On Sunday we read Romans 12, which prompted a family discussion on how different people are given different gifts. It’s gotten me thinking about how often we have a very narrow view of gifts. Much of the teaching I’ve heard in the church has been limited to the more public gifts like preaching or singing. While gifts like prophecy, teaching, and leading are elevated, the other gifts listed in Romans 12 are often overlooked. Sometimes they’re treated like hobbies or personal preferences rather than true gifts that should be nurtured and pursued diligently. But they are listed right there alongside the more “glorified” talents!

However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:6-8 NASB2020

I think about the people I know who have blossomed when they embraced gifts such as showing mercy to the vulnerable, giving generously, or being a comforter to those who are sick or mourning. Honestly, those are the people I think of first when considering examples of faith. It’s not the eloquent preacher or the person with incredible musical talents. It’s the one who is always faithful to show up when they know you’re hurting. The person who pulls out their wallet without question when they hear of someone having a hard time. It’s the neighbor who always opens their door with a listening ear and a hot meal. 

Not burying our talents

We discussed that often there is a special joy that comes with using our gifts. While there are many things that we can (and should) do in our Christian lives that may not necessarily be our strong suit, it’s incredible to watch people using their gifts. And it’s incredible to experience the joy in discovering and using our own gifts. 

I think about the parable of the “one talent man” often. I have a cautious, risk-averse nature and can see a lot of myself in him. There have been too many times when I buried my gifts out of shyness or fear of failure. But God doesn’t give us our gifts to bury in the ground or hoard for ourselves. He tells us right there in Romans 12 what their purpose is. “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly.”