Mandie and her friends tried out for the cheerleading team. Her friends made it. She didn’t.
Stewart’s project team at work is excited about their new assignment, but he doesn’t trust their team leader. He thinks he should lead.
Kids dream of playing professional sports someday.
We all want to make a difference. We see others in positions of influence and think we could do that, and perhaps do it better. We easily become envious of more highly skilled and successful peers.
Is it wrong to want that? To see ourselves as winning and influencing? Perhaps.
The Bible applauds people of all kinds of skills, given gifts by God that equip them for roles and relationships. Then, it calls us to strive for “greater gifts” in this way:
“Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone can teach. In the days of early Christianity, speaking in tongues and interpreting them was a valued asset—but it wasn’t a gift that God gave to everyone.
Not everyone is a cheerleader. Not everyone is a team leader. Not everyone can play professional sports. There are greater gifts. The Bible challenges us to win and influence with these gifts. And what are they?
Gifts that fit us, and fit God’s purpose for us. Gifts that we accept by faith from the loving hand of a perfect God, and give back to him and to others with love for them more than self-love. The Bible spends the entire next chapter (1 Corinthians 13) on that.
Often, these gifts might seem a bit odd to us, but God knows we will need them, and we will be able to use them in a greater way than some others could use them. So keep your eyes open, your prayers faithful, and your desires focused on God’s interests for you ahead of your own.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, God of all good gifts, and of the greater gifts you call us to desire, I praise you for equipping all believers, including me, to serve. To make a meaningful difference. Open my eyes to see the gifts you know I need, to accept them in faith, and to use them with love and courage. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Watch this video from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” the classic novel by C.S. Lewis where three children find themselves in the middle of spiritual war. They are figuring out what they are doing there, what is happening, and how it involves them—much like our big questions in life. These gifts that they receive do provide answers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?