In this sermon, Pastor Joe Babij finishes examining 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 to show how all Christians are called to minister. In Part 2, Pastor Babij explains the second primary reason Christians stifle spiritual gifts: a superiority complex in which believers feel they do not need others. Pastor Babij further explains the wisdom of God’s design for the church and then asks believers to consider what their own gifts are and how they can use them in the church.
I’ll be looking at finishing this morning as we’re considering the topic of the church and how spiritual gifts work in the church and how the church body is supposed to work, all recorded here in Scripture. Not many people really get the church and what the church is all about. Unless we come to the Word of God and find out what it says there, we’ll usually miss it. So the Word of God has to get us back on track.
So we’re looking at 1 Corinthians chapter 12. We’re specifically looking at verses 21 to 27 this morning. But just by way of recapitulation, I said last time that the church is really the visible body of Christ on earth. The local churches are hands to do His work, feet to run upon His errands, and a voice to speak for Him. And as His body, the church should exhibit Christ to the world until He comes, until He returns. The apostle Paul draws a picture in this section of Scripture of unity which exists inside the church if it is to fill its proper function in the world.
The human body is the analogy that he uses, and it reminds us that certain things need to exist within a healthy body. A body is healthy and is efficient only when each part is functioning consistently and in a proper way. Also the parts of the body are not to be jealous of each other or covet each other’s functions or remain ignorant of what they are to do. The body is supposed to work as a unity and not in competition with one another. And inside our own body, if we have competition in our body, we have problems, usually health problems. So all spiritual gifts that are given to God’s church, the body of Christ, have a common origin and function within a common organism, for as we read in Scripture, for a common good – that is to build up and edify the body, bring glory to Christ, and get the gospel to those who have not yet heard it.
So when the apostle Paul speaks about the spiritual gifts, he does so with an analogy of the body, in particular Christ’s body, the church. Jesus Christ continues to be living in His church. He’s in a spiritual relationship with His church, and all spiritual life and power of the church are drawn from Christ who is the head of the church. Jesus Christ is sovereign over the body, the church. It is He who is the source of its life, its chief, its leader. He is the one who guides and governs it and protects it. And even though the gates of hell will kick against it and try to take it down, that will not happen because Christ is the one in charge and Christ is the victor, and all those who are in Christ are on the victory side. We’re winners already in the spiritual battle for the soul.
Last time, I looked at several of the points. The first one would be that the church body is one organic whole, found in verses 12 and 13 of chapter 12, where it says,
For just as the body is one and yet has many member, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
If you notice there, the term one is used all throughout those two verses, meaning that the church is one organic whole and yet has various parts that perform widely different functions within a unity. Just as there is unity in the midst of diversity that pervades the physical body, all kinds of things going on in our body at once, we don’t even recognize them, taking place all the time in our body. And if they cease to take place, we have problems. And if they completely stop taking place, then of course the lights go out. So there is a unity in the midst of diversity which pervades the physical body. It is also characteristic of the spiritual body, the church. The outward formation of the body, I mentioned last time, for by one spirit we were baptized into one body. That’s how people actually get saved. They hear the gospel. They respond to the gospel. The Spirit of God baptizes them into the body of Christ, the church. And on that effectual calling, they become Christians.
And as the text says in the phrases whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, it means that not one single person in Christ is excluded from being part of the spiritual body, the church. It doesn’t matter what religious background they were saved out of. It doesn’t matter what racial background they were saved out of. It doesn’t matter which social stratum they were saved out of, whether slave or free. Again, the only prerequisite for becoming part of the body of Christ is a genuine faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. And if somebody does become a believer, they will continue on to walk the Christian life.
So the second part of that would be the inner life of the church in verse 13, that we were all made to drink of one Spirit, that the Spirit of God is doing something else as He’s performing the baptismal act, putting us into the body of Christ. He comes to indwell believers. The doctrine of the indwelling Spirit of God is that He comes to dwell permanently in the individual Christian at the time of conversion. From that point, the job of the Spirit of God is to sanctify you, to make you more and more like Jesus Christ and then also to make you usable in the church. If God’s left you here, He’s got something for you to do. So then the third person of the holy trinity, the Holy Spirit, lives His life in the various members of the body. The visible evidences of that life is manifested through spiritual gifts. Of course, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are forming the church. They’re all involved.
Second point that I made last time is that the church body is a unit yet with many members. It says in verse 14,
For the body is not one member, but many.
And each member of this body has a part in that they function within that body. That means that each part has a responsibility that can’t be handled better than that particular person that God has given the Spirit to. Yet it remains the unit. It’s to remain unified. That’s part of our job too as believers, to make sure that it stays unified.
There’s two primary reasons why some Christians never become involved in serving in the local church and using their spiritual gift. The last time I mentioned that the first one is because of an inferiority complex, that some feel that they have no gifts or abilities that are worthy. So they sit back and let others do the work. These are described in the passage I mentioned last time in chapter 12 verses 15 through 17, but they’re really missing a blessing when they’re not part of serving. And then a second group is those who have a superiority complex, so others feel that they’re so highly qualified that they don’t really need the help of others to perform their ministry.
Now both of these groups are are really committing the sin of pride. One thinks that they can’t do it when God says I’ve given you a gift to actually use. So you have the problem and the problem is sin of pride. The other one, of course, is looking down at people thinking that you’re better than them. Therefore that doesn’t help the church either. So one said that they don’t need me while the other says I don’t need them. And others would say I don’t have a gift or I have a second rate gift. Then others would say it doesn’t matter because I’m so unimportant. They’re all self-centered type of responses. Paul’s trying to communicate to the church that those things would not be there. Then he mentions the inferiority complex, using the foot and then the ear.
Then he gives us some guidelines on making sure how to avoid the inferiority complex. He does that in verses 17 onward to verse 20, where he says listen, first there’s no individual part in the body equal to the whole. That means that no organism can survive where only one member is involved, no matter how prominent that member would be. A second thing would be no individual chooses themselves where they are placed in the body. It says in verse 18 that God has placed the members in the body. So it’s God’s choice. So there’s a submission to God in what God is doing in bringing together the church. Thirdly, if there’s no variety, there’s nobody. It’s absurd to think of a body with only one member. As I said last time, then that would just be a blob. It wouldn’t be a body. And then fourthly, there’s plurality, there’s diversity, but there’s unity. But now there are many members but one body.
So it’s the same point that Paul is really driving home throughout these different passages of Scripture in a different way, just getting people to understand the church and the gifts and abilities and capabilities God’s given to His people. Few gifts are showy. Most are not. And yet all are needed for the body life to exist and continue as a unity.
So this Lord’s day, I really want to take a look at the second group and some other things about those who have a superiority complex. Those with a superiority complex really think too highly of themselves and their spiritual gift. And so the passage from last week taught us to consider the danger of underestimating one’s importance in the church. Now we are cautioned to focus upon the danger of overestimating one’s importance in the body. Both are wrong, both our sinful. Both are not helpful. So this next group of Scriptures, the more visible gifts are considered because these often enjoy greater importance.
Now before I look at that, let’s have a word of prayer. Father, this morning I thank You for bringing us together. Thank You Lord, for just the great opportunities that You give us as believers. Thank You for the knowledge that we have of what You’re doing from the word of God. Lord today, give us a greater understanding of the local church and of the people that are part of it, that we can function as You intended. So Lord, You get the glory. The church gets help for growth. And we become people that are definitely being used by the Spirit of God to do the work of God. And I pray this today in Christ’s name. Amen.
So the third thing is that the church body is a unit yet with many members which need each other. In verse 21, notice what it says,
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
So here we have a dependence of the more prominent members of the church. The eye and the head refer to the members in the body that are superior to the hand and the foot because the eye’s function in the body is more important and more prominent than the hand. The head also functions with a complex task within the body. In practicality, it is the body’s computer. Therefore, it has a more exalted position than the foot. That is true. But what would the eye be without the hands? It would be less than what it could be. There would be no eye hand coordination. Or what would the head be without the foot? It would not be able to transport itself from one place to another. In fact, both the eyes and the head’s function would be greatly curtailed without the full function of the hand and the foot.
And I say that for this reason. There’s always a danger in the church for any person stepping into the spotlight – people who are very gifted, anyone teaching and leading being in front of people, people that are more visible. The tendency is, if one is not careful, to begin to look down on abilities and gifts that do not gain as much as human acknowledge. I’ve seen it over again actually since being in the ministry. Usually it is the young gifted person, able and they know it. They are given some prominence in the church or recognition in the church, even some authority, and some of the people respond to their ability. And before you know it, they make themselves the center of attention. They develop an inflated view of their importance and begin to use their gift without love and without understanding of how the church body actually works. They function in an unbalanced way. And if not checked, admonished, and even rebuked, it will lead to infighting and schisms and cliques and factions and divisions in the church body.
This is an immature and a fleshly way of how the church is to be done. It does not lead to edification. It does not lead to spiritual maturity. In fact, in other passages, the apostle Paul warned immature Christians at Corinth that they weren’t looking at themselves as servants of Christ and God’s fellow workers, because their fleshly view of the church was causing jealousy and strife in the body. In fact, take your Bible and turn back to 1 Corinthians chapter 3. Look at verse number one. He says there in that passage,
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed even now you are not able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking as mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another says, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?
So again, people gravitating to people that may be more gifted like Apollos was, like Paul was, and yet not realizing that they’re just people that God gifted in a particular way for the health and the growth of the church. They’re not to be idolized. They’re not to be lifted up. They’re to be fit within the balance of a healthy body, the church. In fact, the apostle Paul again told young Timothy, who was going to pastor the church at Ephesus, and warned Timothy not to ordain new converts to leadership, to the office of elder, because of their spiritual immaturity, so that they would not become proud, and they would not be given over to the devil to bring them down. This is what he says in 1 Timothy 3:6,
and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into condemnation incurred by the devil.
So along with the Holy Spirit bestowed giftedness that He gives the people of the church, Philippians 2:3-4 always holds true, always holds true. And it shows one walking in the flesh and then one walking in the Spirit. And this is what it says,
Do nothing from selfishness and empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interest, but also for the interests of others.
If that was taking place, you would have no problems, but that should be taking place in the church. And when it does, everybody functions in the place that God has given him with the gifts he’s given them in the measure of the gifts He’s given them, and even the visibility and prominence He has given them in a very unified way, where everybody gets built up. If it’s not happening like that, then what happens is divisions coming to the church.
So the bottom line is this – whatever gifts God has given you, whether they are quiet and behind the scene gifts and abilities, or they are more grand and visible, no one has the privilege to act alone. No one does. But our duty before God is to cooperate with all the other gifted Christians in the body with humility of mind so that the whole church body remains unified and edified. That is the responsibility of every single one of us. Every single one of us, that the church is interdependent on one another, as it says in 1 Corinthians 12:21,
And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again, the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
Cannot say would be to be not truthful. All right, cannot say and be truthful. They cannot say and be truthful. So the superior organs need the inferior ones, the eye, the hand, the head, the feet. We all need each other. And that is the goal. Just in case we are not getting that, Paul continues to drive home the point in verse number 22 of 1 Corinthians 12. He says this also, that those weaker are necessary, that the delicate organs, the invisible organs, are necessary. He says,
On the contrary, it is much true that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;
To the prideful ones in the church, they will think the feeble are unnecessary. They seem so, but they really are not. We can live and we can get along with some parts of the body, but the more hidden parts, the internal organs, the heart, the liver, the lungs, the stomach, are more vital. The less noticed parts seem to be weaker, but they actually are not. The sensitive internal organs, like the lungs and the stomach, are totally hidden from sight. And yet, they are absolutely vital for supporting life. Absolutely vital. If we translate that really into the church, we need those who are faithful in private prayer, those who are doing administration behind the scenes, those people in the church who are sending a card to someone to encourage them, and nobody else knows about it. But God knows about it. In the context of their spiritual gifts, they’re using it. Or picking up a person for church, or taking someone to a doctor’s appointment, silently and sacrificially giving, someone who’s cleaning, someone who is ushering and greeting, someone who is working in the nursery, someone who is doing the sound and the audiovisual, or maintaining the website behind the scene when nobody really knows that they’re actually doing that, until the website goes down and everybody’s calling you – I can’t get online. Those who prepare and perform music. The sound team gets up here and there’s people doing the music, but you don’t realize they’re picking the music out. They’re making sure it’s theologically good. Then they’re practicing it. They’re practicing it at home, and then they come on Sunday morning so we can be encouraged by their particular giftedness God has given them to encourage the body through song. See that’s all important, and we all need to be a part of it.
So those who have been given by God non-visible gifts but serving gifts are absolutely necessary in the church. If they weren’t doing their job, then there’s no reason for me to be up here or David to be doing Sunday school. There would be nobody. We just be doing everything, and that’s not the point of the body. We’re doing what we’re supposed to do. You’re doing what you’re supposed to do.
And then Paul brings up another thing in verse number 23. He says the less honorable are needed, and those members of the body which deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor. So Paul includes himself, we think to be less honorable.
We bestow more honor, that means to give special attention to, that the parts of the body that are not especially attractive, probably the torso, the parts that we hang clothes on – the trunk, the hip, the shoulders, the legs. And he says here we bestow. Actually it’s the word that literally means to put around, to put on, and of course here to cloth. We spend more time clothing these parts and buying clothes to cloth these parts. So we bestow more honor on them by doing that. We adorn these parts to make them more attractive. See, we need those in the church that are the laborers, the helpers, the servers, the givers, and those who do all the behind the scenes tasks.
Paul goes on and drives it home again. And he says in verse 23,
and the uncomely parts are needed.
and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness.
He means that the parts that cannot be shown or the unpresentable parts, he is talking about there. We actually give the ones that are unhonored and insignificant in some way. These are the private parts. Of course, decent and civilized people hide completely because they are unpresentable and indecent.
So the lesson of these verses remind us that the usual procedure we will all take with our human bodies is to take the behind-the-scenes part and dedicate special effort and awareness to them. So we need to take the same careful approach with those possessing gifts that are not as visible and gifts given by God that are of less measure in the church. One thing that is definitely clear is that we should never look down at someone else who is less gifted, but instead devote ourselves to the well-being and the spiritual health of those who are not so well equipped.
And that’s why he said is that whereas our seemly members have no need of it. It is more attractive and a functional part of the body that need no covering or adornment, all the parts of the body are working in unity and adjust to the need of each member needing more attention. And the attention that the assembly members. Those more visible and attractive, like the eye and the hand, need no special attention. But usually we give these more attention when the less gifted and not so well equipped need the attention, Paul is saying here. The apostle Paul counsels on needing each other and should cause us to really give up our self-sufficient legs so we can provide what we need to for the body.
Again, a reminder would be who is in charge and who designed it. And who designed all this? Look at verse 24. The church body is designed by God’s wisdom.
But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to the member that lacked,
So that is what God has done in forming the body. God is pictured as arranging and adjusting separate members of the body into a unit in such a way that every part stands in equal dependence on the rest. That means that God has composed the body with all its different kind of members and made it one harmonious mutually dependent whole, also taking care of the members that lack, meaning that the members of the body will not have any deficiency because of the divinely given honor that God bestows upon His church. God so fit the human body and the body of Christ together that the members function with an exact equality of balance. In other words, the gifted and not so gifted, God is the equalizer. Therefore, we should take care and respect what the Lord has done so unity abounds.
Now, that leads me to the next one and it’s that the church is a unit with many members which need to care and respect each other. That’s the goal for all of us. In verse 25,
that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care one for another.
Unity thrives when each of us understand what the other person’s function and gifts are and then hold that person with the highest importance because it’s God’s work. The purpose is to remove schism, to remove division in the body and have a mutual care that would abound toward every other single person in the church. And the word schism, here it means to split or to tear a cloth. And Paul is saying, listen, if we use our gifts properly, if we understand what they are and how they are used with other people and that God actually designed it this way and you should be satisfied with that, then watch out for divisions. Watch out for anybody who wants to tear that apart and cause disunity in the body. In fact, back in chapter 1 verse 10, Paul said this to the church right in the beginning of the book. He says,
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no division among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.
If any limb or any organ ceases to function in the body, it really throws out of whack the whole body. Divisions among Christians is not in line with divine intention. When there is jealousy, when there is envy, when there is strife, when there is a judgmental attitude, those things can never be attributed to the God’s will. It is not God’s will. When we make sure there’s no division, the church body has harmony. It has peace in her worship. It has joy in its fellowship. It has intimacy. And in His service, it has glory to God. We want God to receive the glory as God intended it be. So we all know that when there’s division that comes into our own body, there are problems.
Recently, we have been praying for myself on the prayer list that I had been having headaches, debilitating headaches, every single month. We prayed for months and months and months and months about that, and it seemed like no relief for me. Then my daughter Naomi was diagnosed with MS, and she had to go on a special diet. And we said, well why don’t we, myself and Jayne and Joshua and Vanessa, said, why don’t we do the same diet with her to encourage her. And it was the AIP diet, the autoimmune diet. So I started doing it. And, you know, a lot of salads, a lot of that kind of things. But, you know, over a month I didn’t have a headache. Two months, didn’t have a headache. Three months, didn’t have a headache. It’s four months and I haven’t had a headache. So God answered that prayer in a very unusual way. And yet, he brought health to my body, which I feel a lot better and I’m sleeping better because of that. I never thought of that. I never could think that that would be the answer, and it was the answer. You feel like when you get healthy, after being sick, that now unity comes back to your body and and there’s no more division in the body which causes you to feel downcast or weak or unable to do what you are used to do. And so that was encouraging.
Now translate that into the church too. The church sometimes does have schisms. Sometimes divisions do arise. Sometimes there are people that bring problems to the church. We need to develop a group of people that are discerning enough to be able to address those things, along with the elders and deacons, so we can remove division from the body so there is unity. So there is a harmony. So there is joy. So there is the peace of God that He’s given us, and no one could take away in the body, and that’s all our responsibility. So I do thank you for the ones who have prayed for me over those months for that. And I give glory to God for answering that prayer. And it’s been a lot nicer in my life to be able to not have those kind of headaches.
And then that brings me to verse 26, that the church body is a unit with many members which needs sympathy and rejoice with each other. Notice what it says in verse 26,
And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
So when the church members maintain a mutual care and respect for one another, the outcome of such a relationship is growing intimacy. If one in the body suffers, or is in some kind of pain, the whole church notices and does what is needed to mend that repair. On the other hand, if the member of the body is recognized in some way, recognized possibly for their usefulness in maintaining healthy growth, then joy permeates the whole congregation. We come alongside of people in their sorrow and also alongside people when they are being honored, they’re being recognized for what they’ve done. But the point is no rivalry or competition or envy or malice or no inferiority or superior complex should be part of the church, but sympathy, care, and love.
So when the church body is functioning in the Spirit and not the flesh, then the seventh thing should happen, that the church body ought to function as an efficiently running team. So far we have been focusing on the importance of body relationships and have examined the danger of underestimating one’s importance and contribution in the body, and then also examined the days of overestimating one’s importance and contribution in the body. And further, we also looked briefly at how compassion plays a role in the church body to prevent rips and tears among the members.
So when the church body, Christ’s body is understanding this and actually living this out, it maintains the unity that has already been given to the church by the Holy Spirit. In that unity, we’ll see an attitude of people needing one another. We’ll also see an affirmation of God’s sovereignty in the church, that God has done this. And then we will see an atmosphere of care and respect along with a desire to serve at the assigned task, whatever they may be. And then we would also see an abundance of rescue, of sympathy, of rejoicing with one another. So the whole application of the body analogy points toward us, Christ’s body, so today we can properly use our spiritual gifts within the structure and to the utmost benefit, that we use them to build up the body so the church can run efficiently.
Now in verse number 27, the apostle Paul says,
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
Paul doesn’t say, you ought to be Christ’s body, but you are. In other words, be what you are. Be what God called you to be. And then in doing that, when it’s running efficiently, jealousy and bitterness will not be present. Now in the case of the Corinthian church, jealousy and bitterness was really the rule, not the exception. But it became I’m sure the exception as they heeded the instruction of Paul to the church.
If you look at the second half of verse 27, you will notice that we are also individually made up separate parts of the body, that now you are Christ’s body and individually members of it. So within this unity, there are individuals. And this should keep us really humble, that we are just a small part of the whole. Yet each local group of believers has within itself sufficient gifts to operate in its own local church. Each has an assigned position, an assigned responsibility that differs from other parts within Christ’s body.
Now in saying all that, the question would have to be this – how do I discover my place of service in the church body? Well, we have to ask some questions. The first question should be, why should I serve? The reason why we serve, really Paul brings out in Romans 12:1 where he says,
I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
The reason, the reason why we serve is because of God’s mercies. God has given to you and I as believers something we never deserved. We never deserved salvation. We deserved God’s wrath, right? But God saw us in compassion, and he brought the gospel to us. He opened up our eyes and that is the motivation that we should all have for serving God. So the context of Romans 12 is a passion that calls Christians to a serious assessment of our spiritual gifts. Therefore, giving yourself to God as a living sacrifice because of the mercies of God is showing that you and I are committed to doing the will of God that He has ordained for you and I to do. Why? According to Jerry Bridges, writing on the true community in the church, says, because God’s will for us is consistent with His gifts to us. We may also say that a commitment to doing whatever God wants us to do is necessary in determining what our gifts are.
And then, what can I do to serve? What are my gifts and talents? In our membership class, I would ask the question – do you know your spiritual gift? And I was so surprised many years ago when people would say no. How long have you been a christian? Ten years. Ten years, you don’t know what your spiritual gift is. What have you been doing? He says, well I never heard about it. I never really got any instruction on it. Nobody ever challenged me to examine myself whether I had a spiritual gift or not. I’ve been serving in the church, but I just serve anywhere. It wasn’t that I identified any gift in myself to be able to serve. The Bible actually in four places gives us lists of spiritual gifts, in Romans 12, in 1 Corinthians 12 which we read, in Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4. In Peter, he says that in this gift category, there’s two categories of gifts. There’s speaking gifts, which could be, of course, preaching and teaching, exhortation, knowledge, and wisdom. And then there are service gifts. They’re the non-verbal gifts – serving, and giving, and leading, and mercy, and faith, and helps. It doesn’t mean you don’t speak with those gifts. It just means they’re usually not public. They’re usually done in all kinds of contexts within the church.
Some would say, well I have natural abilities and I’ve been using those natural abilities in the church. Aren’t those spiritual given by God? Yes, they are. But your natural abilities and your temperament should really be considered when thinking about what spiritual gift you have. However, natural abilities are not the same as spiritual gifts. Although it is true that spiritual gifts build on some of our abilities and temperaments and natural things God has given us, but a word of warning to that is that natural abilities and temperament are not always sure indicators of gifts. There’s some spiritual observations about spiritual gifts. One of them is that each believer has a spiritual gift and possibly more. Already in 1 Corinthians 12:7 it says,
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Another observation is that spiritual gifts are received at the moment of conversion. God gives you at least one gift. You find out as you mature more that maybe you have more than one gift. Also, a third observation is although all gifts are needed in the church, some are more important than others yet are to function in a harmonious unity, which I’ve been saying and Scripture has been showing. Another observation is to recognize that there are degrees of giftedness. Sometimes God has given a greater measure of a gift to another person than he does to someone else. We have to recognize that. Another observation is that some gifts were permanently given, whereas others are apparently temporary, being important only for the beginning or the foundation of the church. Once everything came together, some of those gifts in the sense passed away or are set aside by God. Another observation is that the believer controls the use of his or her gifts, and is therefore the one responsible for its use or nonuse.
Now, I’m saying this and giving this message for this reason – right before Covid, we were dealing with this stuff. We gave you out cards to see where would you like to serve in the church. And then once we started compiling some of that information, Covid hit and now we’re over a year and a half after that. So we have to reintroduce these things and and get everybody to at least think about where you are going to serve in the church body. So maybe during Covid, you took your gift and you put it on the shelf. Well, you need to take it back off the shelf. Or maybe you just got lost in all the confusion and all the stuff that they were saying about Covid and all these other things, and you got so afraid that you want to stay away from people. Well, maybe you need to rethink that too. I want you to be careful. I want you to take precautions, but God wants us to be together, right? He wants us to come together and we should do that in a responsible way. Maybe you were doing something before and haven’t seen you since the last year and a half. Maybe we need to come back and get now re-acclimated and reconnected to what God wants us to do. So if you put your gift on the shelf or if you’ve been away for a while, we need to come back and get together and start using our spiritual gifts.
Also another observation would be this, that like natural abilities, spiritual gifts can be developed and matured. They tend to be developed and matured. Also spiritual gifts can be used with wrong motives without love for others. And then spiritual gifts are not abilities to work really with some particular age group or some particular place of service, although that’s where it may be manifested.
So if you read through Scripture, you find out there are at least 9 permanent gifts that are actually still being used today, more than that. If we are to develop our gifts, we need to know what our gifts are. And what are they? One of them would be pastor teacher. The gift of a pastor teacher is the ability to shepherd the people of God. And really one with this gift has the capacity also to handle the word of God effectively. Another gift could be teaching. The gift of teaching, is really the ability to make clear the truth of Scripture through systematic instruction, and do it in such a way that people can understand the truth and see something of its application. It includes the ability to study and organize that study to be able to give a lesson. Evangelism is people that have the ability to share the gospel clearly. I’m so thankful for people who are willing to share the gospel with people. When you have the gift of evangelism, you know that you have such a passion for it. You’re talking to everybody about the Lord, and people actually get saved, and they come and they start getting connected to the church. Or the gift of exhortation. That gift is the ability to encourage and admonish others in their walk with Christ. The gift really seems to include the element of challenge and of comfort. This gift usually includes a sensitivity to people in situations, to be able to discern what they’re going through and lift them up, exhort them, get them going when they may be stuck in the mud. And then the gift of helps. Many people have this gift. The gift of helps with the ability to aid believers in need, especially in physical and material ways. Those having this gift with ease come along side those who have other needs and simply come to meet the needs in the body. And then the gift of mercy, this gift is the ability to deal effectively and lovingly with those who are sick and afflicted. Evidence of the gift includes the presence of cheerfulness when engaged in this kind of ministry. They they just know how to go into a hospital room and lift up the spirits of someone, or go somewhere where someone is sick and afflicted and be able to read Scripture to them, sing with them, and just encourage them in their situation.
And then the gift of administration, somebody who can lead and administer, the ability to give organizational information to people, leadership in that way, get people together and organize and moving. That’s a spiritual gift. Faith, the gift of faith is the ability to believe God in such a way that God is free to choose to act in powerful ways. Faith is not irrational, but is really characterized by an utter dependence on the Lord and not on human resources. Giving is a gift, the ability to give generously, cheerfully, eagerly. Now we all are to do these but some people have been given a spiritual gift to do these things by the Holy Spirit, to be able to give to the body. It may include the ability to make money. It also may include the ability to discern the spirit of where to give and then how to give and when to give and all those things. The gift of knowledge is the ability to understand the truth and to have an illumination and insight that is unusual in many respects. These days it could be somebody who are able to take the word of God in how it functions and is applied to life in a higher level. Of sometimes these are our Christian scholars who write books and commentaries and theological works. They just are given that ability to do it. And then the gift of wisdom, the ability to practically apply the word of God to life situations as to what is right and what is wrong, what is God’s way and what is every other way. Or the gift of discernment, the ability to tell which things are from the Spirit and which are not, distinguishing truth from error. This serves to protect the church from error.
So all these gifts there that I’ve mentioned are in the Word of God. Which one do you have? Which one do you recognize in yourself? Now, experimentation is always important when it comes to the gifts. Give an attempt to serve in different areas of the church body. Don’t just give it a brief attempt, but really a prolonged effort over a period of time such as may be doing evangelism or serving the particular area or helping doing a role in helps. Just get in there and do it, and you’re going to find out that when you get in there there’s going to be confirmation that happens. And this is really key to spiritual gifts, seeking out the reaction of mature and respectable Christians, where they come alongside of you and they give you a word of encouragement and appreciation about what particular thing you gave to them. And you find out, wow, that really does identify a spiritual gift. Then you use it, and then you have to determine where can I serve. Desires, God gives us desires to serve. Many times, a spiritual gift is connected to passion. What do I passionately want to do and see happen? And then where can I serve as far as my spiritual level of maturity – when you’re spiritually immature, we have to be led like a child down the street. But when we become an adult, we don’t need somebody to lead us down the street. It’s the same thing with spiritual gifts, like what level of spiritual growth have you obtained in your Christian walk? Are you just a babe in Christ? You just got saved. YOu’re only saved a short period of time. Are you a young man, like it says in 1 John where you learn to take the word of God and you’re fighting the devil with it. And you love the Word of God and you’re growing in it. You’re growing more like Christ. Or have you really grown to be a spiritual father, that you learned how to walk by faith? You’re learn how to trust God. You have confidence in the Word of God. You know what gifts you have and are using your gifts and you love the body. You know where you’re supposed to fit and you just do that.
And then we have when to serve, the availability. Not everybody can give ten hours in service. Some can give just six to nine hours. Some can give two to give hours. Some only can give one hour. Whatever you can give, you should be giving and use that time to be part of building up the church.
And then where do you serve. That would be what ministries would fit you. Do you need ministry training? But begin somewhere. That’s the encouragement, that God has assigned to every Christian a function in the body of Christ, and there are no exceptions. Nobody can say I don’t belong to do this. There are no exceptions. Every member has a function within the body and God has assigned him to fulfill that function.
Now saying all that, you should have received the green card today. Did you, or did you not? On that green card, this is what we did not too long ago. Right before covid we were doing these things. And we asked you just to observe the places of service in our body and to follow the directions there and just answer some simple questions. Have you been baptized by immersion? Yes or no. Are you are you a member of our church already? Yes or no. Then number four would be for each ministry to the right, mark with an “s” all in which you are actively serving, an “a” all that you regularly attend already, and and “is” all in which you are interested in serving. If you don’t have a green piece of paper, raise your hand and we’ll get you one. Then an “ia” in all those you are interested in attending. So just check what you not only are interested in presently right now, but maybe what you’re interested in in the future. Somebody may even check I’m interested in being a deacon but I don’t think I’m ready to do that right now. You can check that. All these things are connected to some spiritual gift that is used to edify and build up the church. Now, I would ask you to fill that out. And if you can fill it out today and give it to Dwayne in the back as you leave. If you need time to think about it, to be able to check off these things, then you can wait until next week. But we’d like to receive at least one card from everybody to just let us know where we can say, okay this ministry needs a person. Would you like to work there? And if there’s a new ministry that’s starting, maybe we can get you connected with that. But we want to try to get you connected somewhere, that you can participate in a particular ministry that will be the thing that God has given you. If you don’t know your spiritual gift, that’s all right if you don’t know it. But if you do know it, then let us know what it is so we can also connect you according to your spiritual gift. Please do that today. There’ll be a box in the back. Just drop it in that box today or next week. We would appreciate that very much.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You for the Word of God. And Lord, thank You for the gifts that You bestow upon us. Thank You for so great a salvation. I pray, Lord, that every single one of us would give ourselves over to You as a living sacrifice because of your mercy. And in doing that, we don’t want to be conformed to the world, but we want to be transformed in our mind so we would know the good and acceptable perfect will of God. And that Lord, we don’t want to think of ourselves higher or lower than we ought to, but just the way You gifted us and the measure of the gift You’ve given us. Then Lord, once we know that and you’ve given us humility to understand the body and appreciate every other person’s gift, that it would be for the common good of the church, for the edification of the church, and for the glory of God. Then I pray the Lord Jesus, that You would take our body and mold and shape it according to Your will, to go out and serve with zeal, and serve You and others with love. And I pray this and thank You for all that You have done and will do. And for all the servants that You’ve already given us. Continue to multiply our servants for the glory of Your great name. And I pray this in Christ. Amen.