Monday, November 14, 2011

Talent or Gift

Simon was at the top of his field. He wasn’t just a magician. He was the best and he received praises and wealth because of it. Everyone listened to him because of his talent. But when Philip arrived to preach the gospel, Simon believed. To his credit, he didn’t argue and try to keep his followers from the truth.

But he had all this talent he was no longer using. He couldn’t do magic tricks anymore and he wasn’t getting the attention he had before. The hardest part about it was that other people were doing miracles. God had given His power to the apostles but Simon had to sit on the sidelines and watch them do amazing things. 

Peter told Simon the problem was his attitude. He had been admired and praised. He had been called the The Great One; the Power of God. And now that he actually knew God, he no longer had power. He was jealous of Peter and John and wanted to be able to do what they were doing.

Although Simon was a believer, he didn’t understand and his heart was full of evil thoughts. He thought he could use his former riches and influence to buy the power to call down the Holy Spirit. Peter told him to repent and I hope he did.

Sometimes God doesn’t use the talents we have in our secular lives. That can be confusing because His gifts can look a lot like our secular talents. I might be very good at what I do at work, but that doesn’t make it a gift of the Spirit. On the other hand, I’m not a different person at work than I am at church, so how do I make sense of this difference between talents and gifts? 

God gives His gifts to whom He chooses and uses them for His purposes. Being jealous of someone else who has a gift and gets the attention is evil. Gifts and attention go together because people notice. But the attention is not what they’re for and if I want attention or affirmation or recognition or praise, my heart is not right with God. I need to repent.

If my desire is to serve God and His people, He’ll give me the gifts I need to do His work. He might even use a talent I’ve developed in my secular life. But I need to have the right attitude.

God’s gifts are to serve the church.

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