The artist who sees beauty and then creates beauty… The carpenter who can take wood and literally make anything… The mathematician who can work complex problems in his or her head… The golfer who can hit a little white ball any direction he or she wants… The musician who can take an instrument and make wonderfully pretty sounds… The gardener who can grow beautiful flowers…
God-given gifts or natural abilities?
In Romans 12: 6-8, 1 Corinthians 12: 8-10 and Ephesians 4:11 the list of gifts from the Holy Spirit is long, about twenty. Billy Graham* writes that the Old Testament mentions several gifts not even listed in the New Testament. He also says that some of these gifts may be very similar to what some would call natural abilities, not necessarily “spiritual” gifts. He cites Bezalel in Exodus 31, the craftsman who worked in gold, silver and bronze, taking precious stones to set in the metals: “And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding and knowledge.” That wisdom, understanding and knowledge goes along with his God-given artistic ability.
Then Graham says this: “God can take a talent and transform it by the power of the Holy Spirit and use it as a spiritual gift. In fact, the difference between a spiritual gift and a natural talent is frequently a cause for speculation….I am not sure we can always draw a sharp line between spiritual gifts and natural abilities—both of which come ultimately from God.”
What is he saying here?
No matter what your talent or gift, God can use it for His glory. God can take a natural ability and transform it by the power of the Holy Spirit and use it as a spiritual gift.
Let me give you some examples. I know someone who is humble. She never seeks the spotlight and if anyone gives her a compliment, she accepts it and appreciates it but you can tell that it makes little lasting impression on her. Her humility is a cornerstone of her personality but it lays the foundation for her natural talent: she is an excellent listener, a wonderful friend, a counselor of sorts. Many cannot focus on the needs of others but she can, putting her needs aside. This natural ability is a spiritual gift of “giving” of her time and the “helping” others as they need to express themselves. Giving and helping are two spiritual gifts.
I once played a round of golf with a man who did not try to evangelize with his mouth but as the game unfolded, it was pretty obvious that he had a Christian background. It was how he made references to the game, how he behaved as he went about the business of enforcing the rules of golf on himself, how he was clear about his reason for playing golf that day. He was talented [much more so than the rest of us in our group] but he was not prideful or boastful about his ability. One player in our foursome was struggling all through the round that day. He lost so many golf balls that we all began to feel sorry for him. Not only are golf balls expensive, but the loss of a ball means an extra stroke is added to the score and his score was ballooning. At the end of the day, the talented golfer paused and told the man who struggled to wait as he went to his car. He came back with an egg carton and said “Here brother.” I thought the recipient was going to cry; the carton was full of new golf balls. Nothing more was said, but something was indeed communicated.
I turn to James 1: 17 and wonder what the following scripture means: “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”
I wonder what James meant when he said “Every good thing.”
Too many Christians look at the list of spiritual gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit and say not me. Apostle, not me. I could not be a prophet. I can’t teach. I certainly can’t perform miracles. Healing is beyond my power. I don’t think I have ever spoken in tongues. The list becomes negative as we think the talent we have pales in comparison with the list. Too often we look at it and say things like “I guess I fall short.”
No necessarily so…
I think Billy Graham is telling us in his book that God can use any gift that we have as a spiritual gift.
We should not sell ourselves short.
We should also not sell God short; what God has given, He can use.
All we have to do is let Him…
*Billy Graham The Holy Spirit