Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Talent or Gift

Hundreds of fingers flew over computer keyboards, the clickety-clacking echoing in the large office. My mind was racing, not particularly focusing on work. I had been thinking about a couple of evenings before, when I had been at Bible study.

“Ok, God.” I thought. “I have been thinking about this since the other day, trying to figure out how to use this gift for you. I can’t come up with anything. I really have no idea how or what to do, so you are going to have to tell me in no uncertain terms what to do.”

The prayer had barely left the confines of my brain when the answer appeared. “Crochet baby blankets.” It was more of a thought in my mind than an actual voice.

During that particular Bible study, we talked about spiritual gifts, and even took the “quiz” offered by my church. It was a typical spiritual gifts inventory in which you answer questions, add up the corresponding amounts beside each answer and then whichever has the highest totals is where you are gifted (you can also find these inventories online).

At the time, my highest total fell in the “craftsmanship” category. As I mentioned, I could not come up with a single idea of how to use that spiritual gift to glorify the Lord. But, I prayed and God answered me. I decided that after work that day I was heading to Wal-Mart to buy yarn and a crochet hook (I hadn’t crocheted in years). I wasn’t too worried about a pattern, because often times the band around the yarn has patterns printed on them.

My idea – with help from the Lord – was to crochet the baby blankets and donate them to the hospital or the local pregnancy resource center. I was so excited! The countdown until the end of the work day had begun, and it was just after lunch. I remember the afternoon dragged on and on as I waited anxiously to start this new endeavour.

That was about ten years ago. Since then I’ve expanded my skills to include knitting, which I mostly do now – mittens, socks, hats, scarves, etc. I typically put them on the mitten tree at church and they are given (free) to those in need. I haven’t actually made any baby blankets (knitted or crocheted) for about seven or eight years now.

Over the years, I’ve struggled with whether or not my knitting/crocheting can be considered a spiritual gift. Is it a talent given to me by God, yes; but an actual spiritual gift, I don’t know. You see, I after I had taken the inventory “quiz”, I had believed craftsmanship was a spiritual gift. Then, I took part in a discussion on a Christian forum about spiritual gifts. I had mentioned that craftsmanship was my biggest gifting, and was promptly told by some that it is not something listed in Corinthians or Romans or any other place in the Bible as being an actual spiritual gift. According to this person, only what was listed in those chapters (prophecy, tongues, interpretation, etc.) were actual spiritual gifts.

Do I lose sleep over this? Of course not. Even if it isn't a "real" spiritual gift, I can use it to glorify the Lord - and really, isn't that what counts?

So, my question to you is this: Are spiritual gifts only those that are listed in the New Testament, or can anything be considered one? What is the difference between a God-given talent and a spiritual gift?