Spiritual Gifts, pt. 1
“Service after Surrender”
This statue of Jesus [see powerpoint, above] is outside a church in San Diego. Vandals broke off the hands years ago. A plaque reads, "I have no hands but yours."
That is the truth that is being taught in Rom. 12.
When Jesus was here on earth, He ministered in a physical body…but since He has returned to heaven, He has ministered thru a spiritual body…the body of Christ…the Church!
v. 5 “members”=body parts! He has no hands but ours!/feet/voice
Ever gone out for a team, and had to wait for names of those who made it to be posted? Brutal! Just like waiting for test results from Dr.! What will the test show?
I played football, can you believe it? We got to request numbers, and I wanted 32, but had to wait to see if I got it. And, the big question on all our minds was, what position do I get to play? We all wanted to have a position that got the most attention, the glory, the focus…that’s just the way us boys are! So we all wanted to be quarterback, running back, or wide receiver…but I played end, guard, and tackle (sit on end of bench, guard water, tackle anyone who gets near it!) Actually, I was a kicker!
The first question a new believer should ask is, Lord, what position do I get to play? Even mature Christians making a new start, and there are several like that here, should ask that question. Lord, what can I do to further the cause of Christ? And there's no waiting to find out what your position will be!
Not every member in the church will have an office or a title, but each one…young/old, new/30 yrs…has a spirit-given ability that will make them distinctly qualified to minister somehow to the body of Christ.
Have you been saved?…Say amen. The Bible says God imparted to you spiritual gifts for service at that moment of salvation…and exercising that gift is your job from then on…it’s your God-ordained function to fulfil!
And our first obligation to the Lord is complete surrender! That’s why vv. 1-2 are attached to 3-8. God cannot use us in the body of Christ until we make a complete surrender of our gifts to Him.
v. 1 This is the language of the OT priesthood. The priest would make a “drink offering”…they would make a certain mixture and pour it upon the altar. Which is what we are to do w/ our life…lay it on the altar.
v. 2 Don’t allow your life to be poured into the world’s mold. Our goal is not to be a weird-o, just not to be like the world…and the closer we move to the end of the world, the more a true, separated believer will be thought of as radically different. [two left thumbs/different drum]
That’s why the media refers to us as the radical right wing…they don’t mean it as a compliment…but we should take it that way!
v. 2 Salvation begins as an inside job. We will never change outwardly for real until we change inwardly. Your behavior will not be altered unless your thinking has been altered. Your appearance won’t be one that will glorify God and draw others to Him until there’s a change beneath the surface. And that’s what we should focus on here. We don’t try to impose a certain look on people…what you see is a reflection of what they are on the inside…so we do well to focus on the inner man.
It will do us no good at all to deal w/ spiritual gifts…to think about what our gifts are, until we have grappled w/ this issue of complete surrender.
Because surrender and service always go together. The 2 cannot be separated. It’s impossible to be surrendered to God, and not be busy serving Him. You cannot be a living sacrifice, and be lazy and indifferent toward the ministry of the church. Talk is cheap. We can talk about total dedication, radical separation, inner transformation, but the proof is in the pudding. If it doesn’t lead you to service, to have a ministry, then it isn’t real! Worship should lead us to service…devotion should lead us to our duty! (it’s possible to have the latter w/out the former, but not vice-versa! Martha worked, Mary worshiped…and worked)
We all have spiritual gifts, given to us at salvation. You can take a test and know yours, theoretically. But don’t expect to know for sure what yours are until you have surrendered to use them in His service, no matter what.
After vv. 1-2 comes 6 verses about spiritual gifts. This passage of scripture utterly destroys the idea that a Christian can be committed to Christ but not active in church/love the Lord, but not obey Him! [I love Jesus, just not the church]
We all have different gifts, but our obligation is the same: to be faithful to use our gifts for the glory of the One Who gave them to us.
v. 3 “every man”
v. 4 “all members”
v. 5 “every one”
The Lord makes it abundantly clear that we are all under the same obligation. No one is excluded from serving God w/ their gifts!
One more thing before we begin looking at the gifts specifically:
v. 3 the importance of humility. There is a temptation to take pride in our gifts, and to compare them w/ the gifts of others. We must resist that, and humbly seek out our gifts.
We hear a lot about low self esteem, and I know it is a real problem suffered by some…but the Bible says man’s main problem is not thinking too low of himself, but too highly! (Pride)
True humility will help us avoid:
Magnifying our gift (feel valuable, indispensible, deserve special recognition, my opinion matters most) This person feels like they don’t need the other parts of the body.
Parallel passage in I Cor. 12
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
Have you thanked God for your pancreas today? You may not think much of it, but if it quits, you’re in trouble! How about your stomach?
Ill.—sick, try to eat and drink…whole body participates in the effort: eyes see the food/feet carry you to it/hands reach out and take it/mouth chews the food/food hits stomach, which is to digest the food…but it says, not today, I’m off! And up it comes!
Don’t magnify your gift…God will raise up someone else w/ the same gift, but w/out the pride.
We need each other, don’t magnify your gift…
Have you ever thought about what it would be like if the members of our physical bodies behaved like the members of the spiritual body sometimes do?
HEART - "You know, I’m just stuck in a rut. For the last 49 years all I do is beat and beat. Lub, dub... lub, dub... lub, dub... I’m tired of it. It’s time for someone else to step up and do this job. Okay, feet, it’s up to you. You pump the blood.
LUNGS: We are so under-appreciated around here. I don’t think the other organs realize that they couldn’t do their jobs without us. If we quit doing our job for a few minutes, everyone will finally see how valuable we are to this place. The brain thinks he’s big stuff. Humph! Let him do without some oxygen for a while and we’ll see how important he is!
LIVER: "Why do I get all the dirty work? You think it’s fun making bile? I’ve been in this body for 49 years now and do you think anyone has ever asked me to make any decisions, pump any blood, or perform any functions that are noticeable outside the body? Sometimes I wonder why I bother."
APPENDIX - "Ha! Just watch the rest of those organs work. Day after day, hour after hour, they work themselves do death. I’m just along for the ride. Why contribute when I can just sit here and get the same nutrients and oxygen that they get? Why get involved?"
There are no unimportant parts -- except the appendix. Don’t be an appendix in your church.
Don’t Minimize your gift
This person constantly belittles themselves, which is false-humility, a form of pride!
Some people do this because they are fishing for compliments: (After church to my wife one Sunday afternoon: “Honey, how many truly great preachers do you think there are in this world?…” She answered, "Probably one less than you think!")
Some people minimize their gift to get out of using it! Some genuinely think they cannot be used.
Ill.—you may be the big toe in the body of Christ (not the pretty eyes, lovely voice, or flowing hair), but we need you, our equilibrium will be off w/ out you…we’ll have no balance.
You may find your gift is not as public as someone on the platform, it may be behind the scenes, but don’t minimize the importance of it, or you insult your God Who gave it to you!
Ill.—menial tasks I did early in the ministry (janitorial, clean baptistery, change sign)
I would get a bad attitude…a case of stinkin’ thinkin’…I needed a check-up from the neck up! Not only did the pastor not do that kind of work, he would criticize how I did it… “Why’d you put that on the sign?”
I said, sorry, you’re right…but on the inside I said, shut up and do it yourself! Then I’d hear how blessed someone was by the sign, and I’d say, “little is much when God is in it!…”
And though unappreciated, a clean restroom may keep visitors returning until they get saved!
Thirdly, humility will keep us from misplacing our gift
This person tries to be used in an area in which they’re not gifted. They want to sing or teach, and feel they have the gift, but no one has the gift of listening to them!
Jealousy is the root cause, many times, as people want a more public gift than they have.
Ill.—as a music director, I’ve had people threaten to leave the church because I wouldn’t let them sing…but never if I wouldn’t let them drive a bus, go on visitation, attend a work day, or work in the nursery!
We need to decide if we are working for the glory of God or the praise of men.
Ill.—God did me a favor when he sent me to my first church as an assistant/work under a man who didn’t appreciate me/I did grueling work behind the scenes and never got a kick in the pants, much less a pat on the back…I had to decide very early Who I was doing this for!
Some accidentally misplace their gift. They were asked to help, they were willing, they got the job…but they end up frustrated if they’re not supposed to be there. You'll be happiest and work the best in the right area.
Yes, true humility will keep us from magnifying/minimizing/misplacing our gifts.
v. 3 the word “soberly” means “sane”…the opposite of insane.
Ill.—man visited insane asylum/100 inmates and 1 guard/visitor asked guard, “Aren’t you afraid they will get together and overtake you?”/no/why not?/because lunatics never get together!
This describes many churches today. Oh what we could do if we were all pulling together in the same direction!
God has given this church a couple of precious gifts:
Unity and Diversity
We all need to focus clearly on who we are, why God left us here, and what gifts He’s given us, then we need to get together, put it all together, diverse body parts…all put together into the body of Christ! He has no hands but ours!
Come back on Sunday nights for the next several weeks (learn each gift in detail, not just your own, but learn about others and how they think! [charts] Or, how they don't! We can grow to appreciate one another better.)
“Gift-projection”. This happens when you expect other people to have your gift, do things as you do them and to feel the same way you do about a subject with the same passion. This just isn’t going to happen.
Whatever gifts you have, whether public or not, prominent or not, whether you’re an eye or a big toe, be prepared to use your gifts for the glory of God!
Spiritual gifts are given at the moment of salvation. Have you been saved? The first spiritual gift God wants you to have is the gift of eternal life.
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