This morning during our pre-service prayer time, one of the leaders brought a word about gifts. He read out of I Kings 9. Let’s set the scene.
King Solomon, when he had peace on every side (I Kings 5:4), had it in his heart to build a house for the Lord. He propositioned King Hiram for help. King Hiram of Tyre, when he heard his good friend David’s son was now king, graciously supplied building materials and men for Solomon’s new temple. In exchange, Solomon agreed to provide food for Hiram’s household. Hiram sent builders and cedar and cypress trees. Between the donated materials from Hiram, gold and silver and precious stones David gathered before he died, and Solomon’s wisdom, the temple was built, splendid and majestic. There has never been another one like it.
The labor of designing and building two houses – King Solomon’s palace and the Temple – took 20 years. To thank King Hiram for all his good will and bounteous generosity, Solomon gave Hiram 20 cities, perhaps one for every year Hiram labored alongside him. The twenty cities were in the land of Galilee. Hiram himself came out and surveyed the cities Solomon gave him. He was not pleased. He said, “What are these cities worth which you have given me, my brother?” (I Kings 9:13). He called them cabul, which means unproductive, worthless. And, to show that it was okay and Hiram wasn’t insulted despite the poor quality of the gift in his eyes, he sent Solomon 120 talents of gold. That’s about 9000 pounds, according to Wikipedia. Now that’s a nice gift! No question there.
What the leader was trying to say is that sometimes we have gifts God has given us, or talents in the sense of skills and abilities, and we don’t see their value. We want what someone else has. We overlook their potential as raw material. We might even compare them to someone else’s finished product. But we shouldn’t do that. We need to look soberly at ourselves and yet celebrate what we do have – abilities, skills, friendships, family, etc.
II Chronicles 8 opens with Solomon taking back the cities Hiram refused. He rebuilt and fortified them and made it habitable for his people. He didn’t see them as worthless or cabul. He realized those cities’ potential and capitalized on them, using his prodigious wisdom and wealth.
The other thing I thought about was our children. They come to us as babies, the ultimate in limitless potential. They’re not complete tabula rasas, as philosophers would have us believe. But their future is unknown to us. We work with their emerging abilities and try to curb their negative qualities. We put the time in to shape and guide, knowing that the outcome is not entirely up to us. We can look at them as burdens or as amazing blessings just waiting to discovered.
I know for years I didn’t pay much attention to certain skills I had. I kinda neglected them and let them lie. I could not see their true value, like being able to organize. Now, sometimes there are seasons to put things down, and you must have discernment about that. But other times, we need to resurrect the gifts and use them to bring money to ourselves and to serve others.
Now I’m on the lookout. What untapped gifts or abilities am I sitting on? How can I help my kids and husband reach their potential? What about you? What have you looked down on that is a great, unrecognized gift?