We have seen in the last couple of posts Paul lay down some foundational attitudes that we need individually and collectively to develop, the right attitude to ourselves, the right attitude to others. Now in verse 6-8 the focus is on gifts, and how to be part of a healthy expression of church we need to develop the right attitude to gifts
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it
I think that perhaps Satan’s most successful strategy to hinder the work of the church has been connected to what Paul is talking about in these verses. Satan has managed to make “gifts” that God gives us to bring unity in the church and help build up the church a source of division and controversy. I believe if we listen to what God’s Word says here we can combat that be developing the right attitude
So what are these gifts? Well it might help to point out that they are not called “spiritual gifts” here. The Greek word for them is “CHARISMATA “ which translates as “GRACE GIFTS” These are “gifts” or abilities given to each us by God’s Grace and used through God’s grace. They are not given to us by God due to our intellect or ability or maturity or as some sort of reward or badge of spirituality. It is vitally important that we grasp that when it comes to these “gifts” that we didn’t earn them, and we don’t deserve them and anything that is achieved through them is not down to us
Why do I say developing that attitude to gifts is so vital because if we don’t we will start either becoming prideful about the gifts we have or jealous of the gifts that other people have and let me tell you nothing will poison community in a church quicker than those two attitudes.
If “CHARISMATA” are “Grace Gifts” it means that you and I can
- CAN USE OUR GIFTS WITHOUT PRIDE
- ALLOW OTHERS TO USE THEIR GIFTS WITHOUT JEALOUSY
So that’s what these “gifts” are I don’t want to go into detail about each individual gift that Paul talks about here, for what its worth I think these are representative along with the other gifts he talks about elsewhere. What I want to emphasise is the assumption in the New Testament that every single believer has a cluster of these “charismata” the question then becomes what do we do with them?
I call these verses PAUL’S NIKE VERSES ….. in essence he says “ JUST DO IT “ whatever God has gifted you to do, just do it! We all have gifts, the church needs those gifts to be healthy, so we need to use them. This, as they say, isn’t rocket science.
So God’s Word here says to each of us when it comes to the Body of Christ, no spectators are allowed. We are as “members” of the Body to
- FIND A POSITION OF SERVICE
- NOT STAND ON THE SIDELINES
- GET INVOLVED
The so called Pareto principle means that all typically in an organisation that 80% of the work done by 20% of the people. I want to say that its scandal that the pareto principle applies in so many churches.
Why do so many gifted believers refuse to do what God has gifted them to do in the church. Well Im sure there are plenty of reasons.
I just want to highlight one major cause “CLERICALISM” Clericalism is about those called and gifted to serve within the church in leadership, we’ll call them pastors or ministers, assuming nearly all of the positions of service and effectively excluding other people from discovering and using their gifts. Often Sunday worship services and other ministries in the church look like the Christian equivalent of a one man band. If I understand God’s correctly here, its ruling out one “man” or “woman” bands, we are all gifted, we are needed.
The other side of the problem of “clericalism” where professional clergy take roles on themselves that others should be doing is a sad attitude among many involved in the church that says “Leave it to the professionals” isn’t that what we pay them for? As well as being terrible theology that to me is often just a cover for laziness or apathy, people who can’t be bothered abdicate their responsibility to use their gifts and become passive spectator.
So how do you find out what your gift is? I think a mixture of innate knowledge and common sense, most of us know the areas we are good at (I knew from a young age I wasn’t gifted to lead worship in song), experimentation, giving something a try and honest feedback, people we trust telling us whether they saw God using what we were doing
So in summary we have thought that to lay the foundations of a healthy expression of the Body of Christ we have to start by
- DEVELOPING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO OURSELVES
- DEVELOPING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO OTHERS
- DEVELOPING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO GIFTS
Now if we do that what kind of community emerges from people who have those attitudes to those things?
I would say those attitudes give us a picture of Church as a a Community Of
- ACCEPTANCE ( so we need humility about ourselves. Church then help us as humans to answer the Identity Question: Who Am I? )
- BELONGING ( so we need to be committed to each other. Church helps us answer as humans the Belonging Question: Where Do I Belong? )
- PURPOSE ( so we need to have a ministry through which we can use our gifts. Church helps us answer as humans, the Purpose Question: What Am I Here For? )
The Body of Christ is where I discover who I really am, who I really belong to and what I am really here for?
So how is your church doing judged by these characteristics
- Are people made to feel accepted?
- Do people feel like they really belong?
- Are people enabled and empowered to do significant things ?