Encouragement for Today - December 21, 2005



Encouragement for Today


“The Wrong Gift” – Part 1

Susanne Scheppmann, Co-editor of Online Devotions, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member


Key Verse:

2 Timothy 1:6, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…” (NIV) 



All I longed for was a Mr. Ed Talking Puppet. He topped my wish list of items for that Christmas season when I was nine.  I adored horses.  As an only child, I needed a talking companion and he was a television celebrity. Oh, my friends would be so envious!  Mr. Ed would be the perfect gift.


Sure enough, on Christmas morning an oblong box wrapped in red tissue paper peeked from among various packages.  Mr. Ed!  I tore open the wrapping to discover a talking puppet, but it was a green sea serpent named, Cecil.  This puppet resulted from the old cartoon of Beanie and Cecil.  I couldn’t believe my eyes or hide my disappointment.


My mother tried to explain to me that Mr. Ed was sold out. She believed this outlandish emerald monster would be a good substitute. My childish heart filled with displeasure and anger.  I threw it on the floor, stomped out of the room, and refused to be consoled.


The sad thing is, I can still be disappointed with a gift purchased by a loved one.  Just a few years ago, I was certain my husband had secretly bought a new laptop computer for me.  Instead, I received several other beautiful gifts, but not a laptop.  As an adult, I hid my disappointment, but inside I still wished for the computer.


As I reflect on this, I realize I often envy other Christian’s spiritual gifts and talents. Let me list a few gifts I covet:  to be a melodious musician, an adept artist, a merciful missionary or an effective evangelist.  It’s not that I can’t do a little of all of these things, but I want to be gifted.  I want to shine in those spiritual areas.  Oh, my Christian friends would be so envious!  Sometimes I still sound as I did at age nine.


I guess I need to grow up and realize my gifts are not for me, but to serve others.   It’s just like in The Purpose Driven Life when Rick Warren writes, “It’s not about you.”  He is right, it is not about me; it’s about God and His desired purpose in my life. I need to learn to utilize my own spiritual gifts and talents to benefit others, not myself. In other words, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).


God has granted each one of us with special gifts and talents.  He desires that we use our giftedness to bring glory to His Name and the Kingdom of God.   He wants our gifts to shine brightly to illuminate a dark world.  Here is just a short list of examples of things God may have endowed us to use.


  • Encouragement
  • Administration
  • Mercy
  • Vocal talent
  • Ability to write
  • Compassion
  • Opportunity to help the poor


The list could go on and on. Whatever it may be God never gives the wrong gift.


I have decided to be grateful for my abilities and vow to use them as God intended them to be used — to aid others.  So will you join me in this endeavor?  As we wrap presents, bake gingerbread, and stoke the fireplace, let’s fan the flame of God’s gifts to each of us.  Let’s shine brightly for the Glory of God.


Application Steps:

Take a personal inventory of God’s spiritual gifts and talents in your own life.  Don’t be modest.  Acknowledge what you can do to help someone else.  Then resolve to use each gift or talent at least once during this month of celebration of Jesus’ birth. 


Reflection Points:       

Do I value my spiritual gifts?


How can I utilize my gifts and talents on a regular basis?


Why do I envy other peoples spiritual gifts?


Power Verses:

James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.“ (NIV) 


1 Corinthians 14:12, “So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” (NIV) 


Romans 12:6, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.” (NIV) 


1 Corinthians 12:4, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. (NIV) 


1 Peter 4:10, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.” (NIV) 


Additional Resources:

Living Life on Purpose, by Lysa TerKeurst



Life Planning Journal, by Lysa TerKeurst



Shaped with Purpose (workbook), by Renee Swope




Originally published Wednesday, 21 December 2005.