O. Henry’s short story “The Gift of the Magi” describes how Della Young sold her luxurious hair to buy her husband Jim a platinum watch fob, and Jim sold the golden watch he had inherited from his father and grandfather to buy Della a set of expensive tortoise shell combs. Each gave up what was dear to them in order to provide a gift for the other.
As we’ll see, the Levites were to use their gifts to serve God and others. But first, notice how our chapter today reads a little like an organizational chart! The first nineteen verses describe the “divisions of the descendants of Aaron” (v. 1). The order in which they entered the temple of the Lord had been assigned by God through Aaron (v. 19). The priests did not decide this for themselves—they were to submit to God.
Verses 20 through 24 list the rest of the descendants of Levi. Note that in verses 5 and 31 when the Levites were assigned their positions by lot, it is not implying that this was a matter of chance. The determination of the lot was considered an indication of God’s will (see Prov. 16:33). Ultimately the Levites, like the priests, were assigned their position by God.
We too receive assignments from God. We do not get to pick and choose our spiritual gifts from a menu. God selects them for us. The diversity of gifts that we see in the church is the work of the Spirit, who chooses how He will distribute the gifts within the body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:11).
Our call is to use our gifts—and our lives—sacrificially to serve God and others, even being willing to give up our treasures to bless others. We are called to “live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them” (1 Cor. 7:17).