What are you good at? It’s ok, you can admit it. It doesn’t mean you’re bragging or sound arrogant. So what is it? Maybe you are a hard worker. Perhaps you can play an instrument. Or maybe you make the best lasagna? We are all good at something. So if your answer is “nothing” or “I don’t know,” then ask someone who’s close to you. No one will know better what you are good at than the ones you spend the most time with. And if, after consulting them, you are still struggling to come up with something then maybe you should work on your self-esteem and find some new friends. Now I don’t mean to sound cheeky, it’s just that the Bible tells us we are created and God’s image. And of course God is good at lots of things so I’m sure you are good at something too.
And if you are good at something it’s probably safe to say that it comes easily to you. This may not have been the case at first but now that you have the hang of it, it has become as natural as breathing. You don’t even really need to think about it. But here’s the thing; when something comes easily to us, it’s hard for us to relate to someone who’s not good at it. If you are good at picking out the perfect outfit for any occasion, it can be tempting to roll your eyes at the person with the brown belt and black shoes. If you can bench press two hundred pounds, you might be inclined to call someone who can’t bench fifty a wimp. Do you find it bewildering that your coworker is always late? Does your blood boil when you read facebook posts or emails that are full of spelling and grammar mistakes?
Let me propose that what you are good at is a God-given gift. Whether it’s something as profound as always knowing a bible verse for a particular situation or as trivial as having a knack for picking out the perfect paint color to complete a room, you are good at something and you are created by a God who loves you and wants the best for you. And what we must try to do, no - strive to do, is avoid the temptation to use our strengths as a weapon against other people.
I have a theory that the enemy (a.k.a. the devil) will take whatever our greatest (and God-given) strengths are and try to turn them into our weaknesses. We’ve heard it said that something is “a blessing and a curse” that it cannot be both at the same time. In actuality I would argue that it is a blessing or a curse. It’s all a matter of how we use it. And the blessing or curse, as we are referring to them, isn’t necessarily on us. More often it’s on those around us. For example, I know many people with an amazing charm and charisma. And some of them utilize this gift for the benefit (i.e. to bless) others by inspiring, connecting, and bringing people together. Meanwhile, I know just as many who use their social skills to manipulate, persuade, and fulfill their own self-interests, essentially “cursing” others with their gift.
So I mentioned earlier that the enemy will turn our strength into our weakness. This might leave you wondering how or why would he do that? Well, there’s a lot of theology there, more than can be unpacked in a blog post. But for now, let’s focus on one verse, Ephesians 6:12. It tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood (in other words; people) but against the spiritual forces of evil on earth and in Heaven. Now if you have been coming to Vineyard Westside for a while then you’ve probably heard this verse a time or two. We bring it up all the time because we need to be reminded of this all the time. In fact I personally needed such a constant reminder that I had it tattooed on my arm so that a day never goes by that I am not reminded of what our real battle is.
And believe me when I say that while we may need reminding, the devil does not. He is well aware and is doing everything he can to fight back. And one of his most effective tactics is to trick us into using our greatest strengths to fight against flesh and blood rather than against him. For example; if God blessed you with high intelligence, the devil may try to trick you into making everyone around you feel stupid while simultaneously convincing you that you are somehow better than everyone else.
And if you are a Christian this does not make you immune to this type of attack. In fact I would argue that you are more susceptible to it. After all, how many non-believers feel like Christians think we’re better than everyone else? And how many of them are driven away from the Church; not by God but by Christians? The hypocritical Christian is universally recognized by non-believers which begs the question; are the atheists just blind? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the Christians. Maybe it’s us that can’t see. Maybe we can’t see the hurt that people feel, the judgement, the condemnation. Maybe we don’t see the invisible hand slapping others in the face when they hear a sentence that starts out with “the Bible says…” Maybe we don’t feel the helplessness and hopelessness of forever being told how wrong we are. We may never know the guilt triggered by the sight of a WWJD bracelet. But maybe if we did, maybe if we felt the shame, the guilt, the pain, maybe we would turn away too. Maybe we shouldn’t blame them. Maybe we can’t blame them. Maybe if we start to get it, start to understand where they come from, why they believe what they believe, then maybe we can start to connect with them. To build a bridge instead of a wall. Maybe we can demonstrate God’s love instead of His judgement. Our God is a God of Justice and of Mercy. They’ve seen the Justice, now maybe they can experience the Mercy.
Now listen, I didn’t write this to guilt-trip anyone. Guilt is also of the enemy. He uses guilt to disempower revelation. God doesn’t reveal things to you to guilt you but to empower you. It hurts to have a blind spot revealed but when we know about it we can do something about it. Guilt prevents us from doing that. So if you feel that God is revealing something to you right now, whether good or bad, then thank Him for it. He is revealing it, not to scold or punish, but so you can be set free.