I connected with a friend online recently who has a way with words - her writings are thought provoking and moving. I encouraged her to write more - perhaps in the form of a blog. She expressed some uncertainty and fear about taking the next step.
As I thought about her situation, I was reminded that the Lord has given all of us gifts and talents to be used. Both grow with effectiveness when utilized and are intended to be used on behalf of others to help each other. They are not meant for selfish purposes or to be hoarded.
There is a distinction between gifts and talents as the gifts mentioned in the new testament are spiritual gifts imparted to us once we are believers. But we may also have natural talents and gifts also that we were born with or discovered along life's journey. The difference is in how we have received them but the Bible can lend some insight on how we use our gifts (natural or spiritual) and talents.
Spiritual gifts are itemized in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 (notice both of these are in chapter 12 of their books). Romans 12:3-8 lists the spiritual gifts as follows: prophecy, serving others (in a general sense), teaching, exhorting, generosity, leadership, and showing mercy. First Corinthians 12:8-11 lists the gifts as the word of wisdom (ability to communicate spiritual wisdom), the word of knowledge (ability to communicate practical truth), faith (unusual reliance upon God), the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues (ability to speak in a language that one has not studied), and interpretation of tongues. The third list is found in Ephesians 4:10-12, which speaks of God giving to His church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers. [Source: gotquestions.org]
First and foremost our gifts and talents should be used. There are to be used in love, to help each other and with grace. Our gifts aren't simply given to us to hold on to because if we don't use what we have been given naturally - the need is still there and others will come along and fill that need. It may be harder for them - but the need will be met.
When you have a gift or talent, the skill associated with it comes easily to you. You're almost baffled that others don't see things the way you do, and no matter how you oversimplify or explain, it will never be as simple to the other person...because they don't have that gift or talent. This is a measure of grace.
Our natural gifts and talents may coincide and work in sync with our spiritual gifts. For example, I've discovered that I'm a runner and I seem to know how to encourage people. So if I'm jogging with a group and I see someone struggling, I can run alongside them and encourage them. This person may be so touched by what I did, that they may be curious about other aspects of my life. It may provide an opportunity for them to get to know the Christ in me whether by speaking to me or coming to church with me. Ironically, some may think that this is not special and everyone can encourage (or everyone can run). But everyone can't. We tend to minimize what we are blessed with. Once we recognize our gifts and talents, we shouldn't get hung up on the fact that we have the gift, but rather look for ways to use them. Our gifts and talents can be manifested in many ways; there's no limit on how you can use your gifts and might I add, no timeline. Use them for His Glory until you can't use them anymore.
We have gifts and we have talents and abilities - all come from the same Source but we still need to exercise the option of using them. Same source, different measure for each person.
The giver of all gifts - spiritual or natural, and talents is God. If your fearful about exercising what you have been blessed with, step out in faith and use it. You may be surprised at where it will take you.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10 [NLT]
Are you struggling with using your gifts or talents?
P.S. This post was inspired by a message I heard on Sunday.