I had the glorious opportunity this summer to speak one Sunday morning at camp church. It was a crazy, last minute thing and God definitely laid this message on my heart within a matter of hours. And for some reason I have been thinking about it a lot lately and thought I might share a little. Hope you enjoy and hopefully it is what someone needs to hear today.
Matthew 21:18-19 tells a story of Jesus and the disciples walking down a road, hungry and tired. They see a fig tree in the distance; a huge, leafy, beautiful fig tree. Obviously, they assume that the fig tree is going to bear fruit that will meet their physical needs. When they reach the fig tree, they realize that it is completely bear of fruit. Jesus immediately withered the fig tree, saying that if it didn't bear fruit that it was of no use to his kingdom.
Even though this tree was something of great beauty, there was nothing there of worth. The tree was not serving its purpose, but appeared to be because of his flourishing appearance. The duty of this tree was to provide nourishment, and since it was not fullfilling its potential Jesus caused it to wither. So what does this mean for us? Jesus was trying to tell us that if we only appear to have faith without putting it to work, we are like the fig tree that doesn't produce fruit. Genuine faith means bearing fruit for God's kingdom.
We are each given gifts from God that he plans for us to use as Christians to further his kingdom. He has a specifically designed role for each of us to play, and his plan is for us to take those gifts and use them to the best of our abilities. Some people may be great leaders, some may be great listeners, some might be servants, some might be encouragers, some might have the gift of forgiving. Some people may have the gift of being able to show love to others unconditionally.
It is important for us to realize that there is no BEST gift. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares our spiritual gifts to the human body. My gift might be "the arm" and your gift might be "the foot" and your neighbors gift might be "the leg." If you think about it that way, we are all an individual and important part but each part is vital for the success of the whole.
As a Christian community, we have to make sure that we don't:
1. become to proud of our abilties.
2. think that we don't have anything to give.
Both of these are things that could cause our gifts to be misused. God gives us so many types of gifts and we should all be proud of the things that he blesses us with. We shouldn't waste time wishing we had another gift or be jealous of others' talents.
It is also important that we don't think better of ourselves because of our gifts. It is not hard for me to stand up here and talk to you today, but that does not make make a better Christian than the person that moved all of these benches so that you would have somewhere to sit for church this morning. I don't have a clue whose job it was to set up this gym, but they did physical, hard service so that we can all come together and worship and they knew that they probably wouldn't get any recognition for it.
The most important thing for us to do is to use our gifts. In Matthew 28, Jesus tells us to "Go and make disciples of all nations." We are given our gifts so that we can use them to spread his word. Think about all of the ways that you have ever heard or seen God's word. You can teach others through music, art, writing, serving, listening, or simply loving others. Sometimes it may be hard or make us nervous--but if we put our faith in God, he will use us and our gifts to spread his love to others. God has blessed us with these gifts, and the least we can do is use them fully to glorify Him.
1 Peter 4:10 says that "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." I want to challenge you to embrace the gifts that God has given you, and if you haven't quite figured out what those gifts may be yet---pray about it.