For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
— Romans 12:3-8

Many of us get hung up on this — offering our best, rather than our scraps, making ourselves available to God first before we commit to other things. We all have excuses about how we don’t make it a priority:

“My kids have soccer practice.”

“We are training for a marathon.”

“School is just really piling up this week.”

But at its core I don’t think it’s just a misplaced priority. I think it’s a core belief about who we are. Deep in our hearts, in the dark recesses of our being, when we really probe around and take a look, it’s not that we don’t make God a priority in our life, it’s that we don’t believe that we actually have something to give. We don’t believe that we are worthy to be used by God. We see our mess ups, our brokenness, our short temper, our lustfulness, our lying, rather than seeing God’s love and grace that covers all our sins and uses us for his Kingdom far beyond how we thought we could be used.

God is always telling a story of redemption — about how he is making this world — his world — whole again. And he is involving us in the process. God has not thrown away his original created intention with us, that we should reflect the image of God as we rule over this world, and till the Garden. No, he involves us in his plan to redeem and restore the world to himself. God has created us. God has redeemed us. God has gifted us.

Look at the Romans passage again. Working off of one of his favorite metaphors for the church, Paul begins to flesh out what it means to be a member of this body and to be used by God. In v. 6, Paul tells us that God has gifted us because God intends to use us in the body of Christ, and these gifts are based on the grace that he has given us.

Think about that for a minute. Paul is saying that in the redemptive grace that God has poured out upon us, how he has covered our sins with the blood of Christ and brought us into his family, with that grace God has gifted us so that we might have a role, a purpose, a use in the body of Christ. Those sins that we are so ashamed of, God will use to tell his story of redemption, both in your life and in the life of those around you. Both inside the church and outside the church.

What this means is that we don’t have to hold ourselves back. We don’t have to get our lives in order before we will be useful to God. We don’t have to wait until the end of our week, the end of our pocketbooks, the end of our ropes to give our lives over to the purposes of God. When we base our lives on the worship of God (Rom. 12:1), then we will begin to give over our best, our middle and our scraps — in other words our whole being.