How to use superpowers with love
Nostrils flared, I huffily organize my friend’s papers into envelopes. She’s been paralyzed by the mess for months. I can’t believe such a simple task keeps her from moving forward.
Then, I picture Jesus standing before me with his arms crossed, saying, “About your attitude: I said to love your neighbour as yourself. I repeated it a few times in different ways and even showed you how to do it when I lived on earth for 30-plus years.
“Through my servant Paul, I taught, ‘To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good’” (1 Corinthians 12:7).
In other words, whatever superpowers God gave me were meant to bless others. God never intended for me to wield my gifts and abilities like a self-righteous weapon.
Sometimes we organized, Type A people can be judgmental. Remember Martha during Jesus’ visit to her house (Luke 10:38–42)? When her sister Mary sat and listened to him instead of helping with the meal, Martha whined: “Lord, there is so much to do. Tell that lazybones Mary to help.” I can picture her preparing the pita and olive oil with quick, sharp movements and setting it before her guests with a clunk.
But he didn’t. Mary chose relationship, and she was rewarded for it. Scripture doesn’t tell us whether Martha relaxed and sat down with Mary or continued bustling about her home in annoyance.
I’ll be honest, I get annoyed when people struggle with things I find easy.
For example, I have a superpower for finding things. When something is not in its usual spot, I can think creatively about where it might be. Often, I ask God to show me where things are. One time, I had a clear picture of my son’s cellphone in the recycling bin, and there it was at the curb among the newspapers and tuna cans.
Yet, most times, when my kids or husband ask me to find something, I’m annoyed. I judge them for giving up too soon or just not being good at searching.
My husband’s attitude is much more gracious. Wes has a superpower with technology.
When I get into a jam because I have been randomly pushing buttons on my computer, hoping the right thing will happen, he rescues me without judging. He even patiently teaches me how to avoid the problem in the future. Wes uses his knowledge and gifts to serve me.
Calling all body parts
God left gaps in our abilities so we would need each other. In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul compares the church to a body with each part doing its work. Every part of the body is valuable and necessary.
Paul addresses my tendency to think I am better than someone who does not have my gift. “The eye cannot say to the hand. ‘I don’t need you’” (v. 21).
Some people have the opposite problem. They devalue their gifts and think they aren’t important. Yet, when we keep our gifts to ourselves, we withhold God’s goodness from the people around us.
Paul teaches us to esteem the role God gave us and to honour each other. “If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn’t hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn’t smell a thing. But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best” (1 Corinthians 12:17–18, CEV).
Love it or leave it
Being task-oriented, I love to get things done and check them off my list. But what if none of it counts if I don’t do it with love?
Is this what Paul means in 1 Corinthians 13 when he says, “If I have faith to move mountains but have not love, I am nothing”? If I don’t use my superpowers with love, are my accomplishments useless, destined to end up as torched wood, hay and straw (1 Corinthians 3:12–13)?
I’m going to need God’s help to appreciate the people around me and to share my gifts in love.
Lord, help me to be patient as I humbly use my gifts with love. Help me to see it as a privilege to serve others and to receive gratefully what they give to me.
—Sandra Reimer is a member of Gleincairn MB Church, Kitchener, Ont.