Your spiritual gift is worth more than a plate of cookies

As I’ve stated in many other posts, I love giving people things. I love giving gifts. Birthdays. Christmas. Anniversary. Just because. There’s nothing better than to show up unexpectedly and deliver a present to someone just for the heck of it. Anyone else ever been there?

It’s a great trait to have, sure, but it can be a double-edged sword too. What if you don’t have enough money to purchase gifts? What if you don’t have time to make something intricate and beautiful? Can you still go see people if you don’t bring a gift? Maybe that sounds silly, but that’s one of those silly little fears that pop up at the back of my head. I can’t just show up at somebody’s house or workplace without something give, can I? That’s rude, isn’t it?

What I need to remember (and everyone like me) is that the best gifts you can give aren’t always wrapped up in boxes and ribbons. Sometimes, the best gift you can offer is your time and your perspective on following Jesus.

wood-light-brown-dessertToday’s verses are Romans 1:11-12.

For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.

In my life, I’ve never longed to visit anyone to bring a spiritual gift. Have you? This is Paul talking to the Church at Rome, though, so if Paul can talk like this, it’s most likely something we should pay attention to.

Paul is this legendary figure in my mind, so it’s hard to remember that he had nothing. He traveled from one corner of the continent to the other. He didn’t have a home or family. He didn’t have possessions really. So of course he had no tangible gifts to bring people. But what he could bring to share with others was the spiritual gift God had given him.

I don’t take my spiritual gifts seriously often enough. If you’re a Christ-follower, you have one too, and God has given them to us so that we can enrich and encourage the Body of Christ, the Church. So what if you don’t have time to make cookies? So what if you don’t have enough money to buy something nice? The gift of your time and your care and your love is worth more than you might think.

What I also love about this is how Paul states that he wants to visit to encourage the people of the Church at Rome but that he also needs encouragement too. If Paul can admit to needing encouragement, heck–I’m right there with him.

So don’t beat yourself up if you can’t give someone a gift. And absolutely don’t let your perceived lack of something prevent you from spending time with other believers. Don’t underestimate the power of the spiritual gift God has given you. He can use you to bless people ten times more than a plate of cookies could. You just have to let Him.

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Cliff at the waterfall - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Only human

Have you ever tried to meet impossible expectations? Have you ever deluded yourself into believing that you could accomplish the impossible? And I’m not talking about standing up in the face of persecution. I’m not talking about even winning a battle no one said you could win. I’m talking truly impossible. Like walking on water or flying without a plane or trying to perfect.

Some things are impossible for us.  We’re only human, right? We can do many things, but many things are still outside our reach. Being perfect is one of them.

Cliff at the waterfall - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Cliff at the waterfall - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verse is Psalm 37:24.

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Psalm 37 is one of my favorite Psalms. It’s calming and comforting and encouraging, and if you need a lift this morning, I really recommend reading through it.

What caught my eye this morning, however, is how this verse addresses the fact that we are going to stumble. Usually, I focus on the fact that we’ll never fall because God is holding us. But those three words at the beginning — “Though they stumble” — tell us a lot about God and a lot about ourselves.

I spent so much time as a child trying to be perfect. Because being perfect made people happy, and even then I was an indefatigable people pleaser. I would get so frustrated because I couldn’t be perfect. I could get close, but never all the way because as soon as I had a day when I didn’t do anything wrong, I was proud of it. And that blew the whole thing.

That mentality carried over into my adult years, and even though I knew that being perfect wasn’t what saved me, that didn’t stop me from trying. Perfection was the aim. Never taking a wrong step was the goal. I knew in my heart and in my mind that my actions didn’t make me righteous (Christ did that), but I had convinced myself that being perfect would make God happy. Obeying all His rules, all His laws, and never doing anything contrary to what He wanted: that was how I tried to live.

But I couldn’t do it. And at the end of the day, all I had was frustration, at myself for my imperfection and at God for setting me up to fail.

When perfection is your goal, you’ll never accomplish it. It is impossible for us to be perfect in any sense of the word. Even outside of believing and following Christ, perfection is impossible. In the secular realm, it’s less important actually, because people outside the church know they make mistakes and don’t have a problem learning from them so they don’t repeat them. But in the church, it’s a different story. If you follow Christ and you make a mistake, there must be something wrong with you. Right?

So how do you explain today’s verse?

I could go into detail about all the Scriptures that talk about our dual personalities and our struggle with desires that aren’t of God and how God understands all that, but the simple truth is that we are going to screw up. Because we’re only human. We are going to stumble. We’re going to trip over obstacles in our path. We’re going to trip over our own feet. Even if we try to avoid it, we’ll still stumble because we’re not perfect.

But God says that even though we stumble, we aren’t going to fall.

There’s a big difference between tripping over your feet and taking a nosedive in the mud. Tripping is uncomfortable. You can jar your back. You can twist your ankle. You can stub your toe. You can be afraid that you’re going to fall. That’s all part of stumbling. But falling is worse.

As long as you have God by the hand and don’t let go of Him, when you stumble, you won’t fall because He will hold you up.