Writing is a funny thing. Some days I sit down at the keyboard and in minutes have a thousand words down and a blog post ready to go. Some days not. Today was one of the latter days.
I’ve stared at a blank screen for some time, and done a few miles of pacing up and down the room. It might be because i’ve been working on other projects and my creative juices need replenishing, but who knows.
It got me thinking about the various gifts and talents those in the church have been given by God. Whether spiritual in nature, musical or administrative, God has liberally given us all gifts to use for His glory in supporting the Body of Christ.
Yet just because one has a gift in a certain area, does not mean its use comes easily to them. I hope I have some small gift of writing and teaching, and yet today neither has come easily. I’ve had to work hard at it to get the words out.
Having a gift in any area does not negate the need for hard work and practise.
I am reminded by this verse penned by the Apostle Paul:
So then, my beloved, even as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.Philippians 2:12 (WEB)
Paul is not telling his readers that they must work to achieve their salvation. Far from it. Paul went to great lengths to preach the Gospel of grace meaning that salvation is a gift from God and achieved by Christ’s work at the cross. We cannot earn salvation any more than the Old Testament believers could fulfil all aspects of the law. We all need a Saviour to be our substitute.
Paul is saying that we ought to work out our salvation, that is, live it out in our everyday lives. We have it already, it belongs to us because of Jesus, so now let’s live like a saved people.
From the moment we accept Jesus as our Saviour, we begin a journey. On the one hand, we are sanctified at that very moment, but on another, we must work towards sanctification through surrendering ourselves to God and His ways.
Similarly, Paul tells Timothy:
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables. Exercise yourself toward godliness.1 Timothy 4:7 (WEB)
Another translation renders this verse as “train yourselves to be godly.” While we fully possess salvation, we must also train ourselves for godliness. It takes work to do this.
God makes us righteous in our spirits, exchanging our unrighteousness for Christ’s righteousness. That position will never change. But we are more than just our spirits, and our mind, will and emotions all need to be trained in line with God’s Word.
Romans 12:1-2 tells us to renew our minds that we might be transformed into Christ’s likeness. This is a process which takes time.
Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.Romans 12:1-2 (WEB)
In the same way, we are given spiritual or natural gifts by God the Father who made us. These gifts must be trained and practised in order to grow strong and effective.
My teaching gift has been apparent for some time, and yet I still have much to learn to use it effectively. I must study to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, and I must practise both writing and speaking, learning what works and what does not. There is no shortcut to doing this.
Perhaps you are a natural singer. Even so, you will still need to practise the songs you sing, harmonies and melodies, and different ways you can use that voice.
Perhaps your gifts are in church administration. Again, you too will need to practise those skills to deploy with great effect. You might need to learn how to use a new accounting system or piece of software, you might need to learn different organisational skills or you may simply need to give time to tidying, clearing and sorting.
Do not neglect your gift. It is a precious thing, and it needs to be nurtured to grow strong. How can you develop it for the Lord today?