No one is to come before me without a gift. You must work for six days, but on the seventh day you must rest—even during the planting season and the harvest season. Celebrate the Feast of Weeks when you gather the first grain of the wheat harvest. And celebrate the Feast of Shelters in the fall. Exodus 34:20-22
One of my favorite quotes from VeggieTales® comes from A Snoodles Tale:
“…but Sir…if you made this great land, can’t you make Snoodles obey your command?”
“…A gift that’s demanded is no gift at all.”
God gives us gifts. He provides for us, and he is generously merciful and gracious, which means he gives us what we need but also a surplus of what we don’t need but will enjoy. It’s not that we’re all materialistically wealthy. God isn’t a god of materialism. We’re more important than mere stuff. He gifts us with relationships, opportunities, emotions, personalities, and much more.
Thinking outside the prettily-wrapped gift box, what does God give you?
Consider people in your life:
Consider emotions that enhance your life:
Consider personality traits:
Consider opportunities you’ve been given:
Imagine each of the words and phrases you’ve considered in response to the above questions, each placed in a beautifully-wrapped gift box.
Have you fully unwrapped the gifts God has presented to you? Have you torn apart each package and thoroughly explored the contents of the gift like a young child on Christmas morning? Have you barely peeked inside? Have you set the gift aside, thinking you’ll get to it someday or saving it until you really need it?
God doesn’t give you display models of gifts. He doesn’t intend for you to fill a china cabinet of untouchables and unusable gifts. He’s given you gifts for faith-building reasons. The first reason is to accept the gift and acknowledge the giver. The second is to use the gift to its fullest potential – not the potential you believe it has, but the potential God says it has. The third reason is to give the gift back to God.
Re-gifting to God isn’t the same as slyly re-gifting a gift Aunt Gladys gave you because you don’t like it. Re-gifting to God isn’t about getting rid of something you don’t want. Re-gifting to God is sacrificially offering his gifts back to him by fully using them for his glory. It’s about not taking personal ownership of the gifts but instead recognizing the source of and reason for the gifts. God gives the gifts, and he wants you to fully use them in obedience to him. In the process, he gets all the glory, and you get all the growth.
God’s gifts exponentially multiply. It would make sense that in order to gift something back to God, you have to divide it, keeping only a portion. And that is often our heartitude and limited understanding of tithe. That was true for the material possessions of the Hebrews, and it’s a good starting point for us as we begin to develop a habitual lifestyle of tithing. However, let’s not stop there. When God places a gift of relationship, opportunity, or characteristics in our hands, we can unwrap it, fully embrace it and offer it back to God, and we end up with just as much, if not more, of what God originally gave us. Plus, our God-given gifts ripple throughout the lives of others as we use them to glorify him. When we choose to use God-given gifts for self-focused purposes, the gifts will shrink. They might look full-blown, but they’re filled with temporary puffs of selfish air. When we choose to use God-given gifts for God-focused purposes, the gifts grow, filling with life-producing nourishment. God’s work is kingdom work. He’s a builder. Oh, he destroys some things: anything full of human self – not because he’s a proud God who wants to be the center of everything, but because he is a trustworthy and true God who is the center of everything. He knows that in order for us to grow into our full God-ordained potential, we must die to our selves, so he’s willing to destroy our selves as we yield to him. As we yield to him, the construction process thrives. It’s wonderful to have the architect of our lives also serve as the best general contractor, carpenter, electrician, and interior designer.
You’ve likely only caught a glimpse of the beauty and grandeur of the dwelling place he’s creating for you. What do you know about it so far?