Gifts for Good or Gifts to Gods

by Joanna Pierce on July 25, 2018

I was a concert-trained pianist for most of my childhood, pre-teen, and teenage years. Between teachers, parental coaching, and God’s blessing, I had a fair musical aptitude. While God had created me with a musical gifting, piano playing didn’t happen by osmosis; I had to set time aside to practice. Practicing usually consisted of a few hours a day, every day of the week. Practice time was enough to improve and sharpen my skills, but definitely didn’t consume my life.

I believe God was shaping my musical path early to help me in later ministry. Playing the piano has been something I’ve used for His Kingdom, ministering at my home church and elsewhere. Because of the time that I, as well as others, have invested in this gift, piano playing has blessed not only me, but others as well.

As the Lord has blessed me with a particular gifting, He does the same for all His children. Once a talent is placed in our hands, it’s up to us to cultivate the gift and use it appropriately for His work. But, if we’re not careful, this gift can take shape to something destructive, as we find in Scripture.

When the Nation of Israel was wandering through the wilderness, the people began to speak against God and Moses. In God’s anger, He sent fiery serpents among the people and many died (Numbers 21). To combat this, Moses was instructed to craft a brazen serpent, set it on a pole, and whoever looked upon the brazen serpent would live. This was all accomplished as a type and foreshadow of our coming Savior, Jesus Christ.

He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan (II Kings 18:4, KJV).

The brazen serpent was initially a blessing/tool put into the hands of the people. It healed them and they were able to journey on into the wilderness, eventually arriving in the Promise Land. But, over time, Israel took the gift of God and began to worship it. The blessing was used improperly and became and idol, which king Ahaz eventually destroyed.

As a young girl, I could have been driven to practice the piano for hours a day to excel to a ridiculous level of mastery. At that point, excessive practice time would have been only for myself and probably wouldn’t have been used for ministry. If I wasn’t careful, even playing the piano—a gift from God—could have become an idol in my life. A blessing transformed into an element of destruction.

When we look at our lives today, and the gifts God’s placed in our hands, we need to take a moment to determine if what’s present has morphed into an idol. We can smile, and brush this off, not giving it a second thought. But, I wonder if we’ve lighted a bit of incense which smell hasn’t quite reached our nostrils to set off the alarm bells yet.

What God means for our good, the devil means for our demise. He will help utilize our flesh to manipulate God’s gift into something to harm us. If we’re not careful, and don’t pay attention, that gift can transform into an idol. If we’re lucky, God will send someone (like king Ahaz) into our life to destroy it. If we’re not, God may allow us to operate the rest of our lives under the false assumption that what we have in our life is a blessing, when really, it’s turned into our greatest curse.

Let’s pray today God helps expose any potential idol in our life. We’re not to have any other god before Him. We want to make sure we only serve the One, true God and use any talent He’s given us the right way. Let God’s gifts stay as gifts and not turn into gods.