“Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift…” Ephesians 4:7(MSG)
Screeches and screams erupted from Little Brother who, only moments earlier, quietly occupied himself with the wooden train. I find him tussling his train out of Big Brother’s firm grip. My sudden presence prompted Big Brother to sentence himself to the time-out chair.
“Why did you take Little Brother’s train?” I asked.
Between sobs and shame he answered me. “Because I want it.”
Ahh, yes. The oldest sin in the Book still rears its ugly head–wanting what’s not ours; what belongs to someone else. We see the joy they’re experiencing with that possession (or talent or person or success) and we want it. Oh, we might possess our own train–something that’s designed just for us–but suddenly we’re no longer satisfied with our own train. No, we want theirs and we want it now (like Veruca Salt in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).
Maybe we don’t want something so tangible as a toy train or a golden goose egg, but don’t we find ourselves coveting things like spiritual gifts, ministries, families, successes, etc.? I’ll admit it, I catch myself now and again. During those times, I need reminding that God has gifted us all differently for different reasons and my success is based upon His perfect timing, not mine (or someone else’s).
After a few cleansing breaths, I kneel down in front of Big Brother until we’re eye-to-eye. I wipe away his tears and explain the art of sharing. “If we want something that someone else has, we need to ask them nicely if we might have a turn.”
“But he won’t give it to me if I ask,” he said.
Big Brother practiced his asking while I helped Little Brother practice giving. Once Big Brother was handed the train, he immediately lost interest. It wasn’t what he really wanted after all.
Just like Big Brother, we forget that it’s okay if our brother or sister (in Christ) possesses something we don’t have because God’s given us our own gift; something that better fits our personality, interests or maturity. However He’s gifted us, we’re to use our own gift alongside one another for one reason–to train up our fellow Christians into maturity in Christ.
“He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13 (MSG)
Practicing my gifts and patience,