It was the closest to a “royal wedding” I’ve ever witnessed. Receiving an invitation at all was honor enough. Attending in person was nothing short of awe-inspiring. As Trevor and I left College Church that evening, I expected nothing more from the bride and groom. But I had a surprise coming.
A few weeks after the wedding, my husband and I received a package from the newly-married couple. Inside was a beautifully framed picture of the four of us with our arms around each other on their wedding day.
The bride and groom had sent us a gift? Since when does that happen? What an unexpected surprise; And how like our generous Jesus.
Jesus Gave Us Gifts
It was gift enough! His crucifixion and resurrection secured our forgiveness of sin and adoption into the family.
But Jesus didn’t stop there.
On top of all this, He gave us gifts—personalized gifts:
“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.’” (Eph. 4:7-8).
You’ve probably heard these gifts referred to as spiritual gifts; I like how James Montgomery Boice points out that the word (“charismata”) actually means a “grace gift.”
Today, sit back and marvel at your Savior’s generous heart. As The Expository Commentary points out,
“Instead of receiving gifts (i.e., the spoils of war) from those vanquished, Christ (having conquered his enemies by defeating death) sovereignly gives gifts to his followers.”
He Won These Gifts Through His Humility
Just as the gift we received in the mail must have cost that bride and groom significantly (hiring a professional photographer, taking the time to greet and take pictures with all their guests, buying the frames, packaging them all and paying for postage), Jesus’ personalized grace gift came at exorbitant cost to Himself.
Immediately before the apostle Paul launches into a list of some of the grace gifts Jesus distributed, he tells us how Jesus secured this gift for you and me:
“(In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)” (Eph. 4:9-10).
Jesus didn’t just humble Himself at His crucifixion; He did so right from the start, in His incarnation. John 17:5 gives us a sense of the weighty glory Jesus laid aside in order to come to earth to complete His mission. Hear His heartfelt plea as He pours His heart out to His Father just before His crucifixion,
“And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”
Let’s Wield These Gifts with Great Humility
Don’t you think, since the grace gift you received from His freshly nail-scarred hands was won through such humility, you and I ought to receive and wield this gift with great humility?
Not surprisingly, this is precisely the call we find at the beginning of both these texts that speak about spiritual gifts:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3, emphasis added).
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned” (Rom. 12:3, emphasis added).
At this point, you might be tempted to sit on your gift rather than wield it. “It’s safer that way,” you reason, “if pride is such a danger.” But beware of this sort of false humility. As James Montgomery Boice writes in volume four of his excellent commentary on Romans,
“A proper humility in which we learn to think soberly about ourselves does not lead to self-abnegation or inactivity, which honors no one. Instead it leads to the energetic use of every gift and talent God has given, knowing that they have come from him—that no glory is ever due to us—but because they do come from him, they must be used faithfully and wholeheartedly for his glory.”
Give the Gift of Your Experience
I’d love to hear from you. How does knowing who and how He gave us gifts speak to your heart and inform your living? Do you struggle to wield your gifts with humility? What does that look like for you specifically? I’d be honored and grateful to learn from your experience, either in the comments below or in a personal email if you’re more comfy with that.
Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller is a compassionate Christian communicator.