3 Misconceptions We Have About Gifts

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. – I Peter 4:10-11

Someone exerts creative energy and writes a novel, sings a solo, plans a party or creates beautiful cupcakes for the bake sale. People around them exclaim, “She has such a gift!” or “He is such a gifted person!” We appreciate the talent they have because they have done what they were supposed to do with a gift — given it away.

So often we recognize gifts in others and we are the recipients of those gifts, but there is a disconnect when it comes to the gifts we have been given. Sometimes we act like a spoiled child at a birthday party with our gifts. And all the time, we think we are only being humble.

Here are a few of the misconceptions we have about the gifts God has given us:

I don’t have any gifts. Everyone has been to the birthday party of that child who opens his pile of presents then whines, “Is that all there is?” Everyone at the party inwardly rolls their eyes. A few grandmas who lived through the Great Depression would love to add a good lecture and maybe a switch to the pile. The child insults those who gave the gifts. He is telling them all the money and time they spent selecting his gifts were not enough.

Sweet friend, when you demurely shake your head and say you don’t have any gifts, have you considered what you are actually saying? You are telling God, “Is that all there is?” when He has showered you with special abilities meant to share with the world.

My gift isn’t good enough. This is the birthday party where the child opens up the present you deliberated over for an hour in the aisle of Wal-Mart and gives a disappointed sigh. “Oh, I already have that one. I was hoping it was a (insert name of newer and better trend in toys).” The grandmas tighten their lips a bit more, and the parents shrink in embarrassment while you inwardly vow to get him a gift card next time.

As selfish as his behavior is, don’t we do the same at times? Someone thanks us for sharing our gift of organization or listening to them or sharing our art. Many times we shrug off their thanks with an “Oh, that was nothing. I’m not very good at that. I can’t do it like (insert name of someone with a similar gift).” I wonder if we make God sad when we question the gift He gives us and wish for something different.

Sharing my gift is prideful. This idea is a misunderstanding of what a gift is. When you take a gift to a birthday party, you are not intending on taking it home with you. You give the gift to the birthday child and take pleasure in his enjoyment of it. When the child holds up the toy you gave him for others to see, no one compliments the child for receiving such a lovely gift. The one receiving the gift is not worthy of thanks. Praise goes to the giver.

Our role when we are given a gift or an ability is not the role of the child attending the birthday party but the role of the one having the birthday. We have received our gifts directly from God. We are to simply hold them up and show them to the others He brings to the party. We share our gifts in such a way that people turn their attention to God and say, “What an excellent gift you gave!” 

We all love to attend the birthday party of the child who opens each gift and looks it over carefully with a smile then genuinely thanks the person who gave the gift. He may follow up with a thank you note telling us how he is enjoying that gift.

Sometimes we simply fail to recognize the gifts God has given us because we don’t realize they are things meant to be enjoyed. You may love playing your guitar and do it often. It may never occur to you that it is a gift because you just love to do it.

The best way to thank God for what He has given you is to simply enjoy His gifts. If you paint, put yourself into it and love the process. If you bake the best apple pie, purchase the best ingredients and have a blast in the kitchen. If you love to run, be like Eric Liddell who said:  “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

God made you the way you are. He gave you the abilities He wanted you to have. When He sees you enjoying them, He is filled with pleasure. Others around may enjoy your gifts as well. They may thank you for sharing them. You might have been so busy enjoying the gifts yourself that you didn’t realize others were paying attention. That’s okay. After all, gifts are meant to be given away. Just remember, all praise goes to the Giver.



  • Margaret Welwood

    January 3, 2017 at 3:11 pm Reply

    I think we can also believe others–for example, some people with disabilities–don’t have a lot to give. I know a little girl whose speech is delayed, but she has the most amazing empathy. I took her to our church’s Remembrance Day service when she was three years old. She couldn’t have understood the meaning of war and the countless lives lost, but she shrank from the view of the coffins and hung on to me to me when the cadets marched to the front with the flag. She knew it was solemn and sad. She also shows great compassion to her baby sister, and to other babies. Is this not a priceless gift?

    • JenniferLSelf

      January 3, 2017 at 7:05 pm Reply

      Yes, Margaret! I think so often the term “disability” is a misnomer. In fact, those people we see as disabled have abilities beyond what our eyes can see. There are so many layers to it! Thanks for your insightful comment.

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