I recently solved a “Don’t Quote Me” puzzle from USA Today that surprised me. I have been to museums and have seen famous paintings by Pablo Picasso. But I never have understood or appreciated his wide array of work. I taught second grade and often thought my students produced better drawings than what I observed in the modern art wings of museums. I am, however, a huge fan of well-written thoughts. I was surprised when I discovered Picasso was the author of this quote: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” The quote appeared to be a biblical truth, from a surprising source.
Curiosity drove me to the Internet to read more about the artist’s life. Pablo Picasso lived to be ninety-one and produced more works of art than any other artist in history. He is famous for inventing the style of art known as Cubism and most biographers remarked on his ability to transform his style as time passed. There is little doubt that Picasso was extremely gifted, even as a child, in his artistic ability. Picasso’s life, however, is the best illustration of the wisdom he lacked.
Picasso was walking past a group of school age children and said, “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.” Picasso discovered his gift at an early age but, after reading several online biographies, I don’t think he ever recognized the Creator of his giftedness. Picasso’s life was marked by egocentric rebellion, which included rebellion against God’s word. Apparently Picasso looked in his mirror and saw his god. He believed in his ability, his opinions and his own version of truth. He also believed that sharing himself and his work was his gift to the world. Sadly, Picasso’s legacy is one that is praised by people, but not God.
I think the Pablo Picasso quote was biblical truth, almost. He said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift.” The apostle who shared Pablo’s first name, might have said, “the meaning of life is to find your spiritual gift.” Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and said, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed” (1 Corinthians 12:1). Every Christian has been gifted by God and every Christian should know and understand the gifts they have been given. If a Christian is “uninformed” it is likely that person will limit or miss his or her spiritual calling.
Paul wrote, “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).
Your Kingdom purpose is to allow Jesus to use your life, through your spiritual giftedness for the common good. Jesus still has an earthly ministry – through those whom the Holy Spirit is able to work through. Your spiritual gift is the way Jesus is most likely going to use your life for his eternal purpose.
Pablo Picasso said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” The apostle Paul would tell the Christian, “The meaning of life is to find your spiritual gift. The purpose of your life is to share your gift with others, as the Holy Spirit leads.” Paul ends the chapter by saying, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts, and I will show you the most excellent way.” That statement is the introduction for Chapter 13. Take a minute and read the familiar passage about the power of God’s love when shared by God’s people.
Do you know your spiritual gift? Do you know how God is most likely to use your life for his Kingdom purpose? There is no higher goal for Christians than to be available and usable by God’s Holy Spirit. The Denison Forum has a tool that can help you discover and understand your spiritual gift. It is free and it would be our joy to share it with you.
Pablo Picasso lived to be ninety-one and has a lot to show for his life on earth. However, none of his art is eternally valuable. The apostle Paul lived a much shorter life and died as a criminal. Every word he wrote, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is eternal and is being used for the glory of God. Our choice today is to decide which “Pablo” we most want to emulate.
Paul began his letter by saying, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25). I wonder – what would Picasso’s life have produced if he had lived by that verse? I think I would have enjoyed seeing those paintings very much.