The Gift that Didn’t

As a Pastor, I have to be very careful that I am not preaching to others and omitting to follow my own words.  However, being human, I am prone to make mistakes.  The unfortunate reality of life is that pastors are expected to live above reproach; and sometimes, even a quick apology is not enough to remove the blemish.  Hence, I am that much more challenged to live what I preach. On the other hand, I am also challenged to be compassionate about the faith walk or lack thereof of others.

FriendsOne of my recent sermons was a challenge to the hearers to flip the script.  We have been exploring our understanding of what it means to be a member to the Kingdom of God.  Kingdom citizens are not conformed to this world but are transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:1-2).  Gaging a reaction or overreaction can help to diffuse difficult situations before they start.  As I explained, “we never know what the others might be going through.”  Beautiful sermon. The challenge now is to live it.

Well the test of the strength of my conviction came recently when I entered a store as it was opening.  I entered the establishment first and said, “Good morning.”  No response.  I did a mental inventory of my approach to explore possible reason for the silence, but could see none.  Another customer behind me said good morning in very much the same manner and was greeted with a beautiful smile and good morning.  Interesting.

I heard my thoughts.  Her gift to me that morning should have been a sunny disposition.  She should have met ME at the point of my need. She should have known better…but she didn’t. My sense of entitlement did not change what was happening.

As I walked away, I considered my sermon.  I explored possible reasons why the salesperson did not respond to me and none of them was in her favor. It was then that I thought about something I have often told my son: keep doing what you know is right, even if the other person does not respond favorably. Simply put, while good customer service etiquette should have caused her to greet, at the end of the day, she made a choice to the contrary. That was her prerogative.

I walked away praying for both of us that day: the sales person, that she might sensitive to the needs of all customers; that if she was going through something, it would not make her bitter but better; that she would be a little more alert; and for me that I might not be too hasty to jump to conclusions; that I might consider other ways to share the love of Christ; that situations like this will not make me bitter but better.


What are We Doing with Our Gifts?

It has been said that many of us with the necessary gifts to advance the Kingdom of God are sitting on the pew.  We are awaiting an invitation.  We have even claimed that if we were asked we would participate. But is this a biblical response to stewardship?

We are all given gifts by the Lord for the building up of the Kingdom.  These gifts are not ours but rather entrusted to us to further God’s Kingdom. Therefore, we are only stewards of them and not actual owners.  As it states in I Corinthians 12:7 (NLT), the gifts we were given are for the benefit of all. Holding our gifts for ransom is not the action of a Kingdom minded citizen.

Jesus’ presence on the earth was not only to bring salvation, but to usher in the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom of God is God’s way of doing things.  II Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if anyone be in Christ, he/she is a new creature. Old things are passed away and all things become new. This newness means that we are passed from the old mindset of the world into a new mindset of the Kingdom.  Further development of this mindset is brought about by the renewing of our minds so that we can prove what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God for our lives (Romans 12:2 NLT).

So as we sit awaiting others to ask us to use our gifts, let us ask ourselves if we are being good stewards of what has been entrusted to us? If a place has not been made for us, have we responded like the prophet Isaiah and said, here I am send me (Isaiah 6:8)?

May we be good and faithful servants to the gifts that have been entrusted to us.