It is hard to believe that another week has come and gone. As I sit here preparing for my next staff meeting, I am overwhelmed at how good God is. I have studied the subject of spiritual gifts before, on several different occasions, but it is like is God is speaking to me in a fresh way, all over again. That is what I love about the Word of God, It is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword. This is the 3rd lesson on the subject of Understanding Spiritual gifts and before we dive in, I would like to link to the previous 3 lessons for anyone who has not already had the chance to read them.
- Understanding Spiritual Gifts: An overview
- Understanding Spiritual Gifts: the giving of the gifts
- Understanding the Spiritual Gifts in Corinth
Here are a few general principles of what we have learned so far about Spiritual Gifts.
- God gives them to us when we receive the Holy Spirit upon salvation.
- The Spirit chooses what gift you receive.
- Christ provides the Ministry in the church where you serve according to your gift.
- Christ places us in the body according to our gift(s).
- The gifts are given for the common good, to serve one another and not yourself.
- When used properly, sinners repent, receive the Holy Spirit and also at least one spiritual gift.
- The process of training begins in the Word of God to determine what gift you have and how to use it.
- You serve according to the gift and the cycle begins to repeat.
- God is glorified when the gifts are used properly.
- The ministry grows when the gifts are used properly.
In this lesson, we are going to learn some new truths about Spiritual Gifts as well as review some that we have already covered. By examining the gifts in the Roman church, we will learn much about our attitude toward our gifts and others as well as look at a practical example of a man who served according to his gift. I am excited to dig in.
Before we begin, there are several passages of Scripture that you need to read in order to be familiar with the points covered in the article. Here are the passages in the order covered.
I. Commitment to Training
In order to get a proper understanding of what Paul is talking about in Romans 12:1-2, which these verses fall in the context of spiritual gifts, I would like to take a look at Acts 2 to see the idea of total commitment leading to training, which opened the door for spiritual growth and the proper employment of the spiritual gifts. In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit comes upon the believers and they begin to share the Gospel with all who will listen. People are very interested and so Peter takes his stand and uses his speaking gift to preach the Gospel about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, telling the audience that this all happened according to God’s plan because of their sin. They were heavily convicted and wanted to know what to do. Peter tells them to commit totally to the Lord Jesus Christ and His will and that they will be saved. About 3,000 people make this decision on the spot and are baptized publicly, showing their complete surrender to the will of God. They all receive the Holy Spirit and the gifts that accompany Him. They need to be trained so that they can know what their gifts are and how to use them properly. In order for this to happen, the apostles meet with them daily and teach them God’s Word. As a result, they begin to serve according to their gifts and God adds to the number of believers daily. So, the pattern is set; total commitment to the will of God followed by intense training which leads to service. This is the same message that we see in Romans 12. Paul tells the believers in Rome that in order to understand and employ your spiritual gifts, there must be a total commitment to the will of God. You have to offer your body as a living sacrifice daily, giving up your will so that you can focus on living out the will of God. Once this takes place, then the intense training begins. You devote yourself to having your mind renewed daily through the Word of God so that you will not be conformed to the ways of thinking of the world and you will be trained to know God’s pleasing and perfect will and want to live it out over your own will. Until this takes place, you cannot properly employ your spiritual gift for the common good and the glory of God. Have you made this kind of commitment? Are you training daily in God’s Word so that you can discover His will and accept It over your own? How are you preparing yourself to serve according to your spiritual gift?
II. Gifts and Employment
Now that you are on the right track, rejecting your will and accepting God’s daily, renewing your mind through His Word, you need to know the gifts and how to employ them properly. According to Romans 12:3-8, we discover more of the spiritual gifts. Let’s list them out along with the other ones that we have learned so far on this topic: (the old ones are italicized)
- Speaking Gifts
- prophecy (preaching God’s Word)
- word of wisdom
- word of knowledge
- interpretation of languages
- Serving Gifts
- distinguishing of spirits
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, having received the Holy Spirit upon salvation then you have at least one of the above mentioned 20 gifts. You may have just speaking gifts, just serving gifts, or a combination of the two. You do not have all of them and you did not choose what you received. The gifts were given to you by God’s will and not your own. Now, how are you to employ the gifts? Paul teaches us in Romans 12. First of all, my attitude should be one of unity. I have been given a gift to fit into the body and serve the entire body. I am not to think more highly of myself or the gift that I have received than anyone else in the body because God is the One who has placed us here, as we are. There is no room for pride or looking down on each other because we all need each other in order to function properly. God has provided a ministry specifically for your gift. You job and my job is to practice our gifts, employ our gifts, exercise our gifts in the right ministry. If we have the gift employed in the wrong ministry then we will be miserable, the people whom we serve will be miserable, and the ministry will be hindered. Do you know what your gift is? Are you serving according to your gift? Do you have the right attitude about your gift and ministry? Do you realize it is not your gift or your ministry? You were given the gift and God provides the ministry and produces the results. You really have nothing to boast about. Your job is to know your gift and serve accordingly, giving all glory to the One who gave the gift to you. What does this look like practically? Has God given us some practical examples of people serving according to their gifts? What were the results?
III. Practical Example
This final section will cover the practical example that we find in a man named Joseph. The name “Joseph” literally means “the Lord has added”. It might be a stretch but this man seems to have the gift of giving, although it is not his dominant gift. His dominant gift is encouragement. In fact, the gift of encouragement was so evident that the apostles literally changed the man’s name from Joseph to Barnabas which means “the son of ENCOURAGEMENT”. Everyone around him saw the gift in action. Barnabas was probably there in Acts 2 and got saved, receiving the Holy Spirit and began the intense training in the Word to discover his gift and employ it properly. When he saw a need, he immediately did what he could to help. He sold a piece of land and gave the money to encourage the apostles to continue doing what they were doing. The ministry continued to prosper and flourish. Later, after Paul had come to Christ and been transformed, while everyone else was afraid of him, Barnabas reached out to him and took him under his wing to encourage him. When the brethren in Jerusalem would not accept Paul, Barnabas took his stand and encouraged them to give him (Paul) a chance. They did and Paul was able to preach and teach the Gospel freely in Jerusalem. The ministry continued to grow because Barnabas served according to his gift. He employed his gift in the church serving others and God was glorified. Later, Paul and Barnabas want to go and encourage all of the churches that had been planted on Paul’s previous missionary trip so they set out to visit them. Before leaving, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark, a man who had gone with Paul before but had deserted the ministry at a critical moment. Paul did not see redemption as a possibility for John Mark and did not want to give him a second chance. This angered Barnabas and so he did offer John Mark a second chance, choosing to separate from Paul. Even though they parted, the ministry continued and the churches were visited and blessed and the ministry continued to grow. Barnabas restored John Mark in the ministry and we see Paul actually calling for John Mark as he (Paul) is in prison awaiting execution. When a person employs his gift in serving others, people are encouraged to continue on serving according to their gifts as well. The believers are built up, the ministry grows, and God is glorified. Are you serving the way that Barnabas did? Do you know your gift? Are you using it for the good of others, to build others up so that the ministry can grow and God can be glorified? May the Lord help us learn our gifts and employ them for His glory, serving the body of Christ.