What does it mean to be gifted? “She’s a gifted person.” “He is surely talented.” That can mean that person is intelligent, sings well, knows how to work with children, paints striking paintings, decorates their home beautifully, plays a musical instrument well. The list goes on. At times, we take it up a notch, “he is gifted by God.” I.e., only God could give that ability. What would make you say, “that’s a God-given gift”? Someone who sends chills down your spine as she sings? Someone who speaks so you think you’ve encountered God’s prophet?
Recently, while reading the Bible, I read about a man being filled with God’s Spirit. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translated it, “I have filled him with divine spirit.” The New Living Translation has, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God.” Would whatever happened as a result of being filled with God’s Spirit qualify as a gift from God? That’s what wrested my attention. The man who experienced that God-filling was Bezalel, who designed and constructed the wilderness Tabernacle and its equipment. I’ve thought often about what the Bible said about Bezalel since I read it.
I love it when something grabs me while reading the Bible. It’s inspiring, motivational. The Bible is, I believe, a living document revealing God’s words, heart and mind. Things can happen to us when we read it. The Old Testament book of Exodus records God saying of Bezalel: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God . . . .” What happened when God filled Bezalel? Here’s the result: “I have filled him with divine spirit, with ability, intelligence, and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft” (Exodus 31:3-5, NRSV).
Wait a minute. Doesn’t God’s filling people with his Spirit result in helpful preaching of God’s Word? Of course I would think of that. I’ve worked at preaching God’s Word for more than 40 years. That’s why it got my attention. It was not a customary idea of what “filling of God’s Spirit” does to a person. That filling made Bezalel a great craftsman and artist.
The Spiritual Formation Bible (SFB) notes reminded me, this is the first person the Bible mentions being filled with the Spirit of God. The first. Here’s the introductory example of what happens when God invades someone. Bezalel became an artist. Many things can be artistic: painting, crafts, woodwork, design, dance, singing, etc. But lets not miss the high status of what is recorded here. Murray Andrew Pura continues his comments in the Exodus footnotes of the SFB, “It is a common thought that art is simply a fringe benefit of society, something that occurs when there is enough leisure time left over from the essentials to produce it. The Bible knows nothing of this sort of thinking. God’s art is right in the middle of everything, not on the margins, and is in fact what is essential to Israel’s existence and identity” (p 138). Wow!
Is every artist filled with God’s Spirit? No. Raw talent is possible that’s not God-infused. But what if that same raw talent became God-saturated? Bezalel may have had raw talent, but when God filled him, that raw talent was raised to a new level and he was able to do things with profound meaning. A God-filled artistry has an importance that moves it from life’s margins to life’s center.
This God-encounter reminds me to check my perceptions of God’s plan against what God’s plans seem to be. God’s filling may result in something I never imagined. Add to this the Apostle Paul’s comments to the Corinthian church: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you- do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). If things as mundane as eating and drinking can be done for God’s glory, what else can be done for God’s glory, when we are filled with God’s Spirit?