Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. — 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
In my church tradition, we pray a prayer of confession during worship each week as a way of acknowledging our humanity and reconciling with God. One version of that prayer begins, “Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.”
When I pray that prayer, the words “what we have left undone” weigh most heavily on me. While I certainly act in ways that are hurtful to others, I can usually name those specifically and work to make amends. But things I “have left undone” could be anything. Perhaps I put my personal spiritual practice off for a less-busy week or ignored someone in need because the thought of interacting with a stranger made me uncomfortable. Or perhaps I left undone some act of compassion of which I wasn’t even aware.
It is significant that we pray this prayer as a congregation. As the scripture quoted above reminds us, each of us has been given different spiritual gifts, and each of us is called to serve in various ways. God does not call any one individual to do everything. Instead, God calls us as the body of Christ to use our particular gifts to share God’s grace with the world; together, we can accomplish all that God has set before us.
In this issue of The Upper Room, several writers share their personal experiences of doing and leaving undone and reflect on how they use the spiritual gifts God has given them. As you read, I invite you to consider how God is calling you to use your spiritual gifts to serve others in this season. How will you answer the call?