By Marcia Lee Laycock
“Did you have a good Christmas? What did you get?”
Those two sentences seem to go hand in hand. I used to hear them a lot in times past, as people chatted with my kids. The girls always gave the same answer, naming a couple of their favorite gifts. As I listened to the exchange, I chuckled to myself. There were a couple of presents given one year that were not really intended for the recipient. One of the girls gave “the family” a large perfumed candle. “To go in the bathroom,” she said, grinning. The rest of us grinned back - we all knew who spent hours in the tub.
You’ve probably been given one or two gifts of that sort at some point, if not at Christmas, perhaps for your birthday. Many wives have received such “useful” presents - a set of pots and pans; a blender; an iron. I remember one my husband gave me many years ago. We were building a house at the time so I suppose it was a practical gift, but a shiny new Spalding saw was not what I had envisioned for my birthday! He grinned a lot when he gave it to me, like my daughter did when we unwrapped that candle. I knew who was going to do the sawing.
Like that candle and that saw, God’s gifts are not just intended for the recipient. He intends to use them Himself. It is up to us to put hands and feet to those intentions by serving others. The prophet Isaiah new this when he said - “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” (Isaiah 50:4) The writer of 1 Corinthians also knew the principle well. He stresses that the gifts God gives are intended, not for the benefit or honor of those employing them, but for the “strengthening of the church.”(1Cor.14:26) The apostle Peter makes this clear when he says – “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
God’s gifts are intended for others, but we also benefit when we use what we have been given, both spiritual gifts and natural talents, to that end. There is no greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction than that which comes when we have used what we have been given to strengthen others. Whether it is in providing a meal on Christmas day for those in need, teaching Mathematics in grade 2, providing efficient secretarial skills in an office, digging a ditch for a sewer line or a post hole for a fence to keep the cows in, preaching a sermon on Sunday morning or writing a novel that touches the hearts of its readers; if you are using the gifts God gave you, you will be blessed.
So. Did you have a good Christmas? What did you get?
Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards.