My wife is an excellent gift-wrapper. When I wrap a gift, it looks like it's been wrapped by a three year old wearing mittens. She can make a present a treat before you even open it up. No matter how pretty the packaging is, if you don't open it up, it's just for looks. The gift wrap simply heightens the anticipation for what's inside. Why wrap an empty box, right?

Growing up, I had a friend whose family had one of those sitting rooms in their house no one was allowed to go into. It always felt like I was passing by the Holy of Holies, like I was somehow unworthy to even look at the room. The furniture was covered in plastic, the carpets spotless white, and everything in its proper place. It was just for looks. I always wondered what the point of that was. Isn't a home supposed to be lived in?

Here's my point: the church is full of people pretty to look at. I am happy to see our people gathered together on Sunday morning and at other times. But there's more to them than their faces. Our lives are designed to be in harmony with Christ's mission, and that's why the Holy Spirit has deposited within each of us who trusts Christ with "gifts" and abilities that partner us with Christ's mission.

These gifts, however, aren't just meant for ourselves. Some of my favorite gifts are "family gifts" -- the ones with my name on it but something the whole family can enjoy. The gifts God gives us are "family gifts" for the benefit of us all. And the gifts God gives are never stinkers; the Holy Spirit does not give bad gifts. James tells us that "every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights..." (James 1:17). Whatever gifts you've been given, they will bring you joy in sharing it and the whole church joy in receiving it.

There are a few reasons why we might not have joy in service to Jesus and his church. Chew on these:

1] You might be serving in a capacity that doesn't fit with how you're designed and gifted. You can use a screw like a nail, but you can do a lot of damage when you do. We need to find our area of service that fits how God has designed us.

2] You might be serving all alone and are burned out. Jesus has designed his body to be inter-dependent and working together as a team. No one is meant to carry the load by themselves.

3] You might not be serving at all. Yes, that's right. If you're not using what God has given you, you won't have joy in serving Jesus and his church. You're missing out on your God-given purposes.

Open the gifts God has given you! You're not "just for looks"!