For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. You already have more access to God than you can handle. (I Cor. 4:7-8)
What a searching question this passage presents to us: “Who really knows our heart?” I imagine that there are those that we’d say come close to really “knowing” us, but do they really? Do they know the intimate workings of our mind, see the inner challenges of daily decisions that we make, or understand the pull of our self-nature in every opportunity for compromise that presents itself to us? Not likely. There are those who we confide in, but even in the deepest of relationships, we don’t always share ourselves completely, with full transparency in every area of our being.
Paul knew the challenges faced by the believer in understanding and appreciating the unique character qualities and talents bestowed in each created being. He knew well the tendencies of human nature to engage in comparing one’s own talents and abilities to those of another. The tendency of our nature is to zero in on some area of performance in the life of another and then to see if we “measure up” to that performance level – in areas that are spiritual, material, physical, or relational.
The concept of “wanting what the Jones’ have” is not a new concept to the 21st century. It has been a challenge for as long as man has walked this earth. Even in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were challenged by the fact that they felt God was keeping something from them in forbidding them to partake of the two trees in the Garden. They wanted what they did not possess right now and were willing to pursue it, regardless of the cost.
Paul’s challenge goes a little deeper though. He points out with absolute clarity that everything we have and everything we are is completely a gift of God in our lives. We often claim credit for our accomplishments, focusing attention on our ability or talent, all the while completely missing the fact that God was the creator and bestower of that talent in the first place. Without the gifting God places in our inner man, we would fall short of the ability required to accomplish the very thing we so flippantly take credit for.
I am amazed by the frequency with which I am faced with comments from fellow believers that focus on not having any talents or gifts in their lives. They see others leading worship, directing children’s church programs, dynamically preaching the Word of God, or passionately reaching out to the lives of others and compare their seemingly “insignificant” accomplishments to those they see around them. In turn, they conclude that they are not “gifted” or “talented” because they do not accomplish these same things or walk in the same manner that they have observed in others. Paul knows the futility of this type of comparison and warns us against its destructiveness. He is very clear: “You already have all you need.” Could it be that easy? If Paul’s assertion is correct, then it is really a matter of us not realizing that the unique way we have been created, including the uniqueness of our personality, make up something of significant usefulness in the hands of a mighty God.
Tomorrow, we will look at God's desire to use us. Until then, see what God will use you to do today!