11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
The Old Life and the New
17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self,
Several years ago, I auditioned a high school girl who wanted to study voice with me. A few of her friends were my students and she decided that she wanted to take lessons too. After hearing her sing, I agreed to take her as a student for one month, to see if lessons were helpful and if it was really something she wanted to do. The girl attended weekly lessons, and appeared to practice during the week, but something told me this really wasn’t how she wanted to spend her time.
At the end of the month, the girl, her mother, and I sat down. I asked the young girl what she really loved to do, and she told me her passion was volleyball. I asked her if studying voice and practicing interfered with volleyball and she said that it did. I suggested to the girl and to her mother that she focus on what her passion was and that she continue to sing at school, but spend her spare time practicing volleyball. The girl appeared relieved, but her mother seemed disappointed.
I didn’t see either of them for several years. One day I ran into the mother at the gas station. She greeted me warmly and thanked me for the advice I had given her daughter at that last lesson. Her daughter had gone on to excel in volleyball and was completing her senior year of college on a full volleyball scholarship.
This story came back to me as I was reading today’s passage from Ephesians. Paul tells us about God’s gifts to us and that we all have different, unique, special gifts. Our talents are not the same. Some of us are skilled craftsmen, while others are wonderful bakers, engineers, teachers, pastors . . . the list is nearly endless. And yet sometimes we want to focus on what we cannot do, rather than the skills that we have. While I’m not advocating that we give up trying to improve in certain areas, let’s try to be grateful for our God-given talents, and share them with others. If we look around the disciples at St. John’s, at our Small Groups and Ministry Teams, we can see those talents at work!
Lord Jesus, you have given each of us unique talents and skills. Guide us to share those gifts with others in your beautiful world. In your name we pray, Amen.
Written by Sue Hamilton - Director of Music Ministries - firstname.lastname@example.org