When I was in college, we had a classmate who was very gifted.
Not only was he a good student with good grades,
but he was also what most people would consider handsome.
He always drove new vehicles and wore nice clothing.
But unfortunately, he had an attitude of superiority about him that was quite off-putting after a while and therefore, was not very popular.
Every positive thing about him was a gift he did not earn.
And every negative thing about him stemmed from his inability to recognize that.
I felt sorry for him because, despite his giftedness.,
he was lonely and constantly trying to prove his worth,
if he were owed that by virtue of his short life.
Consequently, his giftedness was squandered those four years
and he returned to his father's ranch with only a degree to show for his time away.
Instead of leveraging his giftedness to improve his situation with others and start a career,
he unwittingly used it to push others away from himself
by his unwanted arrogance and conceit.
Perhaps you know someone like this?
They could have the world by the tail if only they would apply themselves.
They could have the greatest marriage and family life possible if they could only appreciate it.
They could really advance their career if only they would listen to the advice there of their bosses and peers.
There is an old saying, “never look a gift horse in the mouth.”
it comes from the practice of looking at a horses teeth when buying one to determine its approximate age, and, therefore, it's worth.
Therefore, if gifted with a horse,
looking in its mouth would be like checking for price tags on a Christmas present
or looking up an item online so that you might know how expensive the gift
Regardless of the age, a horse is not an insignificant gift in most cases as they are such magnificent creatures
So too are the gifts of God always of value and should never be looked down upon or squandered.
On this second Sunday after the Epiphany, we hear that the good things in life are gifts from God.
Whether that is the good reputation and standing enjoyed by Israel in the book of Isaiah,
the free flowing wine at the wedding in Cana,
or the various spiritual gifts given to God's people by his Holy Spirit,
each and every one of them has its origin in God, and not from within us.
Moreover, these gifts are not consumables like the Christmas cookies you exchanged last month,
but, instead, are intended by God to be used by us to extend his mission to the world.
That is, you and I are given these various gifts from God for his purpose.
And that purpose is centered upon this world and the people in it.
we are gifted to be givers.
We have been blessed to be a blessing.
So, let's take a moment to talk about these gifts.
We begin with life itself.
from conception, we are a creature of God's design.
And one for whom Christ died for in order to forgive your sins.
Next, we have the gift of faith
which holds onto and trusts the promise of Jesus to forgive and to save.
And which moves us to live our lives according to his will and not our own.
Then, we have the gift of baptism
which provides a tangible sign for all of those promises,
sealed in the name of the triune God,
and demonstrated by physical washing with actual water.
And lastly the gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out on his church.
We see a considerable number of them listed in first Corinthians chapter 12.
But I think one of the key verses is verse seven.
“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
in other words those spiritual gifts are made tangible, that is, manifested.
But they are to benefit everyone. That is, the common good.
You are part of that gifted church
and these gifts have been manifested in you and me in many and various ways.
And we've been given them for the common good.
That is, shared good,
for the good of all
or for the type of things everyone needs.
Yes, we come to church to receive the gifts of God,
but once they've been given us, we become the church
and we go from being receivers of gifts to being givers of God's gracious gifts.
As we begin a new year together it would be good if we could resolve to work together to extend these gifts to the best of our ability.
to make sure we extend grace to others,
even as we have received grace upon grace
as we hear our sins are forgiven and as we receive the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.
To create a House of worship where all are welcome
even as God has welcomed us in the midst of our brokenness
and prepared a safe haven where we can be healed as well as nurtured.
To share the saving gospel of Jesus Christ which converts unbelievers to followers of Jesus,
even as we were brought from the shadows of our own sin and death
as we were baptized in the name of God
and taught his word and followed his commandments.
And finally, we share the gifts of God with others when we invite them to join us in service,
even as Christ humbled himself to serve all of humanity
as he became one of us and suffered and died on a cross in our place,
so that we would be freed from the slavery of sin
and released to serve our loving God in glory for eternity.
It is my prayer that each of us may never take these gifts for granted,
nor that we would see them as deserved or owed to us,
but that we may daily receive them with thanks to God.
And, intern, use them in the manner by which he gave them.
That is, to create a change in our hearts and lives
so that the world might see his love and compassion for all
as displayed in his son Jesus Christ.
In Jesus name we pray it. Amen.