Giving Gifts

the gift.jpgI’ve been reading a book this year about the connection between gift rituals and the artistic process. Giving a gift is an act of love that works to create communal bonds. When you receive a gift from someone, you go into debt. It’s not a debt that requires that you give back to the giver (otherwise it ceases to be a gift and it becomes a loan or a market exchange.) The debt falls on you to pass the gift on to someone else, either the same item or the spirit of the gift in the form of something else. Through this cycle of gift giving a community grows bonds that tie it together and make it stronger.
When I was in high school, Mike Jones, who played guitar in my dad’s band, gave me a beautiful Fender Stratocaster guitar. I borrowed the guitar for a summer, and after the summer ended, Mike told me that I could keep the guitar as a gift. I was a little freaked out. As a 15 year old kid, I had never received such a valuable gift from someone outside of my family. Mike explained to me that when he was a young guitar neophyte, a man in his church came up to him after a performance and said, “I want to buy you a new guitar.” Mike told me that because that man had bestowed a gracious gift on him, he was going to pass that grace on to me.Mike is now the senior pastor of Hope Church Presbyterian in Tampa, FL.
As a gifted musician, Mike had received his creative skill as a gift from the Creator. Mike passed the gift on by sharing it in performance. Then this gracious man responded to Mike’s creative gift by giving him a physical gift, a new guitar. Later, Mike passed on the gift to me as a response to my creative gift. A web of gifts was created that was fed by the grace of the Creator. He is the one who gives the skill to the artist. It was His grace working in the heart of the man who gave Mike his guitar.
Here’s an exhortation from 1 Peter 4:10

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

The content of Peter’s letter leading up to this exhortation is spent establishing our gift debt to Christ. Peter starts his letter talking about the gifts of “new birth into a living hope”, “an inheritance that can never perish,” and that we are “shielded by God’s power” (1 Peter 1:3-5). These are blessings from the Lord that we did not earn. These are gifts that we can never repay the same way that you might repay a loan. That is why we respond to God’s grace through passing that grace onto others.
As a musician, I have been given not only the gifts of new life in Christ; I have also been given the skills to play the guitar, to sing, to lead a band, to write a new song, to make instrumental arrangements, and to pastorally direct people through a set of worship songs. These are skills that I have learned and developed as a craft, but at their root, they have all been gifts from the Lord. Now through my service, I pay back a little bit of that gift debt every Sunday to the people who come to our church.
No, I haven’t given way any guitars, so I still have a lot more gift debt to pass on.
Have you been blessed in any way by the Creator through a gracious gift from one of His children?
How has the Creator bestowed creative gifts on you?
How have you responded to you gift debts?

  1. #1 by katiek on August 15, 2008 - 12:43 pm

    You have always been a better reader than I. I’ve gotten through the first chapter, maybe. But yes, I had forgotten about that amazing gift Mike gave you. I have been given some pretty big gifts. Most recently a whole slew of art supplies from one of my neighbors. She’s not a believer, but I feel Gods grace and generousity through her friendship and her life. I kept some of the stuff that I knew I would use, but I turned around and brought most of it to the homeschooling group I teach for. There is no way I could afford (or the group could afford) so many great things. I love that my students have great brushes not just crummy ones that will fall apart in a year.
    Joel and I have also given 3 cars away, one of which we were given. To my knowledge only one is not running. The VW I spied in CCS’ parking lot!! I feel in return we have received good cars at amazing prices.
    It’s amazing how easy it is to give something away when God moves you.

  2. #2 by Liz Meiners on August 16, 2008 - 4:29 am

    Thanks for this reminder, Kirk. Being missionaries God had given us so much through people. I remember once a supporter offered to pay Anna’s school fees at CCS so that she could play on the varsity soccer team. (We had been told she couldn’t receive financial aid if she played on the varsity soccer team and we couldn’t afford the school without that aid.) They said that God had blessed them with riches right then but maybe next year we would be the ones blessed and could give to them. It was a powerful reminder to me that nothing is really ours to keep but God gives so that we can give it away. I want to always be a willing giver but sometimes my sin of desiring security gets in the way and I forget how He has cared for us through the years through people. It’s my turn to care for others. Love, Mom

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