Today is Veterans Day. Most of you reading this probably know someone who has served in the armed forces. And everyone reading this owes a debt of gratitude to those who have sacrificed so much that we may have our freedoms. As we pause today to remember, honor, and give thanks to our nation’s veterans, I am also grateful for the spiritual gifts that God poured upon them. I suppose many veterans would cite “love of country” as a primary reason for their entering the military; which, of course, is true. However, something predated and even overpowers their love of country: the gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit.
I suspect that many of our veterans possess the gifts of “compassion” and/or “helping.” The spiritual gift of compassion moves people to action on behalf of those in need. When you have this gift, your care for others is radical, in that you will make real sacrifices for them. A spiritually-gifted compassionate individual doesn’t just care about others, they see the face of Jesus in the other; and spring into action to do whatever it takes to provide for their needs. Paul says that we are to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12: 15) Compassionate people identify with this passage, as they instinctively take on the feelings of others. They are almost always the kindest and most sensitive folks you will meet.
Those with the spiritual gift of “helping” are often compassionate people themselves; but may exercise their gifts in different ways. “Helpers” tend to be individuals who are filled with humility and grace, content to work behind the scenes in supporting roles in order to make a larger group more cohesive and effective. Not all are spiritually-gifted to lead, but many more are gifted to play less glamorous (but absolutely essential) roles for the good of the body. These roles are so often filled by those with the spiritual gift of helping. And while the “compassionately-gifted” will often need to be built up and encouraged for the work they do, the “helper” is typically less interested in being recognized for his or her work. Their primary objective is to contribute valuable work that is helpful to the greater community.
When I look at the veterans I know, I see many compassionate helpers among them; and much more. We give thanks today for our veterans. And most especially, we give thanks to God for every good gift bestowed upon us.
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