How Will God Use Your Gifts?

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

─ Colossians 3:23-24

Born in France in 1765, James Lewis Macie was the illegitimate son of Hugh Smithson, the 1st Duke of Northumberland. At only ten years old, he changed his name and became a naturalized British citizen and became known as James Smithson. He excelled in the natural sciences and when he was of age, he enrolled in Pembroke College, Oxford.


His interest in the sciences helped him to create a solid reputation as a chemist and mineralogist in the late 1700s. He quickly earned the respect of his peers, and just a year after graduating from college, The Royal Society of London acknowledged his scientific abilities and granted him membership, an honor exceedingly rare for someone so young.


Upon his death in 1829, he left a will with a strange request. If his only nephew, Henry James Hungerford, died without any heirs, his entire estate would go to the United States, a country he had never visited, to establish the Smithsonian Institution. Just six years later, Smithson’s nephew died without heirs, which sparked more than a decade of debate among those in American government about how to spend this gracious gift from the English scientist.


It wasn’t until 1846 that President James K. Polk signed the Smithsonian Institution Act into law. Today the Smithsonian is comprised of 19 museums and galleries, nine research facilities around the world and the national zoo. Smithson’s benevolent gift is something he shared with past, present and future generations and has been enjoyed by millions.


Similarly God has given each of us gifts and talents. Perhaps our talents are in the area of numbers or spatial reasoning. Or maybe they’re in words or interpersonal connections. Whatever our gifts, we can use them to edify, encourage and lift up others. We may not be able to leave a Smithsonian-size legacy, but we have no idea how our work today will impact the generations to come. Let’s be faithful to use our gifts well.


Today’s One Thing

Identify one talent that you’d like to foster. Sign up for a class or read a book about how to improve in it. As you learn more, think about how you can serve God through this work.


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