Do Not Neglect Your Gift

In a tender exchange between father and son, I witnessed the passing of a baton from one generation to the next – an exchange filled with great hope, anticipation, and sincere prayers for a God-filled future. So intimate was the moment, I felt like I was trespassing; and yet I had been welcomed into the moment, so I sat, watched and learned. father-and-son-by-darren-johnson

So too is our scripture passage from 1 Timothy 4:6-16. Paul gives tender instructions to his spiritual son Timothy, in hopes that Timothy would continue to walk in the ways of the Lord. Paul’s guidelines were not simply for Timothy’s sake, but also for the many men, women and children under Timothy’s spiritual care and leadership. The shared words mattered to many; Paul’s suggestion that Timothy’s perseverance in right doctrine and teaching would save both himself and his hearers proved to be true. Eventually, Paul’s words impacted millions as the letter containing them became recognized as part of our Holy Scriptures.

Today we read Paul’s words not just as a historical conversation between Paul and Timothy, but also as inspired instructions from God to us. Be nourished on the truths of the faith – truths about who God is, His character and values, how He sees you, and where you fit within His plan. Recognize God’s truths are bigger than you simply getting to heaven – they’re about – as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer – working with God to bring His Kingdom to earth. Seek out good teaching on God’s words – teaching that challenges and grows you – teaching that promotes godliness and good fruit – teaching that reflects the truths of the faith.

Avoid godless myths and old wives’ tales. Today these are often disguised as public opinion, the loudest voices, fear-based responses, and “might making right”. Godless myths cause us to ignore oppression, blame victims, respond with fear instead of compassion, and fail to address social injustices for God’s treasured people – the stranger, foreigner, widow and orphan. Pursue training in godliness, and “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity”. Ask yourself, “What example am I setting for those who observe my life?” Do they see godliness? Are they attracted by the hope they see lived out in your life?

christmas-in-kuwait-by-143d-escAnd perhaps most touching – I can picture Paul pulling Timothy close at this point, tears filling his eyes – do not neglect your gift. Timothy received gifts from God – not for his own edification and pride – but for the furtherance of God’s message and plan. But it’s not just Timothy who received gifts. Each one of us have God-given gifts and their faithful use will impact not only our lives, but the lives of many others.

What are your gifts? What skills and talents are uniquely yours? Are you neglecting them – or using them for God’s Kingdom? Give yourself wholly to those gifts – allow God to use them for his purposes. Don’t discount your gifts, thinking they’re meaningless or useless to God. Not all are called to preach or write. God needs carpenters, teachers, caregivers, nurses, administrators, musicians, leaders, friends and parents. The question isn’t so much, “What can I do with these gifts?” but rather, “How will I welcome God to use them?” And then, we need to be open to the oft-surprising answer.

If someone witnessed a tender exchange between you and God, what would they hear? What words would be spoken? Which ones from Paul and Timothy’s exchange speak to you, convict and challenge you? Which words might God challenge you to tell others?

As Paul told Timothy – hold onto the promise. Labor and strive because your hope is in the living God, the Savior of all people!