This is a brief message from Advance College Conference in Raleigh, NC. You can read the manuscript below:
I want to speak to you very briefly about using our gifts for the glory of Jesus.
Have you ever heard kids ask questions? They have an amazing curiosity that seems to have no end. That magical question “why” can go on for hours and hours. I have friends who’s kids are in this stage right now. Well it seems that there’s a little child in my soul that likes to ask why, but it’s not about abstract questions, it’s about everyday things.
I’m not very easily motivated. There are some people who are naturally driven, and the fact that something needs to get done is enough motivation for them. My wife is one of those people; I am not.
In order for me to get anything done, I need the sense that I’m doing something grand. “But if I take this trash out, will the trash man get saved?” I’m a big picture guy, and I’m rarely drawn to details or tedious tasks. Unfortunately, details and tedious tasks are the majority of real life. This is probably why I struggled so much in high school, even after I became a Christian. My math classes seemed useless and homework felt like a waste of my time.
I know I’m not the only one that can finds it difficult to be motivated sometimes. We all have those weeks where it feels like a never-ending cycle of blah. We sometimes only want to be motivated by big things, but everything is big because everything is part of the big story. The big story that God is telling of himself and his glory.
This is even true of our gifts. We can be tempted to think of our gifts as part of telling the story about ourselves. Like all of life is a little resumé that leads to others being impressed with us. When instead of all of life is a chapter in the big story of God’s glory.
Your gifts are there to help tell the big story.
It’s all about the glory of God
I remember when I began to think of everything this way. I began rapping when I was real young, and all I rapped about was myself. Then I realized that everything was there for the glory of God, not the glory of Trip. Here’s one of the passages that really messed me up.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
I love how clear Paul is that Jesus created EVERYTHING. He doesn’t leave anything out. Things on land and in the heavens, things you can see and things you can’t see, kings and rulers of different kinds, even spiritual forces and authorities. Later in the book (and elsewhere) Paul refers to evil spirits as rulers or authorities. And he’s saying they were created by God and for God. Well if even demons were created by Jesus, for Jesus, then surely our gifts are.
God created everything and he has authority over it.
One of the distinct things that about God’s authority is that it was never handed to him. Kings come up next as an heir. Presidents are elected. Cops are trained and given a badge. God alone is He who’s authority has always existed.
He didn’t take on someone else’s role. He didn’t train for it. He didn’t have to qualify for it. He was never elected, and he’ll never be impeached. Things were created for the sake of being under his authority and being used for his good purposes.
Therefore, God doesn’t intend to get glory just from part of your life, but from all of it.
Your gifts were created by God with a specific purpose, to tell the story of His glory.
When I buy furniture from IKEA, I already know two things: 1, this will probably fall apart next year. And 2, there are going to be lots of pieces and instructions inside.
Wouldn’t it be dumb if I took some of those screws that were meant for a bookshelf and used them for something else? They were given to me for a purpose— from the wood planks to the screws and tools— and they are part of building that shelf. The gifts that every single person possesses are tools in your storytelling toolbox. Specifically given to tell the story of God’s glory. They exist to bring God glory.
Someone may say, what about me though? What about my personal fulfillment? I want to be great. Well the greatest role you can ever play, is a role in the big picture. And God has called all of us to be a part.
But how do we get to a place where we use our gifts for God’s glory? We don’t all do this perfectly.
Fall in love with the glory of God
The problem is we often don’t see the glory of God as something worth fighting for and living for. And it’s because we don’t see God as glorious enough. When you start understanding how grand God is, you’ll start understanding why the Universe revolves around Him and Him alone.
When you read Isaiah 40 you see that attempting to take his glory for yourself or someone else is nothing less than robbery. It belongs to him and he deserves it!
I’d encourage you to read those parts of Scripture where people brag about God. Isaiah 40. Hannah’s prayer in 2 Samuel 2. Moses song after they go through the Red Sea. Psalm 135.
Until you get wrapped up in the glory of God, you won’t care to use your gifts for Him.
Sometimes it’s hard to think about how to use your gifts for the glory of God because it’s not always so obvious. It’s more obvious when you seem to have clear speaking gifts or something that seems spiritual. Or even in the arts. But it’s not as clear when your gifts seem to be administration or hospitality.
Paul gives us some clues elsewhere in Colossians. Listen to what he says in Colossians 3.
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Paul isn’t under the impression that administrative gifts, or gifts to help children, or gifts just to do a mundane job well can’t be used for the glory of Jesus. There are three easy questions we can ask ourselves based on what he says
How should you work? We should “work heartily”
We can be tempted to work lazily. Especially in things where the connection to God’s glory isn’t as clear. But Paul says work heartily or with all of your heart. We should work with sincerity and diligence
2. Who do you work for? You work for Jesus.
Sometimes we can be tempted to work hard, but to do it for the wrong people. To please our boss or our parents or coworkers. While we do often have authorities over us, we are ultimately working to please God not them. We can’t earn his love, but we can trust him and bring him pleasure by honoring him.
3. What will you receive? Your inheritance as you reward
Sometimes we can be tempted to even work hard for Jesus, but to think woe is me, I work for nothing. That’s wrong! You work to please God, you answer to Him. And we will be rewarded for our labors, by God’s grace. His grace motivates us to work heartily and he rewards us for the work he does in us. A paycheck isn’t enough to build your life around, but eternal rewards are.
Scheming for God’s glory
Have you ever noticed how we scheme for the things we’re truly wrapped up in?
I’ve seen this in my own life and been convicted by it. Here’s an example. I happen to be a lover of sneakers. And some times I can get too wrapped up in it. So a few weeks ago we had a chance to go to a great sneaker store while we were in another city and I was all excited about it. And then it looked like it wasn’t going to work out.
I freaked out and was going through a lot of trouble to make it happen. I was making calls and thinking about changing flights, etc. But then I stopped and asked myself, “Why?” Because I was wrapped up in it.
We seem to scheme for the things that we love. We find ways to make things happen. And when you love the glory of God you find ways to use every nook and cranny of your life for it. He’s worth it.
My advice is this: Chase Jesus and fall in love with him until you see everything as an opportunity to tell people about Him.