April 22: Judging Gifts
Joshua 9:1–10:15; 2 Corinthians 10:9–18; Psalm 50
Comparing our gifts to those of the person sitting in the next cubicle or pew is dangerous work. Judging ourselves by this standard denigrates or inflates the gifts we’ve been given, leading to either ungratefulness or pride. Because the assessment method is faulty, we will always miss the mark of success—even if we’re successful.
Paul had been called by God to minister to the Gentiles (see Acts 9:15). When others in the Gentile community questioned his authority, Paul boldly defended his calling. He also pointed out the measure by which these leaders judged their gifts: each other. They were undermining Paul’s authority based on his lack of verbal abilities (2 Cor 10:10). Paul was undeterred by this because he knew his calling: “But we will not boast beyond limits, but according to the measure of the assignment that God has assigned to us” (2 Cor 10:13).
If we judge our gifts and calling by comparison, we serve the idol of our own pride. But this doesn’t mean we should take them for granted. Instead, we are called to live for God: “The one who boasts, let him boast in the Lord” (2 Cor 10:17).
Thankfulness is the first step to using our gifts for God’s glory. In Psalm 50, the psalmist acknowledges that everything is from God—a reason to sacrifice our own pride. God says, “The world and its fullness are mine” (Psa 50:12). But He does delight in the sacrifice of a thankful heart: “Offer to God a thank offering, and pay your vows to the Most High” (Psa 50:14–15).
We’ll always come up short if we judge by comparison; there will be someone who is smarter or more gifted than we are. But by thanking God for our gifts (and for others’ gifts), and asking Him for guidance in developing them, we can use them appropriately—not for our own gain, but to further His kingdom.
Are you judging your gifts by comparison? How can you judge your life in the light of God’s purposes?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And when all the Kings that were beyond Jordan, in the mountains and in the valleys, and by all the coasts of the great Sea over against Lebanon (as the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites) heard thereof. They gathered themselves together, to fight against Joshua, and against Israel with one accord. But the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho, and Ai. And therefore they wrought craftily: for they went, and feigned themselves ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and old bottles for wine, both rent and bound up, And old shoes and clouted upon their feet: also the raiment upon them was old, and all their provision of bread was dried, and molded. So they came unto Joshua into the host of Gilgal, and said unto him, and unto the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make a league with us. Then the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, It may be that thou dwellest among us, how then can I make a league with thee? And they said unt oJoshua, We are thy servants. Then Joshua said unto them, Who are ye, and whence come ye? And they answered him, From a very far country thy servants are come for the Name of hte Lord thy God: for we have heard this fame and all that he hath done in Egypt, And all that he hath done to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which were at Ashtaroth. Wherefore our Elders, and all the in habitants of our country spake unto us, saying, Take vittles with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: now therefore make ye a league with us. This out bread we took it hot with us for victuals out of our houses, the day we departed to come unto you: but now behold, it is dead, and it is molded. Also these bottles of wine which we filled, were new, and lo, they be rent, and these our garments and our shoes are old, by reason of the exceeding great journey. And the men accepted their tale concerning their victuals, and counseled not with teh mouth of the Lord. So Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, that he would suffer them to live: also the Princes of the Congregation swore unto them. But at the end of three days, after they had made a league with them, they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they dwelt among them. And the children of Israel took their journey, and came unto their cities the third day, and their cities were Gibeon, and Cephirah, and Beeroth and Kirjath Jearim. And the children of Israel slew them not, because the Princes of the Congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: wherefore all the Congregation murmured against the Princes. Then all the Princes said unto all the Congregation, We have sworn unto all the Congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel :now therfore we may not touch them. But this we will do to them, and let them live, lest the wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we swore unto them. And the Princes said unto them again, Let them live, but they shall hew wood, and draw water unto all the Congregation, as the Princes appoint them. Joshua then called them, and talked with them, and said, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you, when ye dwell among us? Now therefore ye are accursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood, and drawers of water for the house of my God. And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was told thy servants, that the Lord thy God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land,and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land out of your sight, therefore we were exceeding sore afraid for our lives at the presence of you, and have done this thing: And behold now, we are in thine hand: do as it seemeth good and right in thine eyes to do unto us. Even so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not. And Joshua appointed them that same day to be hewers of wood, and drawers of water for the Congregation, and for the altar of the Lord unto this day, in the place which he should choose. Now when Adonai Zedek king of Jersualem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had destroyed it, (for as he had done to Jericho and to the king thereof, so he had done to Ai and to the king thereof) and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them, Then they feared exceedingly: for Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities: for it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty. Wherefore Adoni Zedek king of Jersualem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for they have made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they with all their hosts, and besieged Gibeon, and made war against it. And the men of Gibeon sent unto Josahua, even to the host to Gilgal, saying, Withdraw not thine hand from thy servants: come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the mountains, are gathered together against us. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all thy people of war with him, and all the men of might. And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have given them into thine hand: none of them shall stand against thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly for he went up from Gilgal all the night. And the Lord discomited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth Horon, and smote them to Azekah, and to Makkedah. And as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth Horon, the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them, until Azekah, and they died: they were more that died with the hailstones, than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Then spake Joshua to the Lord, in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stay thou in Gibeon, and thou Moon, in the valley of Aijalon. And the Sun abode, and the moon stood still, until the people avenged themselves upn their enemies: (is not this written in the book of Jasher?) so the Sun abode in the midst of the heaven, and hasted not to go down for a whole day. And there was no day like that before it, nor after it, that the Lord heard hte voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel. After, Joshua returned, and all Israel with him unto the camp to Gilgal. Joshua 9:1–10:15
- This I say, that I may not seem as it were to fear you with letters. For the letters, saith he, are sore and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is of no value. Let such one think this, that such as we are in word by letters, when we are absent, such will we be also in deed, when we are present. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or to compare ourselves to them, which praise themselves: but they understand not that they measure themselves with themselves, and compare themselves with themselves. But we will not rejoice of things, which are not within our measure, but according to the measure of the line, whereof God hath distributed unto us a measure to attain even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we had not attained unto you: for even to you also have we come in preaching the Gospel of Christ. Not boasting of things which are without our measure: that is, of other men’s labors: and we hope, when your faith shall increase, to be magnified by you according to your line abundantly. And to preach the Gospel in those regions which are beyond you: not to rejoice in another man’s line: that is, in the things that are prepared already. But let him that rejoiceth, rejoice in the Lord. For he that praiseth himself, is not allowed, but he whom the Lord praiseth. 2 Corinthians 10:9–18
- The God of gods, even the Lord hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising up of the Sun, unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, which is the perfection of beauty, hath God shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and a mighty tempest shall be moved round about him. He shall call the heaven above, and the earth to judge his people. Gather my Saints together unto me, those that make a covenant with me with sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is Judge himself. Selah. Hear, O my people and I will speak: hear, O Israel, and I will testify unto thee: for I am God, even thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or thy burnt offerings, that have not been continually before me. I will take no bullock out of thine house, nor goats out of thy folds. For all the beasts of the forest are mine, and the beasts on a thousand mountains. I know all the fowls on the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I be hungty, I will not sell thee: for the world is mine and all that thereon is. Will I eat the flesh of bulls? or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God praise, and pay thy vows, unto the most High, And call upon me in the day of trouble: so will I deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. But unto the wicked said God, What has thou to do to declare mine ordinances, that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth, Seeing thou hatest to be reformed, and hast cast my words behind thee? For when thou seest a thief, thou runnest with him, and thou art partaker with the adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and with thy tongue thou forget deceit. Thou sittest, and speakest against thy brother, and slanderest thy mother’s son. These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue: therefore thou thoughtest that I was like thee: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thee. Oh consider this ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none that can deliver you. He that offereth praise, shall glorify me: and to him that disposeth his way aright, will I show the salvation of God. Psalm 50