“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” ~ Frederick Buechner
Every now and then I reorganize the drawers of my dresser. This is usually done when something is missing or when I cannot close the drawers because they are overflowing with items. Reorganizing is a nice way to say that I am going on a drawer adventure to see what mysteries lurk in the corners, to bring order to the dresser universe, and apparently…to find forgotten items.
There it was. A beautiful jeweled purse, still filled with the manufacturers obligatory tissue paper, still with its tags, still in the same perfect condition as when I received it as a gift, and still…unused.
It was a great gift, a beautiful gift, and a gift hand picked for me by a loving friend. And unused.
“But to each one of us grace has been given….
I do not create them. There is no performance on my part that will procure it. No dues to pay, no hustle to wrangle, and no employment that could gainfully make it mine.
They can only be given, and I can only receive.
Amazing gifts. How sweet.
…as Christ apportioned it.” Eph 4:7
Yet to each one of us individually, the Lord freely extends Himself.
To each one of us!
And His favorable disposition is according to what He has. Not just a portion of it…but the distribution is proportionate to Christ Himself. Amazing! This gift is as large as the riches of Christ; the scope and expanse of His generosity is the scope and expanse of His riches.
How do we measure such a gift?
Paul measures it against the sacrifice of the one giving it.
“’When He ascended on high,
He led captives in his train
And gave gifts to men.’
What does ‘he ascended’ mean except the he also descended to the lower, earthly region. He who descended is the very one who ascended higher that all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe.”
Scholars debate this passage. Profusely. There is much disagreement over how to interpret this. But there is a point that is not debated. That in order to go up, Christ had to come down. That death precedes resurrection. That do ascend, you must first descend.
The King of Glory cloaked Himself in flesh. He paid a great price in order to conquer death and His victory includes the right to distribute gifts. There was a sacrifice made and a price paid.
What did it cost Him to give me a gift?
And what have I done with it?
Does it still have the tags on it?
Has it been put away forgotten?
He graced some to be apostles.
Some to be prophets.
Some to evangelist.
Some to be pastors.
Some to be teachers.
He graced us so that His people would be prepared for work. That we would serve. So that the Body of Christ would be built up, and we would grow up, and we would stand up in unity and be like Him.
It cost God a mighty price for us to be diverse.
It cost God a mighty price for us to have our gifts.
It cost God a mighty price.
How sad then for us to not use our gift. Or to look at our gift and think we received it in error. Or to fuss about who got what gift and wallow in gift envy.
Or to leave a gift unused. Forgotten. In a corner of the drawers of our soul. Buried and hidden under excess.
What gift packages have we left unopened?
What destinies have been unexplored?
What poverty have we embraced because the jewels were disdained?
What treasure chests have been undiscovered because we didn’t look where X marked the spot?
Or…we could have a party!
We could open our gifts and exclaim “wow” in wonder of the love that picked just the perfect gift for us!
We can dance and sing and celebrate!
We can put our gifts on and use them, knowing they will fit better and better the longer they are worn!
We can bless our friend with our gift as they bless us with theirs. We can rejoice in each others gifts!
Part 14 of “Echoes of Encouragement from Ephesians.” See Also: Stand By Me.