Defective and Gifted
Romans 12:5,6 We, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…
I am a doer and a mover. I do not sit still well. On vacation with my brother-in-law and our boys this week, I am trying to harness my need to go. I find myself hurrying to do the next thing and then when I get there, hurrying to do the thing after that. I have to force myself to slow down, look at the sky, smell the pine, hear the wind and pick the wild raspberries. I must frequently remind myself to rest and enjoy the now.
I commented on this to my brother-in-law, referring to it as a defect. He kindly pointed out that not all my character traits are defects. This particular trait is only a defect when it causes me to push others to comply with my obsession to move. Want to go for another hike? Let’s go swim and then fish and then rock jump and then… He wisely asserted that this particular trait may be aimed in constructive directions.
I imagine if you read my blog, you have rightly guessed that I am obsessed with our defects. I am convinced that many of us have been paralyzed in our Christian walk by nothing other than our own life problems. We pursue money, drugs, sex, toys, affirmation, appearance and self to the distraction of God. So, yes, I write most, not of our assets but of our liabilities.
Today’s passage though, refers to our assets, those personality traits which God bestowed upon us to use for him. We are not all defect. We possess wonderful traits, which when pointed in the right direction, may be used for God’s work.
We are all, Paul said, part of the body of Christ. As Christ physically left the Earth, we now, are his hands and feet. As in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…
Though Paul said I am to crucify the defects of my nature which lead to destruction, I am also to grow and use my gifts for God’s work. With many of my traits, it is the direction in which I aim them that makes the difference. With my need to do and go, I can point it at self, chasing my own will, irritating those around me, or, I can point it at God, using my energy for him. I may, for instance, get up every morning and write a blog. I can take my energy and ambition to God, asking him what He would like me to do with it.
Thus, that trait which translates to defective behavior when aimed at self, becomes a gift when aimed at God. Does this apply to my addiction? It seems a little ridiculous to suggest that I could use drugs for God. The underlying personality trait though, may be another matter. I happen to have a bit of an obsessive personality. When I attach myself to an idea, I tend to jump in with both feet. I do not train for a 5K. I train for a marathon. Likewise, I do not eat one donut. I eat five.
This tendency for radical involvement is, I think, exactly what Jesus was looking for in his disciples. My obsessive/addictive personality can then become an asset as long as I keep it pointed at God and not at self. My character traits, pointed at self, breed disaster. My gifts, pointed at God however, grow life.