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Tuesday, December 8, 2015
The Perfect Gift - Our Daily Bread Ministries daily devotional 8 December Tuesday
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts.
Every year our local botanical garden hosts a celebration of Christmas around the world. My favorite display is a French nativity. Instead of the traditional scene showing shepherds and wise men with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh gathered around the manger, it shows French villagers bringing their gifts to baby Jesus. They bring bread, wine, cheese, flowers, and other items that God has given them the ability to produce. This reminds me of the Old Testament command to bring the firstfruits of our labor to the house of the Lord (Ex. 23:16-19). This depiction of the nativity illustrates that everything we have comes from God, so the only thing we have to give is something that God has given us.
When Paul instructed the Romans to present themselves as a living sacrifice, he was telling them to give back to God what God had given them—their own selves (Rom. 12:1). This includes the gifts He gave them, even their ability to earn a living. We know that God gives people special abilities. Some, like David, were skilled in music (1 Sam. 16:18). Some, like Bezalel and Oholiab, were skilled in artistic works (Ex. 35:30-35). Others have skill in writing, teaching, gardening, and many other things.
When we give back to God what He has first given to us, we give Him the perfect gift—ourselves.
There are five listings of spiritual gifts in the New Testament: Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 12:28-30; Ephesians 4:11; and 1 Peter 4:11. In each of these lists the emphasis is not on the different types of gifts but on their diversity and how they are to be used in a way that promotes love and unity in the church (1 Cor. 12:12–13:13). Gifts are to be used to build up the spiritual maturity of the believers (Eph. 4:12-16) and to bring glory to the Lord (1 Peter 4:9-11). In Romans 12 Paul encourages believers to use their gifts in humility (v. 3), in unity (vv. 4-5), and with sincere love and respect (vv. 9-10).