WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 3, 2021
TOPIC: DON’T MISUSE YOUR GIFTS
BY T. O. BANSO
“God has given each of you special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings” (1 Peter 4:10 The Living Bible).
In Matthew 4:1-11, Satan tempted Jesus three times, and three times he failed. There are many things one can learn from this incident. However, I want to focus on the character of Jesus in refusing to misuse His power.
The first two temptations by Satan focused on the use of the power that Jesus had. He asked Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God by commanding stones to become bread. Jesus had the power to do that, especially because He was hungry.
Later, at a wedding feast, He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). But Jesus refused to turn stones into bread. He said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4 New King James Version).
In the second temptation, Satan wanted Jesus to prove that He was the Son of God by throwing Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. Jesus didn’t yield to such misuse of power. He said again, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God’” (verse 7).
Even the third temptation had to do with self-interest, and Jesus refused to succumb to Satan’s temptation. He wasn’t on earth on any ego trip to possess all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, using Satan’s strategy, but to do the will of God.
There is a lesson for children of God not to misuse their gifts or power. That you have power (spiritual or natural) to do something or you have a certain gift (spiritual or natural) doesn’t mean you must use it. Jesus could cause stones to become bread, and He could jump from the top of the temple without being hurt. But of what use would these miracles be? What would be the motive of such miracles? – To prove a point or to impress who?
Jesus didn’t need to prove any point, as Satan wanted Him to do. He didn’t need to prove to anyone that He was the Son of God. You must not use the gift or power that God has given you to prove any point. God’s gift or power He has given to humans is not to impress anyone. It is not for personal aggrandizement or dishonest gain.
Jesus refused to use His power recklessly for personal benefit. Every anointed person is sent to be a blessing to others. “And he gave some (to be) apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12 American Standard Version).
Each time Jesus used His power for miracles, He was always moved by compassion to help people, not because He was seeking fame. For example, the feeding of five thousand people and four thousand people (Matthew 14:14-21; 15:32-38). He did both miracles out of compassion. However, in John 4:8, His disciples had to go and buy food in the village, obviously for them to eat, not for the usual multitudes. Jesus didn’t use His power to perform a miracle of food supply.
Compare how Jesus handled His gift or power to how Samson used his. Samson used the power God gave him for his personal advantage. Because he knew God had given him this special power, which was not available to others, he kept on getting himself into trouble and using this power on each occasion to bail himself out. This could not have been the purpose for which God endowed him with his supernatural strength.
In Judges 14:12-14, one could ask: what was the purpose of the riddle that Samson gave at his seven-day wedding feast at his in-laws’ house? Suppose it was a common practice at such an occasion in his day, Samson should have known he was different from others. He was a Nazirite with a definite assignment from God.
Hear his riddle: “Then Samson said to them, ‘Let me pose a riddle to you. If you can correctly solve and explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing. But if you cannot explain it to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.’ And they said to him, ‘Pose your riddle, that we may hear it.’ So he said to them: Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet” (Judges 14:12-14a New King James Version).
It was a riddle that only Samson knew its answer; nobody would know the answer except he told the person because it had to do with his personal experience. Obviously, he never imagined that the thirty companions brought by his in-laws to be with him would be able to solve the riddle. Therefore, if they couldn’t solve the riddle within the seven days of the feast, what would have been the benefit of the thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing he expected them to give him?
What did he want to use them for? Of what relevance was that to the assignment God had given him? What was the need for that riddle? I see it as proof of his spiritual degeneration. Before then and after, he violated the law of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:1-21). Sin makes someone act foolishly.
The Philistines saw the riddle as a means of impoverishing them. Judges 14:15 says, “On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, ‘Get the answer to the riddle from your husband, or we will burn down your father’s house with you in it. Did you invite us to this party just to make us poor?’” (New Living Translation). The New King James Version and some translations said the Philistines said this on the seventh day.
After they had coerced Samson’s fiancée to entice Samson to find out the answer to the riddle and she had done so and told them, they came to tell him the answer. “So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down: ‘What is sweeter than honey? And what is stronger than a lion?’ And he said to them: ‘If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle!’” (Judges 14:18 New King James Version). I know that some Bible scholars have given different meanings to Samson’s riddle in addition to the explanation the Philistines gave. I will not go into that.
See how Samson used his God-given power for personal benefit to get himself out of the situation his riddle had put him: Verse 19 says, “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes of clothing to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father’s house” (New King James Version).
That Samson found his way out of the situation didn’t mean that God approved of the misuse of his supernatural strength. When Moses, contrary to God’s instruction, struck the rock twice to give the Israelites water, instead of speaking to it, water still came out. Nevertheless, God didn’t allow Moses and Aaron to enter the Promised Land because they didn’t hallow Him in the eyes of the Israelites (Numbers 20:7-13).
You’ll see Samson’s misuse of his supernatural strength again in Judges 16:1-3. God never sent him to go in to a harlot, but when he was in trouble, he misused his supernatural strength and escaped. While the Gazites were lying in wait to kill him, he pulled up the doors of the gate of the city and the two gateposts by midnight, and carried them on his shoulders to the top of the hill, and escaped.
Samson must have been deceived by his enormous supernatural strength to think that he could always get out of any situation no matter the type of life he lived. Though it kept working for him, a day came that on the lap of Delilah that power failed him because he had also failed God over time. After he had disclosed the source of his power to her, she shaved off the seven locks of his hair and he lost his supernatural strength.
Judges 16:20 says, “So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him” (New King James Version). Did you see that faulty mindset again? Samson was always misusing the gift of God in his life for personal advantage even when his life was in direct violation of the Word of God who gave him the power.
Live a holy life (Leviticus 11:44; 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16). Without holiness, nobody will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Obey the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Don’t be carried away by your gifts. Live to please the Giver.
Avoid misuse or abuse of the gifts that God has given you, especially spiritual gifts. “God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings” (1 Peter 4:10 The Living Bible). Don’t use your gifts to draw attention to yourself instead of Jesus. Don’t use your gifts for ego-boosting, for ungodly financial gain, to manipulate people, for competition or comparison, and so on.
You are a steward of the gifts of God. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 New King James Version).
Be a faithful and wise steward (Luke 12:42a). It is required in stewards that one be found faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I will not misuse or abuse the gifts You have given me. I will be a faithful and wise steward; I will use Your gifts in my life to Your glory, knowing that I am accountable to You. Help me Holy Spirit.
(For over 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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