I have read this 'pericope' (section of scripture) many times. I even have verse 7 on a pocket rock, it is a verse I have turned to often when I was afraid. But I have never put the two verses together before.
I am working my way through a program called 'Ministry Inquiry' as part of my candidacy journey. It is a great program, it helps you to think about calling and what GOD's call means in your life. Right now I am on the section that discusses gifts and graces. It asked me to list my gifts and graces.... something I am kind of uncomfortable trying to do. I am never really sure what to put as an answer to that question, so when I came to that one I went online to read sermons about spiritual gifts, to try to figure out what my answer was. I came across a few great sermons that were really inspirational... hhhmmmm, almost like GOD knew I needed the messages they contained....
One was by a woman who had struggled with her decision to enter ministry. She had grown up believing that women weren't suppose to be pastors, but then she received a call from GOD. She wasn't specific in her sermon about how or what that call was, just that she felt that call very strongly. She talked about the parable of the servants, and how the first two took risks to do what they were suppose to do with what their master had given them, and the third played it safe... not wanting to risk losing what he had been given.
How many of us play it safe with the gifts GOD has given us? How many of us put those gifts away, believing that the risk... of offending someone, of mishearing the call.... of failing.... is just too great. After all, it's better to play it safe than to get hurt in the process of serving... or is it? What are we missing out on if we 'play it safe' instead of taking the risk?
Paul tells Timothy to nurture the gifts GOD has given him, to do what he has to do in order to be an effective servant "for GOD did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline". GOD didn't make us to be timid, or fearful. He didn't intend for us to run from the gifts HE has given us, even if those gifts seem more a mystery than a blessing at first. HE wants us approach our gifts with the power of the Holy Spirit, and to use them to spread the love of JESUS. HE wants us to have the self-discipline to not just identify our spiritual gifts, but to learn how and when to use them.
I think that is the hard part. It can be intimidating to try to identify your spiritual gifts. Not only do you have to know what the choices are, you have to figure out which one(s) you have been given! And then you have to figure out how to use them. But according to the sermons I read, that can be the best part! Finding out what your gifts are can be a great adventure if we let it. We can take opportunities to learn as much as we can about the different ways to serve, and along the way we will learn more about ourselves, our churches, and our GOD. And when we find out what our gifts are, we can then begin another adventure... of learning how to use them. And then we will really learn about GOD and who HE is, and what His plan is for us.
There is something I have heard a number of times that has been in my mind a lot through this journey. "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips those He has called". He has equipped us with gifts, it is our job to see what those gifts are, and use them, but He has always known what they are. He picked them out just for us!
Amazing GOD, You knew us before You spoke a word of creation on this great earth. You have blessed us with so many wonderful gifts! Please help us to learn what those gifts are, and how we can use them to glorify You and show others the way to You. In JESUS' name, Amen.