A Word to the Talented

Those of us who are talented, we may one day find, are talented for this reason: if we were not so talented, we would be so much the less likely to learn that talents mean nothing! We are blessed with intelligence, so we may know intelligence makes no one great, as dieing people would define great. We are gifted, so we may learn that gifts are as mammon in God's family: useful, but far too easy to idolize. We are beautiful, so we may discover that physical radiance fades, leaving only an inward lamp. We are strong, so we will know our strength can never be enough: we must trust another. If anyone is blessed, their blessing comes from God — and God never gives his children what is not for their good, though the blessing may harm in order to help.

On the other hand, many of us who are least in ability, in intelligence, in beauty, or in strength are such as they are because, out of all of us, they don't need the gifts to recognize them as superficial and secondary. Their struggles will lie in other areas.

The gifted are often gifted because, had they no gifts, they would pine after them forever, never learning that gifts are not valuable commodities, that the highest value of a gift is that it was given, that the giver is the main blessing, not the thing itself. The gift may be lost, but the giver, once given in the gift, can never be taken away. (Yet a giver is still more blessed: he receives both the giving and the receiver, and neither can be taken from him.) So for those whose growth would be harder if they had no gifts, a corrective lesson has been designed: they will have what they desire.

Like children who will not learn to eat their candy in moderation, they must have their candy until they are sick of it. Like some men who idle away their lives in business, they must have their success until they know what success is. Like some rich who hoard to themselves money and possessions, they must have all they want until they know they what they should want. To these, the gifts of God are simultaneous judgment and mercy — that is, they are his correcting hand. Those of us most blessed with gifts (God knows) may be the weakest, for we are the ones receiving the lesson.

Know this too: God does not give you a gift and then approve of you because you have that gift. That He gave you the gift is surest proof that you need no gift to be accepted. He does not say, "I don't love you. Let me put a hat on you. Ah! There you are. Now I love you, because you are wearing that hat." No strength, no beauty, no talent, no influence, no intelligence, no creativity, nor any other such thing is the basis upon which God receives you. He loves you because He is Him and you are you, and if you must have a better reason, you do not yet understand quite what love is. The very idea that love is unconditional requires our acknowledgment that, without any regard for our blessed accouterments, we are loved.

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