My spiritual desire is to use the gifts God has given me to serve his Kingdom and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. My selfish desire is to use the gifts God has given me to make money and receive honor as a great writer. It’s currently popular to talk about balance – finding balance, achieving balance, pursuing balance, craving balance, balancing balance. But in my particular case, balance is the last thing I need.
I do not need to find the exact right tipping point between my spiritual desires and my selfish desires. That balance is the point at which I can have everything – use my gifts to serve the Kingdom and receive personal glory. That balance is the point where I lose sight of the purpose of my gifts. The gift is given to bring honor and glory to God, not to myself. This scenario is played out in the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus.
John the Baptist starts his ministry before Jesus publicly comes on the scene. John is in the Jordan River preaching a baptism of repentance and people are flocking to him to hear his message and be baptized. John has his own disciples and was using his gifts and talents to serve the kingdom of God. Then he baptized Jesus and a month or so later, Jesus gathers a following and also starts baptizing and preaching about the Kingdom.
So what do John’s followers do? What any loyal friend would do – they tell John that someone else has come on the scene and is copying him, stealing his glory. John’s disciples are looking out for the selfish desires of personal acclaim and are worried that everyone will abandon John to follow Jesus. “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan – the one you testified about – look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him” (John 3:26).
John’s disciples knew that Jesus was the Chosen One because John had told them so. When “John saw Jesus coming toward him [he] said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘a man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me'” (John 1:29-30). Even though they knew that Jesus must be greater than John, they were still looking out for John’s earthly interests. Isn’t that what good friends do?! Weeelll … that’s not what good spiritual friends are supposed to do.
Good spiritual friends are supposed to look out for your spiritual best interests more than your earthly interests. John tells his disciples, “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine and it is not complete. He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:29). John the Baptist knew that the gifts he was given were not meant to be used in a balanced way. They were meant to be used wholeheartedly and completely for God. He was meant to invest his gifts fully in the work of God, holding nothing back for his own personal use or glory.
I want to follow the example of John the Baptist – using my gifts only for the kingdom of God and daily asking God how I can do that. Relying on God to give me wisdom and direction and opportunity. Why? Because “the one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth [ …] the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit” (John 3:31,34).
The gifts God has given me are so much more than a means of making money or giving me a creative outlet. The gifts he’s given me are for a purpose and have work to accomplish. How will I use those gifts today for His glory? How will you use your gifts?