Christmas is a time to give and receive gifts, but some of the very best gifts come from a person’s time and talents, taught Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, during the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional on Sunday, Dec. 5.
“God has given each of us gifts. You may not feel gifted, but you have spiritual gifts from God so you can bless others and draw closer to Him,” she said.
Sister Craig said gifts that come from giving of one’s time and talents are holy gifts. She shared the story of her Grandma Lundgren making a long drive to visit her family at Christmas time, then spending hours at the stove making Swedish pancakes with fresh sour cream. Sister Craig would eat until she couldn’t eat another bite.
“Now two additional generations of children have grown up feasting on those Swedish pancakes. And every time we make them, we remember Grandma Lundgren and her gift of love.”
Sister Craig talked about never really seeing herself as a gifted person. She feels very “normal,” she said, and sometimes felt small when looking at others’ great gifts. But she is learning that such comparisons are pointless and even destructive.
“More importantly, I have come to see the sacred power of God’s “less conspicuous gifts” and to rejoice in these as evidence of His love and confidence,” she said.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1971 until his death in 1994, taught that God’s spiritual gifts that are “less conspicuous” include the gifts of:
- Hearing and using a still, small voice
- Being able to weep
- Avoiding contention
- Being agreeable
- Avoiding vain repetition
- Seeking that which is righteous
- Not passing judgment
- Looking to God for guidance
- Being a disciple
- Caring for others
- Being able to ponder
- Offering prayer
Sister Craig said she hoped that list helps people see their own spiritual gifts in a new light — they do as much to lift God’s children as others that are recognized and celebrated more often.
During her talk, Sister Craig’s 6-year-old granddaughter Scarlett played “Silent Night” on the violin. Sister Craig compared it to her Grandpa Lundgren’s violin that sat unused and dusty on his shelf, even though he loved the violin and always wanted to learn to play. She used that as an example of how gifts from Heavenly Father are supposed to be shared.
“Don’t let God’s gifts to you, even His less conspicuous ones, go unused or unappreciated,” she said. “The gifts we each have from our Heavenly Father are meant to be used and shared; our voices meant to be heard.”
Listening, avoiding contention, not passing judgement, inviting, gathering — right now those gifts have never been more needed, said Sister Craig.
“Don’t let the music in you go unsung, the hug ungiven, the forgiveness unoffered,” she said.
“Don’t let the music in you go unsung, the hug ungiven, the forgiveness unoffered.”
She said she hopes everyone can see and receive the gifts that God has given them, and rejoice in Him, the giver of these gifts.
She concluded by saying that the way to rejoice at Christmas is to see and receive God’s gifts, first and foremost the “matchless gift” of a Savior.
“The gift of Jesus the Christ has been given, and at what cost! The question is, will we receive Him — will we let Him in and let Him prevail? How? I testify that receiving our King and His gifts will bring true joy — joy to the world and joy in the world.”