I recently preached 1Timothy 4.14 , where Paul charges a young pastor named Timothy to “.. not neglect the gift you have, which was given you vby prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you” I began to wonder how many people neglect their gifts. Neglect is an interesting term, one that denotes a range of meaning from indifference to full on intentional abandonment. According to Scripture, gifts are given by God, given to glorify God, and given to edify the church. In other words, our gifts are not ours to used, abused, or ignored as we wish. Consider what it means to neglect a gift from God. I believe this verse fleshes out three different ways we WILL neglect God’s gifts unintentionally if we don’t employ God’s gifts intentionally:
#1 Neglect by not using: Some people do not employ their gifts at all. That doesn’t mean they do nothing, rather, that they don’t do the right thing. By right I mean to say they can work hard and serve hard, but they don’t do that which they are equipped by God to do. Sometimes this happens out of a lack of opportunity, sometimes ignorance of their gifts, and other times it is simply laziness. Everyone has talents, and everyone saved by Jesus has at least one gift. For those who truly desire to employ their gifts, like an itch you cannot scratch, they will not rest until they can. Those who could care less whether they can identify or use their unique blessing, disregard their Creator and neglect their gift.
#2 Neglect by not using to glorify God: Many people employ their gifts, but not for the glory of God. There are many who have been blessed by God with various talents and gifts. Unfortunately, instead of using them to “make much of God”, they are often guilty of using them, to make much of themselves. There are those who would argue that the employment of any gift is glorifying to God in that it is an expression of the imago dei in all of us. I don’t comprehensively disagree with this concept, but most “creative acts”, just as most individual lives, do not glorify God. This is not to say that every creative act is sinful, though the Bible says that anything that does not proceed from faith is sin. It is to say that God created the world to glorify Him, created us to glorify Him, and created gifts within us to glorify Him. Only Jesus can judge a man’s heart n this respect. As Paul says in 1Corinthians 10.31, “Whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.” If we can eat and drink in such a way to NOT glorify God, then we can certainly employ our gifts BUT neglect to do so to the glory of God.
#3 Neglect by not using to edify the church: Finally, there are those who use their gifts, a few who even use their gifts to glorify God, but then neglect to use them to edify the church. According to Scriptures, gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to build up and edify the church. In other words, gifts were designed to be exercised within community. The church is often described as the body of Christ. Paul makes a point to “flesh” out the body as made up of differnet parts with differnet roles. He says in 1Corinthians 12.12ff “…14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,  yet one body.” Neglecting to use your gift for the glory of God to edify the church, impacts everyone. The community is less just as a body without an arm, eye, or leg is less. It can manage, but could be so much more.