The wispy page crinkles as it turns, and I smooth it down with a palm. I’ve been slowly trekking through Exodus, a book unexpectedly filled with gifts.
It says it here, right in the black print, that God gifted the builders of the temple:
He says of a man named Bezalel, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” And, not stopping there, He says, “Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you,” Exodus 31: 1-6.
The Lord gave these precious gifts to the builders of the temple. The works of their hands (the weaving, the carving, the building, the setting) all came from His hand. This holy temple had to be glorious—it was the very place where the glory of God came to rest.
This made me wonder.
Because we know that, in later years, the wood and cloth temple gave way to the flesh and bone one. Maybe, like so many years before, the gifts He gives us are still adornments for the temple of God? Beauty fitting this little light of the world?
Maybe these gifts are the ones outlines in Ephesians 4. The prophets and evangelists, pastors and teachers gifted “to prepare God’s people for works of servitude.” Or maybe these gifts looks like the listening ear that hears and loves like Jesus. Or the joy that laughs bright and lifts up others’ souls. Yes, I’ve known others’ gifts to form themselves into hugs and heart-to-hearts. I’ve praised to the gift of the soul-rich singer, flying octaves propelling praise toward Heaven.
This body of Christ is built for sacrifice. So these given gifts must be surrendered, too. After all, could we give to God unless He had first given?
Unlike this world, we know that these gifts are not stepping-stones to our own glory, but places to die to self, surrender all, give back what has been given. Maybe the burden comes when we try to keep all the accolades of our gifts for ourselves. We were never meant for that kind of praise. Who but the Giver deserves the glory? Who but the Giver has the right?
And here’s the blessing of it: servitude allows us to lay the weight of glory upon the One who can carry it.
Because these gifts can break our backs if we aren’t careful. How often has pride denied my given gifts from being used for His glory? The Deceiver twists the reason for our gifts, whispering temptingly that our gift is our purpose, our meaning, our life. But, really, the gift is merely the means for showcasing the Purpose, the Meaning, the Life.
Ah, yes, sin always twists right to wrong. When we see the pride, the selfishness, it’s a chance for the gravity of the situation to weigh us down until we can’t stand but to say, this gift You have given must be given back. You give for Your glory.
So we stop measuring the worth of our gifts against the amount of praise, and, instead, see them as they are—given gifts simply given back. This is hard. I keenly feel the mirror sliding itself in front of me, instead of reflecting the glorious light of God. But, when we find ourselves looking into our own eyes, we pause, pray, and turn that looking glass back around.
And our pedestal becomes our prayer bench. These gifts become calls to service.
So teach us, Lord, what it looks like to surrender these given gifts.