The prodigal giver
1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 (NRSVA)
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
I once heard God described – rather provocatively – as a promiscuous lover, because he loves apparently indiscriminately, loving all things, without thought of reciprocation. We could also describe him as a prodigal giver. Alternatives for prodigal in the thesaurus are: wasteful, reckless, profligate, extravagant. We might want to resist some of these but in fact there is an element of truth in them. God gives, apparently without thought of what we will do with the gift. God gives and goes on giving. God gives, pressed down, shaken together, and running over (see Luke 6: 37-38). God gives extravagantly, with profligacy, he gives recklessly. Does he give wastefully? All his gifts are given for the common good, but we don’t always use them for the common good. However, that doesn’t stop God giving them to us. That may seem wasteful to some, but God trusts us, and goes on trusting us, even when we prove ourselves to be unworthy of his trust. His gifts are for the benefit of all, not intended to be kept within the four walls of our local fellowship gathering. He gives us gifts that we might draw all people unto him. We cannot equal God’s generosity, but can we at least be more prodigal with his gifts?
we thank you for all your gifts to us.
The gift of this world in all its beauty,
its miraculous abundance,
its astonishing variety
and its capacity to provide for us all that we need.
We thank you for the spiritual gifts you entrust to us,
gifts to build up the church, your kingdom, the world.
Forgive us when we fail to use your gifts well.
Forgive us when our greed persuades us to hug them close,
keeping them for ourselves,
rather than sharing for the benefit of all.
Help us to trust in your spiritual gifts,
to spread the good news of your kingdom
and bring others into the compass of your love, Amen.