What do you bring to the table?
This is a common question for a job interview, or during a corporate merger, or even when solving a group problem. But what if God asks the question?
Sometimes we begin to believe that we have something special to offer God. A unique set of qualities or gifts, a life filled with all the right things, or perhaps we have reached a spiritual pinnacle that will be sufficient to impress God.
In Luke 18:11 we see this in scripture:
The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.’
Feeling that we are above others is a dangerous place to be. God clearly denounced this behavior, and told us we are to be servants to others, not lords over them. He condemned the behavior of the Pharisee in Luke 18, explaining that none of us has any ability apart from Christ to do good.
So what, then, can we bring to the table for God?
It is important to begin at the right starting points. Here are several.
- I cannot take credit for my position in life
- Although we make choices throughout our lives that alter its course, even our refusal to make bad choices comes from God. The phrase, there but for the grace of God, go I, is attributed to reformer John Bradford in the 1500’s, but it is based upon 1 Corinthians 15:10 that states: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
- I bring nothing of value to the table
- Whatever I believe I have to offer God, it is in vain that I do so. An old joke is told of an extremely wealthy businessman who showed up at the pearly gates with a trunk full of something he considered precious. St. Peter told him he could not bring it in, but the man insisted that he had labored his entire life for what was in the trunk so that he could offer it to God one day. St. Peter finally looked in the trunk at the man’s priceless treasure—it was filled with solid gold. St. Peter looked at the man a little bewildered and said, “Pavement?” So often we think that our abilities or our works are assets to God. They aren’t. He doesn’t need us. We need Him.
- Humility and obedience are more important to God than charisma and a progressive agenda.
- Those who are preaching that we are to make ourselves valuable to God need to take another look at the disciples. God did not pick the finest of scholars to spread His Gospel. He chose men whom He could teach. A broken and a contrite heart God can use. A haughty man who feels he has contributed toward his salvation because of the lack of sin in his life has missed the point entirely.
The question remains, what are you bringing to the table before God? If it’s a broken and a contrite heart, you’re on the right path. If it’s a list of the things of value you offer Him, start over.