I wonder how many fruitless discussions have been held on the subject of spiritual gifts. Do you know where to find the main teaching passages on spiritual gifts in the New Testament? (Answer – Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4) The book of Acts provides historical narrative as to the history of the early church and throughout its pages you find evidence of the Spirit’s gifting of Christ-followers.
My favourite passage on the topic is 1 Peter 4:10-12. Peter provides the basics yet in a comprehensive way so that those who have experienced God’s SAVING Grace may now administer God’s SERVING Grace.
“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in it various forms.”
1) Every believer has had least one gift. There is no teaching here or elsewhere to indicate that all believers have identical gifts. According to 1 Corinthians 12:13 all believers have been baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit, but this is not referring to gifting.
2) The gift(s) we have received are not for our own self-promotion. Spiritual gifts and their ‘pursuit’ have generated a fair share of controversy in various countries. The equipment (gift) I have received from God has been entrusted to me to serve others.
3) Using my gift(s) allows me to be an administrator of God’s multi-faceted grace. God’s grace is ‘multi-coloured,’ ‘multi-faceted,’ and churches (gatherings of God’s children) become channels of His grace both to believers and unbelievers. The ‘others’ here appears to have no limitation on its definition. Only Christians have spiritual gifts, granted by the Spirit of God upon conversion to Jesus Christ. But there are plenty of opportunities to impact others as tools in the hands of the Master.
Peter now provides more ‘details’ as he delineates “SPEAKING” and “SERVING” gifts.
“If anyone SPEAKS (emphasis mine), he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.”
Speaking gifts would include encouragement, exhortation, teaching, leadership, to name a few. When one speaks, regardless of the audience ‘size,’ he should speak God’s words. Christians are not called to be ‘orginators’ of truth…we have TRUTH settled for us in God’s word. Innovation in delivering the message is one thing, tampering with the message is a serious danger!
“If anyone SERVES (emphasis mine), he should do it with the strength God provides,….”
Serving gifts would include showing mercy, giving, serving, to provide a few examples. When one serves, again regardless of the ‘size’ of audience, he should depend upon God’s provided strength if the service is to be effective.
The temptation for speakers is simply to speak our own thoughts, our own ideas and not accurately represent the God who has spoken. The temptation for servers is simply to serve in our own strength, something anyone, regardless of ‘spiritual’ status does quite normally.
Speaking God’s words and serving with God’s strength is done purposefully, “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
God is praised through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the head of His body, the church, the place designed for spiritually gifted individuals to function. Gifts granted by God and used for God result in praise, glory and power being ascribed to the One who is worthy of it all!
It’s unfortunate that many discussions on spiritual gifts are ‘fruitless’ rather than ‘fruit-filled’ (Galatians 5:22,23). May God enable each of us who know Jesus Christ to discover and use all of our gifts for His glory!
(The word for ‘various’ is the word portraying the diversity of colours produced when white light is passed through a prism–hence the image which accompanies this post.) God longs to shine His light of GRACE through our lives so that others may benefit. I trust we are not blocking that light by quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit of God.