Gifts or Liabilities?
Do we struggle to see all that God has provided us with, or circumstances that we are in as His gifts to us? Pastor Mark acknowledges this struggle, and also encourages us to move from seeing God's provisions as liabilities to gifts.
God gives good gifts to His children. This is true from the moment we understand the good news and receive salvation by faith as a gift. Whenever we rightly “count our blessings” we come up with a long list. He gives life, and breath, physical provision and spiritual community. He gives family and friends, counsellors and comforters. He gives strength for today and hope for tomorrow.
Psalm 127:3-5a describes children as one of the good gifts God gives:
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them..."
Every one of us was a gift to our parents from the hand of God. If we have children, they are a gift to us. As a church the children in our midst are gifts to all of us. We should reject the modern notion that children are tools, or idols, or a nuisance. They are a gift.
To say they are a gift, however, does not mean we always experience them that way. What do I mean? Derek Kidner, in his commentary on Psalm 127 writes this: "It is not untypical of God’s gifts that first they are liabilities, or at least responsibilities, before they become obvious assets. The greater the promise, the more likely that these sons will be a handful before they are a quiverful."
I won’t name names, but I’ve spoken to some of you older members at GBC who confess to having been a handful when you were youth in the church. Truth be told, I think many of us would be quick to say that we were liabilities before we were anything else. And yet many people—our parents and our friends and older mentors—looked past our current reality to what we could become. Somehow they viewed us as gifts even when we didn’t seem like we were a gift. They saw us as a gift by faith.
I’ve been thinking about this for many reasons. One is that I am preparing for the upcoming Art of Parenting class, which I hope is an encouraging and helpful boost to weary parents in our midst. This is also important as our church strains to keep up with the need for the growing brood that He has entrusted us with. But, mostly, it is the challenges that I feel as a father to “not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
I wonder how many other gifts in our lives might not seem like gifts in the short term. I picture the person who decides to start a small group Bible study with co-workers, but ends up ostracized as a result. Or the job that seems to always ask us to make more bricks with less straw. Perhaps a relationship we form that now asks us to pour out lots of our time in service to someone in need.
The truth is that it takes faith to believe God gives good gifts to His children. Before you can say “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father,” you have to be able to identify things in your life as good and perfect gifts. In your family, in your work, in your church—can you recognise the good gifts that He has given you?
Perhaps that is one of the ministries of the children to all of us. Whatever your stage of life, marriage or parenthood, take a look at the children. See them as a gift. And let them remind you that in Christ, we have all received that which we could never have deserved. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9:15, NIV)
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