This word denotes any good gift that flows from God’s love to humans. The word can also mean any of the spiritual graces and qualifications granted to every Christian to perform his or her task in the Church. In the narrowest sense, it is a theological term for the extraordinary graces given to individual Christians for the good of others.*
What gift are you going to give?
Today, I am going to make some folks mad.
I am going to talk about types of “Christians” who just don’t believe in charismata.
First are the folks who don’t feel they have any gifts to give away. I believe that God would disagree. Everyone has something that they can do. This past Saturday we had a project at the United Methodist Men’s meeting and I am going to use it as an example of how we all have gifts to give. At UMM we had all levels of activity represented in the group of men. Some men were what I would call “super seniors” and they felt they could not handle a chain saw so they found a job cleaning up a dirty part of the church on the outside. Then we have the seniors who could work but the pace was slower and more deliberate but work they did. Then the middle agers, who worked with all the equipment and put a lot of effort into what they did. This left the younger guys who did the most active stuff and could have worked long past when we quit. They had a tremendous amount of energy to cut limbs, pull limbs, pile limbs etc. I hope you are getting my point. Everyone had something they could do. This is the way it is with everyone. Everyone can contribute, no matter what their skill or activity level. There is enough work in the church to go around for everyone.
The Country Club Managers—These people are only interested in church because of the power. They love to control things. They love to control people. They are very good at giving other people jobs to do. The church exists for their benefit and they are very much into “belonging” to the elite group within the church. These people are big believers in in-group and out-group concepts. They are not big workers in the church. What gifts they share have an ulterior motive attached: “What can this do to increase my power?”
The people with their hands out—These people belong to church because they want gifts. They have needs. They belong to church to receive and they are on the look for more benefits. There is nothing wrong with people who have needs, but even people who have needs can give of their time and effort from time to time.
The Elderly—I gotta be careful. I’m 63. Some regard me as elderly. That’s ok but it is important not to use this as an excuse to do nothing. Everyone can do something in the church [reference the UMM group above]. People who are elderly think that the “young’uns” run the church but what happens is they don’t look around and see there are many things that can be done, from setting tables, to writing notes, to attending a coffee group or going to the church prayer meeting on Tuesday morning. This is going to sound harsh but I believe God wants us to give our gifts until we die.
Done My Duty People—These folks just think God wants their one hour for a week and that is all. When things come up in the church, they don’t feel they should attend. When asked to help, they decline. They have done their duty for the week. They have spent 1 hour in worship service. Needless to say, they don’t give their gifts to anyone.
Twice A Year Christians—You know them. On Easter and Christmas the church is full of these people. You think it is silly to see people come for 1 hour a week, but these people are satisfied with 2 hours a year. We never see them long enough to know them, much less know if they have any gifts to share. They disappear after Easter and Christmas services.
Independents—I know a few and they are mostly men. These people may be honestly shy and if that is the case, maybe they need a pass. However the “independents” I know are what I call “the lone wolf men” who just don’t want to belong to anything other than the church as a whole. They don’t want to share because they have to go home and do their own stuff. When things in their life break down, they are in charge of the fixing. When they get lost in life, they are not willing to admit it. They may be going around in circles but they have perfected the aura of the man who knows where he is going. They don’t need anything. They are not in Sunday School. They would rather die than belong to UMM. They feel that the church should be happy that they are there at all. Gifts are not given; they are held in reserve for personal use.
The Empty Nesters—These people were once very active but that time has passed. Their children are grown and are no longer in Sunday School or Youth Group. When asked to share their gifts, they launch into the speech about how they gave many, many hours in the past but now it is time for others to step up. They are active, healthy and able but they have “done their time.” I guess they are ready to rest in church for the remainder of their lives.
Mostly I have written about gifts of time and talent. I have not even touched on money. Why? Well if you have money, giving is as easy as writing a check. I should not say that it is easy to give money because for some, giving a tithe is not easy. They are not willing to share their time and talent or money.
In closing, just remember that gifts have flown our way. We have time, talent and money because God has given them to us. I don’t believe God intended us to hoard our time and money. He did not want us to hide our talent from others.
He loves us. He would prefer that we share the love we receive with others.
We do this through charismata.