mercy, and Love are also mismanaged by many of us and not used in the ways to best give glory to God, often ignored in our demeanors and actions, and ill-maintained just as the physical gifts or talents are with the focus of their demonstrations still pointing to ourselves in many cases.

Kat Heckenbach said...

I agree that there is a difference between a gift and a talent. Hm, if my book ever gets published (make that "when"), the world will know my opinion on this--it's a major theme! Anyway, God makes us, of course, and gives us each unique abilities--that we can either use for His glory or not.

Talent comes with responsibility. God gave me the ability to write, draw, teach. I can use those talents for His glory, or use them selfishly--my choice.

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

It's a deal, Kat. After I read your book we'll discuss it further.

Todd said...

Good point Glynn regarding gifts and talents.

The thing that struck me about your post Dale, was the line saying "God chose me over you".

God did choose David, not his brothers. God chose Mary, not some other woman. Jesus took Peter, Jame sand John up on the mountain, and not the other disciples.

God did not create every one with the same level of talent or beauty. You, for instance, will never be as pretty as I am or sing or play as well as I do. You need to just get over this!

But, seriously folks. I think that sometimes we buy into the whole warped concept the world has of "fairness". The Bible describes God as just, but I don't think that is the same as what some call fairness. He did, in the parable of the talents give 10 to one, 5 to one, and only one to the last.

Is that fair?

Does our opinion about what is fair, based on our limited field of view, matter to God, who sees the whole picture?

Look around you. Obviously some are given more or better gifts or talents than others. And any way, who are we to judge which gifts or talents are the best to have. We have all also been "given" our own set of weaknesses and our own "thorn in the flesh" or "cross to bear" or whatever you want to call them.

And, as for that wonderful saint who cleans the church, or teaches little children, or performs whatever some would call the more menial jobs, their "spirit of servanthood" IS a gift from God and every bit as important to the kingdom as the gifts or talents given to those of us who get to bask in the stage lights.

In God's eyes being "beautiful and talented" may not be the best gifts. If we could see through His eyes, maybe we would genuinely revere the faithful, behind the scenes, less talented, less gifted, less beautiful ones as He does.

Sorry this got so long. I guess I haven't blogged in a while and needed an outlet ...

Dayle James Arceneaux said...

Todd, that was a lucid, intelligent, well-thought out argument---overruled.

Let me type slowly so you can understand. Actually, I agree with most of what you said.

Btw, I needed the laugh. whew! I'll conced you play guitar better than I do, but prettier than me. HAHAHAHA...deep breath, nose gurgle...hahahaha.

The "chose over you" is the way I think this comes across to the uninitiated. Which is not good for our side.

Most of the people God chose had to sacrifice something. Which is exactly my point. If Christianese blurs this fact, we're creating an unnecessary problem.

Now go read my story and tell me what you think.