1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘to throw someone in the deep end‘? Or that someone is ‘out of their depth’? It means simply, that the person in question is doing something they don’t have the strength, skill, knowledge or experience for. Maybe just one of those things, maybe all 4!
When we first become Christians, we learn to take these things to God. When life gets too tough, when situations get out of hand, when we are faced with the humanly insurmountable, we run to God with a plaintive ‘help!’, and learn that He does in fact respond to our calls.
But that is not only what God has called us to. If we continue only in this way, we become guilty of using our Christianity as a ‘crutch’, to only prop up those areas where we feel we alone cannot survive without God, but never wholly submitting our lives to Him.
One of the things that is hardest for me to give up is my competence. I’m not the most awesome person on the earth in any field, but God certainly has given me certain gifts to use in my life, and I use many of them daily. In some of these things, certainly by the world’s standards, I am ‘competent’.
When I am out of my depth, I rely on God’s strength and guidance, I am continually going to Him in prayer, petitioning, praising, reading His Word, because I know I need these things. I recently had this experience with a short stay in hospital for some surgery. After that surgery I had to rely on God for the most basic things – going to the bathroom was hard work, providing I could even walk that far (about 10 feet) without falling over or being unwell. I had to desperately cling to God for the smallest (and most routine) of things.
But when I am in my area of ‘competence’, I am tempted not to rely on God as much. I know I can do what I am trying to do, so I just get on with it. What is the risk here since God has given me these talents? That I will not go where He wants, but I will use my gifts to ‘go my own way’. In effect, I call out to God ‘Don’t worry, God, I’ve got this one‘.
1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Going back to the verses above in 1 Peter – even in the areas where God has gifted us, we need to be ‘as one who serves by the strength that God supplies’. We need to not live in our own competence, believing we know our limits and our abilities and so call out ‘thanks anyway God, I can cope with this one‘.
We need to live daily like we are out of our depth. Especially in the areas where we have been gifted by God, we need to bring those things back to Him so they can be used properly and fully in His service, rather than ours. It is only when we fully submit those gifts and talents that we have been given back to God, that He will fully use them for His kingdom and glory!
Lord God, thank you for the gifts you have given me. Thank you that you have provided a way for me to serve You in some way. Help me not to hold onto these gifts, to hold onto the illusion of personal competence, but submit even these things back to You that my whole life will be submitted to Yours, not just the bits I think that are out of my control. Use me for your glory, rather than allowing me to wander in search of my own. In Jesus Name, Amen,