Gift is a central concept to the good news of Jesus Christ. if we don’t understand what a gift is, we don’t understand what God is doing in the world through the Holy Spirit, bringing us friendship with God.
A gift is entirely free with no obligation or strings attached. Think about someone who you haven’t seen in a while and they bring you a birthday present. If part of you says thank you, but the other part says, “Darn, now I need to bring him a present,” you are missing out on the gift. A gift is not a courtesy. A gift is a free offering of what you have for another. Imagine a gift for a child. When I give Dominic a present, it mostly doesn’t matter what it is, he is ecstatic about it. He says thank you and starts playing. That is a gift.
The free gift of grace is something much more. It is being blind and then seeing. Imagine losing your sight completely. And then one day, thanks to God, you can see again. There would be a gratefulness in this so much more than a present. In fact, you can’t repay it, but you can honor it.
In the church, we talk about Gifts of the Spirit. These are aspects of who you are that has been bestowed upon you by the Lord for a purpose. If you use those gifts for God’s purpose, you will flourish and bear fruit. If you do not, the gifts will atrophy.
When we are asked to support the church with our gifts, this is a profoundly spiritual discipline taking place. Do you see your life? What you have and who you are, as gifts from your creator? Do you see the sweat of your brow as a gift of your creator? Do you see the free gift of God’s forgiveness, that you do not need to strive for your own salvation? God has set us free from captivity to the slavery of sin and death. How are we going to continually respond to this freedom?
When the church talks about gifts, we talk about a lot of things, but we are also talking about money. We would not be here were it not for the financial gifts of many. We would not have this building. We would not have these ministries. I would not be here. Before going into ministry, I thought the worst thing about it would be talking about money. Yet next to the amazing miracle of God’s love, money is a straight forward thing. We are doing great things here. And I am happy to continue to ask for money because if we are not giving to God we are shutting ourselves off from a means of grace.
The thing about our gifts, though, spiritual and financial, is that it is much easier to hide them under a bushel basket than to share them. It is much easier to use them to support ourselves than to stretch who we are to be God’s hands and feet.
Prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness, these all flow together as responses to God’s love. The vows of membership are made to God and to each other.
Peace to you all this day,