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“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we                       do not lose heart.”  Galatians 6:9

I am a stickler for expiration dates.  Obsessively so.  If a product has a date on it, I don’t try to haggle about the difference between “best by” or “use by” or “sell by”. If the date on that package has passed, then it is no longer on my okay list.  This is a cause of contention in my house, where my mom believes that dates are negotiable.

There are those who talk about the brevity of life by using the example of life having an expiration date. But the thing is, as beings created for eternity, this doesn’t really apply to us.  When our time on this earth ends, we will merely continue on elsewhere.  Because of this, I firmly believe that everything we do now is practice and preparation for eternity in Heaven.

Someone told me yesterday that he felt he had made a lost of mistakes in his life by being so ready to serve at church.  He said that he is so happy now just to attend a church where nothing is expected out of him- he doesn’t even really have to show up.  But when he does show up, he can just enjoy being a bystander.  And this makes me very sad, because this man, with amazing gifts for ministry and teaching, has chosen to expire.

But you see, our spiritual gifts never do expire. They are meant to be invested, to be developed, to be in a constant cycle of use. This does not mean that we have to serve on every committee, volunteer at every event, teach every class.  No, we have to use our gifts with wisdom and discretion, remembering that if we hog all the ministry positions, we are stealing a blessing from someone else.  But we do have to use our gifts.  They were given to us by a sovereign, infinite God who has an eternal plan for us, and that plan requires us to be proficient at using the gifts He has given us.

I think of a person who is given the ability to paint amazing portraits. This person studies, practices, sketches, experiments with color, and probably throws away a lot of mess-ups before stepping back from the canvas to see a masterpiece.  This masterpiece may have taken months to complete, in complex detail, painstaking brush-strokes, hours in thought and observations.  Upon seeing that beautiful masterpiece, the artist doesn’t chunk all the paints and supplies in a box and toss it in the trash. Instead, he starts the process all over again- because there is always another masterpiece to create.

Using our gifts in service to God and others can make us tired. It can make us weary. But we are not to allow that physical and emotional weariness to steal our heart. Every week that we can show up in our place of service, whether it is teaching, passing out bulletins, keeping the nursery, etc., we have the opportunity to create something beautiful for the Kingdom of God- something that will last for eternity.  Even though we may be tired, frustrated, aggravated or disappointed, every week we serve can be a masterpiece.

It is your choice- but I urge you- don’t choose to expire.