Hope this post finds you all with your power restored! Praise God that he, the ultimate power of the universe, is not subject to human technology and his power and influence in the world does not go down when a storm hits! Actually, quite to the contrary, it is when the storms of life hit that God’s power is so greatly manifested. Anyway, that is a message for another day I suppose. So, on to the subject of the actual message for this week.
It is sure a good thing that God does not give gifts like we give gifts. Our perspective on gift giving, is too often, connected to giving to those who “deserve” it. If you wouldn’t mind entertaining a throwback to December, think of the Christmas song, Santa Clause is Coming to Town– “you’d better watch out, you’d better not cry, better not pout…he’s makin’ a list, checking it twice, gonna find out whose naughty and nice.” Even here, in the time of celebrating the greatest gift ever given, we find the perspective that you will only get a gift if you deserve it. But, biblically speaking, a gift earned is not gift at all. Gifts are given by grace; they must be rooted in grace to be properly understood and used. Actually, grace and gifts are two terms and two concepts inseparably connected.
Not to get too Greeky on you but, the word usually translated grace in English is the Greek word charis. Charis means, most basically, God’s unmerited favor- His loving kindness bestowed upon a person, unearned and undeserving. It is a gift. This leads us to the term that is most often translated gift– it is charisma and as you can see, comes from the word charis (grace) Charisma is most simply put- the outworking of charis. Charismata is most often talked about as gifts received unearned and undeserving as a result of charis and to be used in keeping with charis! (This only makes sense as these gifts are an outworking of charis the first place.) Charis gives birth to charisma. God gives his unmerited favor (charis) and the outworking of that grace is gifts (charasma) that look like the hands and feet of unmerited favor (charisma).
This understanding, though I may be confusing the snot out of you, is essential because the gifts God gives us are not earned by us, but given to us freely and must be used in the same manner they are given. That is, in the lives of undeserving people! They do not belong to us. We have not earned them to do what we darn well please! God does not give like we give- praise Jesus for that. If he did, none of us would have a gift to do anything with including life itself. None of us can earn anything from God. We are all sinners saved by charis! He gives us gifts undeserved and he calls us to use his gifts, rooted in and as an outpouring of his grace, to display his kingdom in the lives of undeserving people.
So, I am going to put something harshly for a moment! If you have a gift given you by God (and if you are in Christ you do) and you are withholding the use of your gift in the lives of people until they “deserve” it, well, then there is a real reason that “you’d better watch out.” God gives us undeserved favor and undeserved gifts and call us to use them in the lives of those just like us- the undeserving.
Bless you, Pastor Cole