Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Seek Ye Earnestly the Best Gifts

The list of gifts of the spirit is repeated in scriptures three times, Moroni 10, I Corinthians 12-14, and D&C 46. This must be an important topic to be repeated so often. I divided the lesson into three parts; identify, use and seek. These three aspects of having spiritual gifts work together and all gifts are continually moving between these three areas.
Everyone has at least one spiritual gift, D&C 46:11 says "For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God." Did you get that? "To every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God." When you receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, you have one gift right there and all others come from that initial gift. During the lesson we had a wonderful lady say that she had never felt she had any particular spiritual gift, that maybe she needed to start looking for hers. This was surprising to me because she is kind and compassionate and gives great insights to my lessons. I know she is the compassionate service leader in RS and does a marvelous job there as well.
How many of us are unaware of what gifts we have, perhaps even using them each day, but not knowing what a gift they are? Each of us needs to read our patriarchal blessing on a regular basis. That is the first place to start. It is probably the only place you are going to see, spelled out as clearly as possible, what you have been given as a gift.
After that we need to pray and think and practice. While we may have the seed of any gift, we need to use it to fully acquire it. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “Spiritual gifts are endless in number and infinite in variety. Those listed in the revealed word are simply illustrations” and Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve said
some “less-conspicuous gifts” include “the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; … the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; … the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost”
Are we ignoring some of our gifts because they are the "less-conspicuous" kind. Does that make them less valuable or less worthy of development?
This takes us to the second aspect of having a spiritual gift, using them, and using them properly. D&C 46:8-9 describes the proper frame of mind for using spiritual gifts:
8 Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;
9 For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts.
Perhaps we think we only have minor gifts, and wish we had "better" ones? D&C 88:33 is good to ponder:
For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.
We also referred to the law of consecration. Just as we can consecrate all of our material possessions to the Lord, because they came from him in the first place, so we need to consecrate our gifts and talents to the service of the Lord, because they were bestowed upon us by a loving Heavenly Father. I know how pride can affect how we use our gifts because I struggle with it as I teach my lessons. I know I have been given a gift to teach well. I can convey what I want to say and feel confident while I am in front of the class. Each week I teach I pray and try very hard to not let those feelings make me teach to show everyone else how good I am at it. It is something I worry about because I will not be able to teach by the spirit if I am doing it for myself. If I don't teach by the spirit I may as well not be there at all because no one will learn or be strengthened by my words.
Then we have those times when we feel we have no gifts, and everything is going wrong, there is hope for moments like that:
President George Q. Cannon taught: “If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the Gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them” (Millennial Star, 23 Apr. 1894, 260).
This is hard advice. If you don't have a talent you think you need, get down on your knees and ask for it, and get in tune with the spirit enough to either obtain this gift, or know what you should do instead. I fall into that ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ trap all the time. We (I especially) need to gain enough faith that we can become strong where we are weak. All the spiritual progress we make is through the grace of God. The testimony of Jesus is a gift, faith is a gift. When we say, "I believe. Help thou my unbelief" we are asking for the gifts that will bring us closer to him.
The last few verses of D&C 46 show us how to ask for these gifts. I'm going to paraphrase the instructions. We need to remember what they are for, not for prideful reasons; we need to ask in the spirit, which I take to mean being prompted by the spirit or knowing it is the right thing to ask for; in the name of Christ, through prayer; thanking God for the gifts we have received; and be worthy.
Again we have the promises of God that this is how we receive gifts. We all need these gifts. We cannot function without the support of our benevolent Heavenly Father. Our very existence is a gift. He will bless us, he longs to bless us, we just have to be aware of this and he will help us.

1 comment:

jendoop said...

Amazing lesson! thank you.

This made me think about service, especially in the church and how I wouldn't have developed my gifts if not for the opportunities I have had. I'm afraid more are coming- the stake president came to our branch on Sunday and asked me to bear my testimony. He's the type of man who does everything for a reason. I'm afraid he was checking on my spiritual and physical well-being to see if DH and I are prepared for more "opportunities".