I was about to write that we live in an age that values people who have great natural gifts. But two thoughts stopped me. First, I thought of all the people who hold celebrity status for no other reason than that they have done something foolish or outrageous. Second, I realized that such a view is not peculiar to our age; it is a characteristic of human nature to value natural things. And without doubt, natural gifts are valuable. It might be appropriate to suggest that most of what has been accomplished in this world has been the offspring of two parents: natural giftedness and hard work (and persistence). The truth is that since God is the One who bestows those gifts they should be acknowledged and appreciated, and He should be thanked for them. But have you considered how little value Scripture places upon natural talents?
Read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Abel was not commended for being a better shepherd than his brother Cain was a farmer. Enoch was not translated because he was a genius, a fantastic inventor, an exceptional artisan, or a fabulous artist. Abraham was not chosen because of his navigational skills, his ability to make and retain wealth, his ability to organize and run a massive household, or his military skills. Joseph was not commended for his administrative and governmental prowess. Moses was not lauded for his leadership ability. Joshua’s skill as a soldier was not his defining attribute. Even David, surely a genius in any meaningful sense of the word, received few plaudits for his many gifts. The exceptional administrative ability of Daniel receives scarce comment. The same might be said of Ezra, Josiah, and Hezekiah. And what of the twelve apostles? They are far better known for their rudeness, inexperience, lack of education and polish than for great natural gifts. In fact, who in Scripture besides Solomon, an abject failure, is well-known primarily for his natural gifts?
In reality, it is not the quantity or quality of natural gifts that qualifies someone for service: it is the character of his spirit. Even so godly a man as the prophet Samuel became confused about what was valuable in the choosing of a king. So the Lord had to remind him that “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (I Sam. 16:7). Natural abilities are a dime a dozen. God seems almost to dole them out by the bucketful. Even the seemingly most ordinary person possesses some treasure of a gift. But God is not looking for such individuals to use in His service. He is looking for people who will respond to His gift of salvation by loving Him, loving His Word, praying faithfully, trusting in Him. In short, those who are yielded to Him.
Everywhere we turn, needs go begging. There is never any lack of difficulties to overcome, issues to be dealt with, gaps to fill, and burdens to carry. Yet it seems that we sometimes have no opportunity to serve. The problem usually lies, not with the absence of opportunity nor with our lack of natural ability, but with our hearts. God’s prerequisite must be met, and He is in the business of examining hearts. Cain may have been a better farmer than Abel. Aaron may have been a better communicator than Moses. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter—at least not to God. He looks on the heart.
Are you languishing? What does your heart look like? Have opportunities to serve shriveled up? What does your heart look like? Do you encounter roadblocks everywhere you turn? What does your heart look like? God will use every man, woman, boy, and girl whose heart truly belongs to Him.
“My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word” (Isa. 66:2).
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