I know, it’s part of the American Dream. Every school child is told “You can be anything you want to be.” I understand the motive behind telling kids this: You want to encourage them to stretch themselves and to dream big. The stereotypical “Rags to Riches” story has at least a grain of truth in it. But we need to be honest. The motivation might be correct, but it’s not really true. I might've grown up wanting to be a professional basketball player. There are only two little problems with this—I’m 5’4” and have absolutely no innate talent. I might really really really really want to play professional basketball, but it’s not going to happen.
That’s because we all have different talents that we’re born with. Mozart was composing at the age of five. I can play my guitar and my MP3 player. No matter what I do, I’m never going to be as good as Mozart. Hard work plays a huge part in it, and you have to strive to develop your natural talents in order for them to reach their full potential, but you must have something to work with.
Among Christians we talk a lot about “spiritual gifts.” We’re going to discuss them at a later time, but they’re very different from today’s topic. Spiritual gifts seem to come at the point of salvation, and they’re not a talent you’re born with.
But if we’re born with certain talents, then what’s the source of these? Well, there’s good reason to believe they come directly from the Holy Spirit, at least some of the time. We do know that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” When he says every good gift, that would indicate to me that it includes any talents.
But today’s passage is a bit more specific than that. God was instructing Moses in the construction of the Tabernacle. Moses had a lot of gifts, both natural and supernatural, but artistic craftsmanship was not one of them. And this was needed. The tabernacle had to be built in order for man and God to meet on a regular basis, and the Holy Spirit had provided someone to fill the gap.
This is important. If you’re ever playing Bible trivia, and the question is “Who’s the first person that Scripture says was gifted by the Holy Spirit?” this guy is the answer. Yes, the spiritual gifts are vital: We have to have people with the gift of teaching, the gift of administration, the gift of evangelism, the gift of mercy, etc. But I can’t count how many times we’ve had a practical need in our church, and someone stepped forward who happens to have skills in that area. I have the gift of teaching, but that doesn’t do me a lot of good when my car won’t start. But there are people in our church who have talents and knowledge in that area.
Specifically this passage is referring to someone with artistic ability. It’s easy to see how someone is gifted if they can stand in front of hundreds of people and present a God-given sermon. But musical ability is a gift of the Spirit as well. If someone designs a church building for the glory of God, he’s following in the footsteps of Bezalel.
So what does this mean to us? I thoroughly believe that every Christian has a spiritual gift. No one’s left out of this honor and responsibility. But he’s also gifted you with innate talents and skills. Certainly you had to hone those talents, but the Spirit gave you the raw material to work with. Are you using them for the church? Or are you hiding your talent “in the ground”? Yes, that parable is actually where we get the word “talent” from. Do you remember the Lord’s reaction to the servant who hid his talent away and didn’t use it for the Master’s profit? Just a word to the wise.
Father God, you’ve given me talents, skills, and abilities. They're not there primarily for my sake, but for yours and for your church. How can I channel them into advancing your Kingdom?