When Jeremiah was put under house arrest, he realized he needed a messenger. His work was finished, and it was time to read the scroll to the people. He couldn’t do it because he was imprisoned in his own house. Someone else would have to go for him. So Jeremiah did the obvious thing: He sent Baruch. “You can do it. I cannot go to the Lord’s temple, but you can,” I can hear him saying encouragingly to the scribe. “So you go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated” (Jer. 36:6).
Jeremiah had great confidence in his friend. He had spent hours of prayer with him, and he knew his heart. Jeremiah also knew that “heart” was more important than “gift.” It would be Baruch’s heart for the Lord and for the people that would give him the courage to go to the temple and work outside of his gifting. Baruch could have offered all sorts of excuses. Above all, he could have objected, “It’s not my gift.” But he didn’t. He set off and just “did it.”
Have you ever used the excuse that you can’t do something that needs doing because it’s not your gift? Have you had some really good teaching on spiritual gifts and been quite excited that you have actually discovered yours? The only danger in that is you might abdicate your responsibilities if you don’t believe you are gifted for them! Maybe you have been exercising your gifts happily within the church or in the community. Then a need has arisen, and someone has asked you to volunteer to meet it. Have you ever said, “Sorry [you are really highly relieved], but it’s not my gift?” Even if it is not your gift, it may still be your responsibility!
As a pastor’s wife I have needed to listen to people’s troubles and try to say something to help them. Some would call that counseling. I do not count this as one of my gifts. I do it because there are not enough ears to listen to the hurts out there. At the end of my teaching meetings people want to talk and ask questions. Often these talks turn into “counseling sessions.” I find myself working outside of my gifting a lot of the time. At times like these I try to have a ministry of silence (listening) and a ministry of tears. Anyone can listen, and anyone can cry! That is, anyone who has asked God to break his or her heart with the things that break the heart of God. Only after I have tried to exercise a ministry of silence and tears do I use words. Try it. It is amazing the helpful thoughts that come to you in silence. A talker like me needs to exercise self-control in order to be a good listener, but God is delighted to help you with this if you ask Him to!
Baruch was willing to work outside of his gifting when it was necessary. How about you—are you willing to do the same? Pray about it.
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