To be read: April 10, August 10, December 10
If there are skilled workmen in the monastery, let them work at their art in all humility, but only if the Abbot gives his permission. 2If one of them should grow proud by reason of his art, such that he feels he is conferring a benefit on the monastery, 3let him be removed from that work and not return to it, unless after he has humbled himself the Abbot again orders him to do so. 4If any of the work of the artists is to be sold, let them, through whose hands the transaction must pass, see to it, that they do not presume to practice any fraud on the monastery. 5Let them always be mindful of Ananias and Sapphira, who suffered death in the body (cf Acts 5:1-11), 6lest they and all who practice any fraud in things belonging to the monastery suffer in the soul. 7As regards the prices of these things, let not the vice of avarice creep in, 8but let it always be sold a little cheaper than it can be sold by secular dealers, 9so that God May Be Glorified in All Things(1 Pt 4:11).
This chapter is not about doing art, it’s about the mindset and the heart of the artisan. We all have gifts, but are we using them for self-aggrandizement and personal profit, or for the building up of the Body and the glory of the Lord?
“Every good and perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17). Monks are not to claim possession of their talents. Artisans “are to practice their craft with all humility…If one of them becomes puffed up by his skillfulness in his craft…he is to be removed…”. If an artisan is to project the Imago Christi, he must see that the gift that he has been given by God is “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7).
The gifts that God has given to you are yours to use as you see fit. You have control over your body, your mind, your spirit. God has entrusted all that we have to our care. We can use our body, mind, and spirit for God and His kingdom; or we can abuse them or allow them to become dormant. The same is true for the gifts that God has graciously entrusted to our care. We can use the gifts selfishly, for our own benefit. We can let the gifts become dormant from fear or neglect. Or we can even use the gifts maliciously as did the fallen angels. The gifts are yours. You can “possess” them, or you can yield them to God for Him to use as He sees fit. It is like the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30). All three servants were given gifts. The two who used the gifts wisely for the Master were given more gifts. The one who selfishly buried his in the ground lost everything. When we return the gifts God has graciously given to us, He will use them for His glory and will entrust us with more.
You may be concerned if you have not used a God-given gift recently, or you are afraid that you didn’t use it correctly and God will be angry. “What if God has taken it away from me?” St. Paul can put your mind at ease. He said that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). Pick up the gifts again. Ask God to forgive you and to give you the grace to use these gracious gifts for His glory. Yield your spirit and your gifts to His will. Then watch what God will do.
What good gifts has God given to you? Are you allowing them to lie dormant? Are you using them selfishly? Or are you using them selflessly for the common good and for God’s glory?