Oh, if the chairs in my study could talk! It amazes me how the same chair can hold people with such different views from one day to the next. One week a man whom I was recruiting to teach Sunday school sat in a chair in my study and declared, “Pastor, I would love to help, but I just don’t think I have the gifts.” He was selling himself short. I had seen him in action, and he had the gift of teaching.
But then the next day a zealous woman, who struggled in leading one of our Sunday school classes, sat in that very same chair and bubbled out the words, “Pastor, I have a passion to teach. Would you help me advertise a small group Bible study that I can hold in my home?” I was amazed. She was biting off way more than she could chew. All in the same chair!
What did those two people have in common? They didn’t have a balanced view of their gifts. A mature Christian works at that. God gives different gifts to different saints, and he intends that we use them powerfully and properly for the good of his church. To help us improve the way we use our gifts, let’s study these words from Romans 12 and work through the questions that follow.
3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We 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. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
POINTS TO PONDER
1. Look at verse 3. When you fully understand the grace of God, how does that lead you to not think too highly of yourself?
When we fully understand that we are not only saved by grace but that also every spiritual gift and earthly talent is ours as a gift of God’s grace then we do not see ourselves as a superior person who has honed his or her gifts better than others. Instead we humbly see ourselves as a recipient of a gift, and we feel obligated to use that gift to serve others and not ourselves.
2. How do verses 4 and 5 give all of us a proper perspective of ourselves?
In these verses Paul reminds us that we all have different gifts so that we can fit together with each other. We all belong to one another and not to ourselves alone. Then we will see our gift as a responsibility to serve all others for their good.
3. How do verses 6-8 lead us not to think too lowly of ourselves either?
These verses remind us that we all do have gifts. God wants each of us to use them for the good of others. We waste precious time in our lives if we view ourselves as having nothing to offer the body of Christ.
TREASURES TO SHARE
1. List ways that church leaders can help fellow Christians understand how to use their gifts.
Church leaders could carefully look over their roles and prayerfully evaluate each member of the flock, trying to decide what gifts they have to offer the church. Then they could approach that member based on their giftedness and ask them to serve. Too often we ask based on need and not giftedness. Secondly, there are several good spiritual gift surveys out there, and leaders could help members fill those out and then give their other leaders names of people who can serve in appropriate capacities.
2. How does a person find out what his or her spiritual gifts are?
Usually, if you start helping out in the mission of the gospel at your church in ways that you like to help as well as in ways that seem to come easily to you, you will discover your gifts in those areas. Also you could take a survey on spiritual gifts or ask people who know you well what they think your gifts are.
3. Identify what you think is one of your more prominent spiritual gifts. Then list three ways you will put that gift to use for Jesus in the next seven days.
When you get specific with yourself you will move yourself past the theoretical to real Christian living. If you have close loved one hold you accountable to this, you will see some definite fruit born for Jesus.
4. Think of someone you know who has a spiritual gift that is easy to see. In the next few days call to tell him that you appreciate that gift and how he uses it.
Often the encouragement of a close trusted Christian friend will help another Christian get off of the sideline and into faith action. We need to stir each other up to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24-26).
Related Scripture passages about spiritual gifts
1 Corinthians 12
1 Peter 4:7-11
Contributing editor Donald Patterson is pastor at Holy Word, Austin, Texas.
This is the seventh article in a 12-part series on Christian maturity.
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © May 2010 reprinted with permission.