February 9 I Friday
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” —1 Peter 4:10
Why did Jesus invite four of His disciples with, “I will make you fishers of men”? He could have said to Peter, Andrew, James and John, “Come, follow me, and I will make you builders of the kingdom of God.” To have said this would have been beyond the realm of their understanding and in all probability, impossible to them. As very young men, these four were likely involved in the same career as their fathers and grandfathers. Fishing was all they knew, but Jesus recognized how their vocational training could be redirected to spiritual work.
The same can be said for Paul. Before his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road, he was a Pharisee, totally committed to Judaism and zealous in his beliefs. He could not accept the fact that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah would be scorned, rejected, humiliated and die as a common criminal on a Roman cross. Determined to annihilate the Christian movement, Paul was swift and thorough in organizing and mobilizing troops to round-up believers for imprisonment, floggings and even death. Wherever he went, a reputation for persecuting Christians preceded him, but Jesus transformed Paul and used his organizational skills to establish churches and expand His kingdom.
Some of us fear a relationship with God because we think He will change us into people we are not. This is actually true, but not in the way we expect. When we believe in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit, our character will change according to the new life we have received in Christ. We will find ourselves being convicted of wrong doing, but also living out the fruit of the Spirit as Jesus begins the work of transforming our lives. His Spirit living in us does not change our personalities. Upon becoming a Christian, an introvert will not suddenly become an extrovert, and an easygoing person will not suddenly become uptight and pensive.
In the same way, we still retain our natural gifts, but they will now be energized by the Holy Spirit for spiritual ends. As a result, we may find ourselves using leadership skills we practice in business to head up church committees. Academic prowess may no longer be limited to learning facilities but to apologetic debates which defend the truths of Scripture. Placing others first will lead us to extend kindness and generosity to the needy in our communities and around the world. Our skills will not change upon coming to know Jesus, but our lives and motivations will. We can trust the God who has gifted us will use our unique talents and abilities for the benefit of others, which in turn, builds His kingdom according to His design.
Prayer: Father God, Thank You for gifting me as You have. I pray that You develop these gifts to their utmost and help me to use them in expanding Your kingdom. Thank You, Lord.