Gifts are good and this post is not to downgrade them or deny the blessing they are. And of course all goodness comes from God; any good any of us can do is from the gift of God in creation or new creation.
But as I read somewhere recently, and I believe it at least has plenty of truth, in the end it’s not the gifts that matter, but our faithfulness, we can say our faithfulness with the gifts we have.
A person who is faithful with far less giftedness will end up accomplishing more than a person with great giftedness who lacks in faithfulness. What God is looking for is faithfulness, not giftedness. God doesn’t need great people; he needs faithful people. Those are the ones he chooses for the work of his kingdom. God delights to take humble gifts and multiply them to his glory; I am thinking now of the five loaves and two small fishes Jesus received from a boy to feed a multitude of thousands.
The irony is that people often don’t find out well what gifts they have from God apart from being faithful. Sampson comes to mind as a possible exception. He judged Israel for twenty years, but it seems to me like the good he did was largely hit and miss. He did some great feats by himself and as a Nazarite dedicated to God. But they were often in spite of himself; he was certainly a man of his times, and those times were not much in the way of faithfulness to God. And yet as long as Sampson remained true to his Nazarite vow, God gave him unusual strength. But when you consider his entire life, while he was a person of faith whom God used signficantly (see Judges and Hebrews 11), there seems to be something lacking which is hard to put one’s finger on. Sampson certainly was not exemplary in his moral life and seemed more or less driven by a personal agenda, though God was using even that. But not without consequences. And one can’t help but think that the story may have taken a twist not imaginable had Sampson lived more faithfully. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so spectaculor, yet it could have been far better.
Faithfulness is with reference to all of God’s will, both his general and specific will. It shouldn’t be about trying to do great things for God as much as it should be simply humbling one’s self before God and being faithful in the little things, as well as in everything else, while at the same time humbly stepping with the audacity of faith into whatever the Lord might be calling us to. That should be the tenor of our lives before God and as lived out in this world in and through Jesus. So that in the end we might here the words from the Master; “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.”