PAUSE: Understanding and Using Your Spiritual Gifts

There are many themes that run through the narratives of the Bible.  The holiness and love of God are consistent themes in Scripture: so too is unity.  Unity within the body of Christ (the church) is essential.  The church is made up of people from all walks of life, races, financial means, nationalities and even sexes (men and women together).  Unity and diversity have always stood alongside one another in the Bible as a reflection of the creator, God, Who is One God yet in 3 Persons (the Trinity).

Unity within the church faces many challenges.  The selfish nature of people is to gravitate to the individual.  It's easy to see when we raise up one player over the team (e.g. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks instead of just the Seahawks, in Christian circles we can elevate a Pastor over a church and even denomination or more - think of John Piper, Andy Stanley - some Pastors even have their names on their own study bibles).  When it comes to the subject of spiritual gifting in the church, comparisons and disunity seem to creep in like nothing else.  The natural temptation to compare ourselves to one another is some how elevated when you introduce spiritual gifts.

The Apostle Paul and others have much to say about spiritual gifts; however, today we focus in on the main purpose of gifts and later unpack the actual gifts.  From a place of unity God deploys diversity to build His Kingdom.

Ephesians 4: 1-6 is a beautiful picture of unity that is found in Christianity and the church family.  Regardless of background, race or anything - the church family is united in Jesus Christ.  In Verses 7-16, the Apostle turns and moves from unity to the diversity of gifts found given to the church family.  

The gifts are given for 3 purposes

1. Ephesians 4: 12, To equip the saints (church members) for the work of ministry (grounding and growing believers).

2. 1 Corinthians 12:7, for the common good (both inside and outside of the church family).

3. 1 Corinthians 14: 12, 26, 31, for the building up of the body of Christ.

Gifts are given to the church to advance the Kingdom. Not for personal agendas, to feed egos, to cause division, or ignite conflict.  We are not to look up or down to one another in the church but rather look forward to Jesus together.  When conflict, envy and comparisons are give attention around the subject of gifting - humility is lost and we're doing things wrong.  

When we envy and fight (creating comparisons among us and churches) we lose sight of what we're supposed to be about - reaching the lost - this is done through the beauty of our testimony individually but even more corporately.

From unity God seeks to deploy diversity to build His Kingdom on earth.

Understand this teaching from earlier in Paul's letter to the Ephesians (2:8-10).  "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of good works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

The first gift any of us in the church need to be concerned with is the gift of salvation and the beautiful humbling grace of God.  Understanding that from this position of humility God has given His church gifts to fulfill His purpose for her (reaching the lost of the world with the Gospel).  

This week consider the following:

  1.  Think about you for a moment.  Think about those things you naturally do (specifically for others) that when you do them, it feels like this is what you were made for.  
  2.  Ask yourself, "how can I use this thing for God?"
  3.  Start using that thing you do (that makes you feel like this is exactly what you were made for) for God's kingdom and not your own.

You are uniquely created by God (Psalm 139) and He has given you gifts to help you fulfill His will in your life.  You may have grown up in church and heard the word "gifts" and associated it with those Christians who have achieved some kind of special status in their lives with their knowledge of God.  Again, we naturally compare ourselves against one another and sadly when we think we fall short, we sit down and do nothing.

What if we just looked at gifting from God in the simple context of how He made you - drop all the religious mumbo jumbo.  There are things you do that come naturally to you and not others.  Some of you reading this love to learn and teach while others find that concept repellent but love to quietly visit sick and discouraged people.  Some of you reading this love to meet people and chat up strangers while others of you can't imagine that but love to cook for others. We all have "things" that when we do them we're in the zone.  Could that be your gift or at the least, the ability God has given you to build His Kingdom?

We all can't do everything but we can all do something.  Take a fresh look at your life and see where the "things you do" are that make you feel alive and firing on all cylinders.  That thing you do might just be your spiritual gifting or ability given you by God to build His Kingdom.  Go!  Go out and use your thing(s) for God's glory and watch Him do amazing things in and through you!  And, remember to have fun!

From unity God deploys diversity to build His Kingdom on earth!

Vince Armfield