I enjoy analogies and word pictures of spiritual truths but sometimes I find they lack a practical application. For instance I’ve heard speakers talk about the giving and receiving of a material gift as an illustration of the fact that God gives gifts, but we must receive them. With a natural gift we would rip off the wrapping paper, open the box and enjoy the gift. How do we spiritually “rip off” the wrapping paper, open up what God has for us and draw upon our God given gifts and talents? How do we become good recipients of all God has for us?
Firstly we believe that God has gifted us. Even the gift of salvation requires that we believe that God has made salvation available. If we don’t believe God gives gifts we won’t be motivated to discover what our gifts are. 1 Corinthians 12 assures us that we have all been gifted but not in the same way. It is up to us to discover exactly how God has gifted us. Some people seem to automatically know this, but for others it is a process of experimenting. Even if you know your giftedness is an area like writing it still may take time to work out what God wants you to write – short stories, non-fiction, blog articles, academic papers etc.
Secondly, we take hold of what God has given us (Philippians 3:12) and integrate it into our lives. Salvation, gifts, ministry have all been made available to us but we have to show some initiative. We begin to talk, pray and act in agreement with the way God has gifted us. We are to be motivated, faithful, teachable and available as we look for ways to use our giftedness.
Thirdly Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6). Our gifts don’t come fully developed. Usually they require practice, honing and maturing. As we do this we notice that through our gifts others are edified and encouraged.
We become good recipients of God’s gifts when we believe that God has gifted us; when we discover exactly how we are gifted; as we seek out opportunities to use our giftedness; and when we exercise our gifts with the purpose of edifying and encouraging others.