Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Gifts from God to us

With the Christmas gift-giving season upon us, I decided to do some scripture study about the gifts that God gives to us.

God gives certain gifts to everyone
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Ephesians 4:7-8)
Certain gifts God gives to everyone is their agency, the light of Christ so that they know good from evil, coverage of their sins by the atonement of Christ (conditional upon repentance), and unconditional resurrection.

My parents actually followed this principle in their Christmas gift-giving; there were always a few presents that they gave to each of us alike.
And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. (Eccl. 3:13)
When you think of how Heavenly Father designed our brains so that our bodies can feel satisfied when we eat and drink enough, that is a great gift. He could have made us so that didn’t happen. Also, the satisfaction we feel when we have done a good job at something—that is a gift from God too.

God gives many different gifts according to our individuality
10 And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church.
11 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.
12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby. (D&C 46:10-12)
Think of all the spiritual gifts that the church is blessed with! Prophecy, visions, healing, faith to be healed, revelation, tongues, interpretation of tongues, knowledge, wisdom, discernment, charity, faith, testimony, belief, working miracles, and so much more!
God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now; (D&C 121:26)
What a fascinating gift the gift of the Holy Ghost is! It is such a special thing the Lord wants us to have.  There are things we learn and things we feel through its influence that are so majestic, so awe-inspiring, so wondrous, that words simply fail to express it adequately, and only someone else who has experienced it too can understand.
Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon is to be ordained according to the gifts and callings of God unto him; and he is to be ordained by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains him. (D&C 20:60)
This made me think about priesthood ordinations in a different way. I hadn’t thought that they were a gift from God. This verse calls it “the gifts and callings of God unto him” which makes me think that gift and calling may be synonymous to the Lord. Even though I don’t hold the priesthood, I have been given callings, and when I think of how they have blessed my life, I see that my callings are gifts to me. My calling as ward organist and choir pianist is a gift of music and my calling as a cub scout den leader is a gift of working with, associating with, and teaching children. I consider all my callings fun gifts and I'm not ashamed to say that I had to grow into the fun-ness thereof.
Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you… (D&C 78:11)
This phrase occurs so many times in the Doctrine and Covenants. Commandments are a gift too, and in so many ways! They are gifts because
  • Learning about them expands and refines our understanding of right and wrong.
  • They represent an opportunity for us to exercise our agency.
  • They present us with a choice to keep them or not.
  • They have blessings attached to them that the Lord wants us to have.
  • Inevitably we learn that we can’t keep the commandments on our own and we need the Lord’s help, so we learn to trust in the Lord.
  • When we follow them we are kept safe from bad things that tend to happen without them.
  • They help us become more like God. Doing them helps us do the things the Lord does.
  • Even if we try to ignore them, inevitably we are brought to a recognition of our need for the atonement of Christ and the necessity of repentance, by which we can discover the joy of our redemption. (And then we still get to keep the commandments!)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (D&C 14:7)

And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God. (D&C 46:26)

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Cor. 9:15)
Eternal life is the final gift God wants to give us. We have our whole lives to look forward to it and the Holy Ghost as a down payment of it. Surely there are spiritual gifts we must seek now that will help us prepare for this great gift.

What should we want?

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; (D&C 46:8, emphasis added)

And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing. (Moroni 10:30, emphasis added)

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)
Even if I were to have the best blog in the world and do all I’m asked to do at church.. Even if I were superwoman (which I’m not) and could move mountains, if I don’t have charity, I’m nothing. Hmm. I think I need to pray more for charity.

Things to remember about the gifts God gives us
Thou shalt be diligent in preserving what thou hast, that thou mayest be a wise steward; for it is the free gift of the Lord thy God, and thou art his steward. (D&C 136:27)

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14)

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. (D&C 88:33)

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
We learn from these scriptures:
  • to be diligent in preserving our gifts from God
  • to not neglect our gifts from God
  • to receive and rejoice in our gifts from God
  • and to give to others liberally like God has given us
What other scriptures do you know of that tell of the gifts that God has given us? Will you share them? What gifts from God are you feeling particularly thankful for right now? What is something you are doing to diligently preserve a gift from God?