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Sunday, October 12, 2014

God's Gifts to us are for Others

"For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery." Gal 5:1

It is easy for our to become slaves to the praise of others. Someone kindly offers an affirming word. Another says how much they like a homily we gave. A friend drops a note of gratitude for a kindness shown them. We walk around in the glow of appreciation, all of which is normal, natural and understandable, but when we fail to give God the credit for life, goodness and our own successes, we risk becoming full of ourselves.

Paul’s reminder that Christ sets us free from this kind of slavery is a good and important one. At the same time, while boasting is always inappropriate, we can be so defensive about our tendency to pride that we forget to be grateful for all God’s gifts. Each of us, Paul also reminds us, have a gift that does not belong to us but is given to us by God for the good of all. It is impossible, I think, to meditate too often on the image or metaphor of the Body of Christ.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes. 1 Cor. 12: 7-11
Clearly, Paul does not want us to boast about any gift we have received, but he does want us to be grateful. Whether we can read a spreadsheet and help a company grow or we know how to fix a car just by listening to the engine is not the point. Remembering that these gifts are given to us for the good of all makes all the difference.

Today ask God to show you again the gifts you have received for the building up of the Body of Christ.

Do you ever feel enslaved to your own reputation or the approval of others?

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