BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
I was browsing through the internet a while ago and I came upon an interesting presentation given by a Christian gentleman. At first I was tempted to move on to other inspirational entries, but for some reason the title and opening statement of this particular speaker’s address caught my eye. The title: A Twofold Exchange. He began his words with the unique concept that the gifts or talents we have received from God “will make room for us to use.” I think you’ll agree that is a different approach to considering and using the gifts God has given us. Finding interest in this phrase which he created, I began to think about this message and unpack it with my own interpretation and application.
The speaker began by suggesting that our gifts normally come natural to us without much effort. He proposes that all of us have an innate ability to do something that may not be easy for others, but comes easily for us. For some of us it may be music or art. For others it may be teaching, cooking, finances or sewing and, of course, there are countless other gifts. Sometimes we recognize and use our gifts well, but often someone surprises us by pointing out what they see in us and identifies that which we have to offer.
Usually the word “gift” is represented by a tangible object given from one person to another. In our culture it is common to give a gift to someone on a special occasion. But really, “gift” can just as appropriately mean, in the religious context, a gratuitous blessing given to us by God.
According to this speaker, the gifts we have been given are meant to accomplish God’s design or plan in order to fulfill our individual purpose in life. Interestingly, he states that he sees these gifts as not one-sided, but they hold a twofold purpose. When we use our gifts we create a sense of fulfilment for ourselves, but also the one who receives them walks away blessed, a better person, or having learned or experienced something new. He refers to this as the ”twofold exchange.”
Where have we experienced this “twofold exchange” in our life? When we think of it, from the moment we were born there was always someone sharing their gifts with us. Someone was doing what we could not do for ourselves, teaching us, guiding us, giving us what we needed, physically taking care of we. Down through all our years people were continually investing in us. Now it is our turn, our time to identify and use our gifts, not bury them, but pass them on to others. And when we do this we become a value to others, but not just to them but to ourselves as well, for we are carrying out God’s plan in our lives.
In a good sense our talents set us apart from each other. What we have to offer is not like anyone else’s specific gift. But just one caution — our gifts are never fully about us; they should point the way to how we can serve others with the gifts God has given us. But what a blessing! Many different talents can offer many and varied gifts to the world. We’ve got to see and believe that our gifts have a definite purpose. We are encouraged to use them to feel whole and complete ourselves, but also to allow others to feel the same. It is the Divine plan of God that points us to opportunities and determines how and when we can utilize those opportunities. It then becomes our responsibility to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in carrying out the plan that will build up, strengthen, inspire or assist others – our family, neighborhood, our community, the church and the world.
If we turn to the Scriptures we hear Paul telling the Ephesians “We are God’s handiwork, created to do the good work which God prepared for us to do.” And again he says, “There are different gifts distributed to us as the Spirit delivers.” Matthew refers to our talents as light and says, “Let your light shine that all will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” The late Leo Buscaglia, a gifted writer and preacher of years back, offered a great thought when he wrote: “Talent is God’s gift to us; what we do with it is our gift to God.” That’s a striking thought, but I think the best quote I found on this topic was one made by the late Irma Bombeck. Bombeck was known for her humor, but she was dead serious when she wrote: “When I stand before God in the end of my life I would hope that I wouldn’t have a single bit of talent left and could say that I used everything God gave me.”
May we be inspired by the words of those who have gone before us and who knew how to share their gifts in so many ways with the world. Let their words resonate in our lives. And may it be our fervent prayer that we will use generously every gift we have received from God to better ourselves and others as we strive to build up the Kingdom for God’s greater glory!
Sister Lauretta Leipzig