Gifts! ..... From God? (Part 1)
In the seventies and early eighties there was much discussion and focus upon recognizing the gift (s) which the Lord had given the Christian for the work in the kingdom. It seems in the 1990’s and since that the gifts of the Holy Spirit nor a call of God in the life of ministers and pastors is something rarely spoken about. I guess I can understand that, even though it is wrong, when ministers become “administrators and office managers” earning $100,000.00 plus a year. The work becomes a job and not a call at that point! As one missionary used to say, “ many men seem to be Mommy called and Daddy sent.”
Oh Lord, please lead your Church by men called of you, and may we each seek to discover, know and apply the gifts give to us by the blessed Holy Spirit for the advancement of your kingdom and in the service of others showing forth the sacrificial love of the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, It is important to distinguish the difference between the Fruit of the Spirit, from the Gifts of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is for all believers, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Eph. 5:9) The fruit of the Spirit stands opposed to the works of the flesh building character in the Christian for “ … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23)
The gifts of the Spirit, while every Christian has at least one, are distributed by the Holy Spirit according to His sovereign will. ( 1 Cor. 12:3-11; Eph. 4:7; 1 Pt. 4:10) He gives the gifts to His people as he determines and in the measure He decides. WE can rest assured the gift (s) we have is to be used to glorify our Lord, help, serve and encourage the saints, and to advance the kingdom of out Lord!
1Co 12:3-11 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (4) Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (5) And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. (6) And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; (9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; (10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Several Biblical truths are presented in the above passages regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
1. Every Christian has a gift or gifts from the Holy Spirit to them - "To each one of us ..." (Ephesians 4:7; 1 Peter 4:10)- "each one has received a gift"
2. The gifts the Holy Spirit gives are different in that each is its own kind of gift. They each have different purposes. Therefore the gifts being applied in the kingdom of God has different results. - "Now there are varieties of gifts .. . varieties of ministries, and . . . varieties of effects" (I Corinthians 12:4-6) and "distributing to each one individually" (I Corinthians 12:11).
3. The gifts are given to each person in a measure poured out by the Holy Spirit - "according to the measure of Christ's gift" (Ephesians 4:7).
4. Individual gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of all - "To each one is given... for the common good' (I Corinthians 12:7; cf. also vss. 14-31;! Peter 4:10)
5. All gifts given by the Holy Spirit are important and needed by all - I Corinthians 12:14-31
6. Gifts are distributed sovereignly by the Holy Spirit - "as He wills" (I Corinthians 12:1)
Secondly, the reality of gifts being given to the Church to individuals by the Holy Spirit calls for Her members to insist upon having instruction for the identification, development and use of the gifts.
There must be a “programmed focus” by our Church leaders to instruct the Church members in what the gifts are, the discovery of the gifts of each person in the kingdom and in the manner that the gifts are to be developed and used. After all this is the call, gifting, purpose and results of the work of our pastor teachers.
Eph 4:11-16 And he gave some ….. pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
A program for the discovery, development, and use of gifts is requisite for Christians to get a grasp on their gift (s) and call from God. Roman 12: 3-8 establishes the basic framework for evaluating, recognizing and application of the gifts and call of God in ones life. We see that framework for in we :
• vs 3: Evaluate soberly to discover God's gifts.
• vss. 4-5: Recognize the function of the individual gift among the many.
• vss. 6-8: Use the individual gift in practical applications by God's help.
Rom 12:3-8 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (4) For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: (5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (6) Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; (7) Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; (8) Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Thirdly, the implications of having a gift or gifts from God are many.
They are as varied as each individual and each gift God bestows. Each person with their gift (s) identified will need to implement the use of the gift in the best and most efficient manner possible to them. Perhaps you are laboring where God have gifted you but you have discovered another gift that will take more time throughout the weeks and years to come. In this case then you will need to learn time management, planning and scheduling. As good stewards in the kingdom of God we each will seek be faithful to our Lord. Some will have the call of God in their life to the ministry, some to missionary work, some are called to be carpenters, clerks, housewives, nurses, doctors, etc. Therefore many will need to set aside time for schooling or perhaps the schooling has been done but you may not be working in the gift (s) and call the Lord has given to you. More on the gifts of God and our vocation in life can be discovered in the writing Biblical Principals of Work and the Biblical Work Ethic at http://christianthotsataglance.blogspot.com/ .
You may find that as you discover, develop and began deploying you gifts faithfully there may be changes in you life may forthcoming. For example a change in your focus, attitude and practice in the vocation God has you working in now in your life may be needful. Especially if instead of seeing your gifts and labor as unto the Lord you discover that you are a “job complainer”. And in this you are a complainer of the gift (s) God have given you! This sin therefore will need to be confessed for, we are instructed - “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” (Col. 3:22-25)
There is no room for job complaints. Those that complain about their jobs, their bosses, and, especially, any lack of appreciation must be confronted for all such complaints ultimately are against Christ, for "it is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (vs. 24).
God has given men certain competiencies to fit the calling or callings God has for each person. Men are to work using those gifts and ablities which God has gifted him or her. We live in a society wherein we think we all have the rights and ability to go to college, take whaever course of study we desire, struggle through, graduate and then work at that job for which we desire even though we barely passed the final exam. It is true that we are all created equal but we do not have the same abilities. Maybe, just maybe, we are over extended from our God given abilities. You need to understand that not all people have the same abilities. Some people do not see well. Therefore for them to take a job as a reader, test grader, newspaper journalist / editor would be out of their God given providential abilities.
The gifts of God in Romans 12, 1 Peter, and 1 Corinthians are gifts based upon the abilities God is pleased to give the believers. So it is with mankind in creation in general. All non-inhibited, non-handicapped people may be creative in their abilities God has given them, but not all of them can be carpenters, lawyers, doctors, business men. Not all can be office managers, drafters, contract negotiators, etc. Your abilities are a gift from God. You need to decern your abilities and seek those avenues of study and labor. For you to try to be an auto mechanic, even if you have a desire, without the ability to perform this task is to bring upon you undue burden, hard labor, dissatification in the work force and personal relationship problems. You may even find yourself eventually in the unemployment line. Without further comment and any other example I think most of us can identify with this in that many of us may have possibly have been there.We need to understand that our abilities are from God.
Not only are our gifts and abilities from him but also the labor that we are to perform is a calling of God in our lives. We know that God is soverign and that in His providence we are in a vocation from God. Therefore we are to work in that position which fits our competiencies and abilities to the glory of Christ our Savior knowing that this is God’s will for us at this time. Our life will be best regulated when the focus is to know, acknowledge and use those God given abilities. In putting our abilities to use we will not be unsettled about where to look for a place to fit in the work environment. We will not be running to and fro at every "I think I’d like to do this" fanciful whim. We will not be trying to do that which is really beyond our abilities. We will quickly become more stable in our work environment, with a more stabile work enviornment and we will be more stable in providing for the family. Also in this we will be able to do a better quality work for the glory of God, the advancement of the kingdom and the common good for our society.
How does one evaluate to discover, develop, and use the gifts God has given to you as an individual? Romans 12:3-6 affords a basic biblical framework.
1. First, you need to evaluate soberly (clearly and factually) yourself in order to discover God’s gifts. An example: Do not think you are a scientist when you do not know nor have never worked in science field but only like science magazines.
2. Secondly, you must recognize the function of the individual gifts among the many that there are. You must know that your abilities are different from others yet they are part of a whole. Not all have the same gifts or abilities.
3. Thirdly, use the individual gift in practical applications which is given you by the grace of God, by God’s help. In other words, "How does that which I am able to do affect others in church and society?Romans 12:3-6 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Romans 12:4-5 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Work was established in the garden prior to the fall. In this "friendly environment" work was about being obedient to God who ordained it. Created men were to accomplish work because of the ordanince / decree of God. Therefore we can deduce from the time historical account of the established ordinance that money is not the satisification we get from work. The money we get from work is a benefit and not its ultimate purpose. The ultimate purpose in work is to please God by being obedient to Him working aqs unto Him. Work done in a God-honoring manner will bring joy and satisfaction as we live redeemed in Christ in the abundant life He gives.The necessity in man is to be a creative and productive being. Man has been made to have dominion over the works of his hands. God has put all things under his feet. (Ps. 8:6 and Genesis chapters 1-2) This overall calling and necessity is seen in the carrying forth of such desires in the tasks and duties of:
a. the science of discovery;
b. building of things;
c. Home furnishing and decorating;
e. self-employment of many sorts;
Fourthly, No one is useless in the Kingdom of God.
All Christians are given a gift or gifts. The biblical teaching on gifts meets all those objections of persons who have arrived at the erroneous conclusion that they are useless, have no reason for going on, etc. What one does not have cannot be expected from that person however what one has been given is ti be discovered, developed and applied. The person that claims, “I have no gifts.” Has not been taught, or is seeking laziness as a way of life in the kingdom or perhaps they are depressed. Even the sick and elderly can do some things which the Lord gives them. For example a person that is no longer able to work outside and is therefore homebound or has been placed in a mature care facility can pray, send cards, make phone calls, etc. in order to encourage support actions in the kingdom of God.
There is no one useless in the kingdom of God! The biblical facts show that there is always a place to work in the kingdom of God. The Body of Christ is in need of all your gifts and the combinations there of. If they are not used the body of Christ suffers from your using them. The Holy Spirit knows what He is doing therefore lets use the gift (s) given us. OK! For more on the usefulness of all Christians please read the blog From Uselessness To UseFullness http://christianthotsataglance.blogspot.com/.
Fifthly, There is no room for bragging – “I’m better than you.”
One the other hand that is not one person that has the rite to say, “Look at me I am better than you are since I have this or that gift”. Remember that God has given the gifts and distributed them as he has desired. Properly understood this stamps out pride in those that think they are better than others and on the flip side it knocks out envy and jealously since that is not the purpose of God in the giving of the gifts. The purpose is to glorify God, serve our brethern and advance the kingdom of our Lord.
To be continued ...... Steve