Monday, January 18, 2010

Using God’s Gifts 1 Peter 4:10-11

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (NASB)

God has given me a gift. The NIV says “whatever gift.” The first thing I think about is the various gifts that are mentioned in the Bible. In Matt 25:14-15 Jesus tells a parable about a man who gave monetary gifts to three servants. Each received a different amount. By comparison, the first received five times the last. The same applies to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. No one receives the exact same gifts. Just as each person’s DNA is different for every other person, the Holy Spirit has given me gifts that are different from every other person. Rom 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. (NIV)

I think it is a big mistake for anyone to believe a motivational speaker who claims that we can do great things just as Moses did, if we will only let God use us. It was clear in the O.T. that God chose Moses to do a specific job. Some of the Israelites must have heard the same motivational-you-can-do-anything speaker and decided that they could also lead Israel. In Numbers 16 the story is told how Korah and 250 men decided that they had the same gifts as Moses and Aaron. The scary part is that they really thought God had gifted them the same as Moses. God killed them all. The only thing that can come of this kind of you-can-do-anything reasoning is jealousy, guilt over failure, and/or a destroyed ministry.

Attitude is everything. Since I know I have a gift, the verse says that I should use it to serve other as a good steward of that gift. Instead of wondering what great things I can do in Jesus’ name. I should be concerned about serving others. If God is going to make that into ministry that saves millions or He makes that into a ministry that cleans the kitchen, both are pleasing to God. The parable of the gifts reveals the heart of God. In Matt 25:16-30 the story is completed when the Master returns and rewards the two servants for using their gifts but punishes the one who didn’t use his gift. The rewards were the same for the two even though their gifts and results were different.

The importance of using the gifts is emphasized in 1 Pet 4:11. The astounding statement is made that a person gifted with speaking should do it as if God is speaking through him. With crazy people claiming to speak for God as well as nationally known evangelist, how can a person take this verse seriously? It can only be done through humility. When a person becomes proud in doing God’s work, using God’s gift, God is no longer in it. Sure, some good things can still happen in that ministry, but good things can happen in a totally secular ministry as well.

Whether speaking or serving, the incredible knowledge that it is God doing the work and not me should keep me from becoming proud or thinking that I should be doing something greater than He has ordained. I should be depending 100% on His strength to complete the work whether it is speaking to millions or one person. Whether it is cleaning a toilet bowl or painting a majestic mural of the Last Supper. It also takes prayer, a good grasp of God’s Word, and other godly people to discern where He is leading.

God’s grace is manifold. That means having many forms or applications. He knows what He is doing and has orchestrated this world and the gifts given to people in it to accomplish His will. I am to participate willingly with the correct attitude, not trying on my own to do more or less than what He wants. When that happens I’ll be doing it for the glory of God though Jesus.

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