It is easy for our heads to get too big for our hats. 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 there is no room for boasting is a good and important one. However, we must also be careful. 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
A young friend of mine writing her college essay took a uniquely interesting and evocative slant on helping people understand how interconnected we are in Christ. “Maggie” suggested that we are all small broken branches that when put together carefully become a nest of safety for those who come after us.
I love Maggie’s image. Clearly each small stick or branch is important to the nest, but if it falls out there are many others that can take it place. Being grateful to God for being chosen, even though we sometimes appear or feel dead and useless, is the key to celebrating the nest we can be for the children of tomorrow.
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. Ask him also to let you see and celebrate the gifts of others knowing that together we can build a nest of safety and hope for the next generation of believers.