In the year 1880, there was a painter in America named Emmanuel Ningger.
One day, Ningger went to a wholesale store to buy all the basic necessities for his family. Ningger brought lunch from home and $20.
All the items were already in Ningger's shopping basket, and then he approached the cashier to pay. The cashier accepted the $20 and gave change to Ningger.
What happened next was that the cashier's hands became sweaty. Then he noticed streaks and lines on his hands when he held the $20 given by Ningger.
He reported it to his manager, and the manager called a police officer who identified that the $20 bill was undoubtedly counterfeit. The police immediately went to Ningger's house and arrested the counterfeiter.
What's astonishing is that during the police investigation, they found that Ningger had forged the $20 bill by painting it with his own hands! The result was extraordinary, exactly the same!
Had it not been for the "bleeding" paint, he might never have been caught.
Interestingly, while searching his property, the police discovered three paintings in Ningger's workshop that, if sold, would have been worth no less than $5000!
*Actual image of a Ningger $100 note.
Isn't it ironic? Ningger needed only to invest the same amount of time and talent to paint his counterfeit $20 bills as to create paintings worth $5000 or more. Same investment but very different values and outcomes.
He was a $5000 calibre painter, but, unfortunately, he was unable to see or tap into the value of his own talent and potential.
Scripture is clear:
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights ... " (James 1:17, NIV).
And as God has distributed His gifts to us, He expects us to use them for both the good of others, and for His glory.
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace ..." (1 Peter 4:10, ESV).
"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 12:6-8, ESV).
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ... Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:17, 23-24, NIV).
Yet all too often, either by virtue of our own spiritual blindness (or even spiritual laziness) we fail to recognize the giftedness the Lord implanted within us. In shortsightedness, we squandor His blessings.
We are inherently valuable, yet we'd rather settle for a petty counterfeit version of our giftedness than tap into the true talent (both spiritual and otherwise) that God has lavished upon us.
Why be a Ningger when you can be a Michaelangelo?!