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Are You in the Game for God? by Jim Grassi God expects us to refine and perfect our gifts In football, each player toils at his job hoping to win his individual battles. Each player brings his own dynamic to the game: for some it’s about intimidation; for others it’s a quiet but powerful exercise of God-given abilities; with a few players the battle is won through analysis and applied wisdom. There are times when it seems the energy and tension on the field is almost palpable. The totals on the scoreboard can at times be overshadowed by the personal battles on the field. The spectators also provide entertainment. Some, filled with exuberance, voice their approval or disapproval with deafening yells or shouts of joy. Others sit calmly waving their team’s banner. And we can’t overlook those spectators who get so involved in the game they actually dress up in costume, making sure to spread an ample supply of war paint on any exposed flesh. This prepares them for their role in winning the game. The Christian experience is a great deal like the game of football. While the battle between good and evil is waging within families, in the workplace, and in the hearts of those who don’t yet know the love, peace, and comfort God can provide, many Christians sit by calmly, watching events unfold. Until you become personally engaged in the struggles life brings, or make yourself available to help others who are hurting, you can’t really appreciate pain. Unfortunately, too many Christians find themselves merely spectators of life. They assume that full-time pastors and missionaries are the only ones charged with the responsibilities of ministering to others. Throughout the New Testament, we read of God’s desire for each person to fully utilize his gifts and talents to serve others. When we bury our treasured abilities, we make a grave mistake. Such was the case with an old violin collector named Luigi Tarisio, who took great pride in searching out and purchasing rare and unusual instruments. Yet, some of his greatest treasures were hidden away. After his death, when his home was inspected and the attic opened to appraise his estate, no fewer than 24 Stradivarius violins were found, along with 120 other Italian violins. One of the most expensive violins was hidden in an old piece of furniture. It was a rare Stradivarius that probably had not been played in over a hundred years. The grand instrument had gone un-played for over a century. Tarisio had selfishly robbed the world of its beautiful music. God has given each of us unique spiritual gifts, aptitudes, abilities, and talents (read 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12). No two people are the same. What you might think is a common talent may in fact be a uniquely shaped personal trait that can be of real encouragement to others. We can rob ourselves as well as others of a wonder-filled life by hiding our gifts in a “humble” personality. God expects us to refine and perfect our gifts through practice and participation rather than simply being a spectator. He wants us to share our talents. Just as a football game can stimulate a crowd of fans to a happy experience, so can you bring joy and encouragement to others as you use your God-given treasures. What is your spiritual gift (hospitality, giving, teaching, mercy, exhortation, discernment, wisdom)? In 2 Timothy 1:6, we are encouraged to “fan into flame the gift of God” as we develop our abilities. Let’s not become so earthly minded that we fail to use the gifts designed with eternal value. Get in the game!