"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in various forms."
-- 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
When I was a young girl we had big Christmas celebrations. My parents would invite many family members and friends to join us.
Gifts were bought for all who would be attending. Occasionally someone was unable to make it; their gift was left sitting unopened under the tree.
For days after Christmas I would lay beneath that tree and look at those beautifully wrapped packages and wonder what was in them.
Sometimes I'd pick them up and hold them. I'd shake them, or see if they were light or heavy, just trying to figure out what was inside. I was even tempted to take a peek. I thought the fun of gifts was seeing them unwrapped.
Just as those gifts sat unopened under our tree, some people never bother to unwrap or use their gifts and talents. They just sit there -- never possessed, used or enjoyed.
We all need the enjoyment of seeing those gifts unwrapped, for ourselves as well as others. The Lord blesses each of us with unique gifts and talents that should be used to honor him.
In Exodus 35, God called the Israelites to come and use their gifts to help build the temple. It says, "Both men and women came, all who were willing-hearted."
Recognizing our gifts helps us to use them properly. It may be your voice, your hands, or your ability to listen. I know a woman who loves to bake. She uses her gift to give pies to newcomers at her church.
Because another friend knows that she doesn't like to cook, she stays away from volunteering to make a meal, but uses her talent of hospitality to open her home for a Bible study.
Not only are our vocations in life gifts, but our positions are, too. Our ability to be a good spouse, parent, or friend are all important gifts. The gift of leadership helps us lead our family, or moves us into management positions.
Many people think going to work is just a routine or means of making money, they never realize in essence they are using gifts.
Our Christmas tree represents Christ. We sit under his authority, just as those presents sat underneath our tree. We need to sit beneath him and open our gifts. As you gaze at the presents under your tree, take a look at your life and examine what gifts you have left unopened.
•Annettee Budzban is a Christian author, speaker, life coach and nurse. Her inspirational CD can be purchased by sending $12 to P.O. Box 532 Grayslake, IL 60030. She can be contacted at Annetteebudzban@aol.com