Gifts Are A Blessing To Be Opened And Used
Romans 12:1-2 and 6-8 & 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Lord we thank you for the gift of your Word and as we think on these things open our hearts and minds to hear your word to us Amen
Spiritual gifts are given, but must be received and opened and used if they are to bless others. Today is the third and final talk in our series on ‘Being blessed to be a Blessing’.
In the first week we spoke about the blessings that can flow from our circumstances even if they are largely negative or bad.
Then last week we spoke about the blessing we have in our abilities and how we can use those strengths and skills, through our availability, to bless others.
In review, Blessings are essentially about the impartation of something ‘good’ or an impartation resulting in something ‘good’.
We can be blessed with our finances, our resources, our buildings, our energy, our time and we can use those blessings to bless those around us or even those who come after us – as I am sure was happening on this very spot 165 years ago.
Today we will continue and conclude the discussion as we focus on the God-given ‘gifts and graces’ or – as it is rendered in the Greek – ‘charis’ or ‘charismata’, we have been given which must be used to bless others.
About ten or twelve years ago, Thea and I and a good friend went to a healing service at Christian City Church at Oxford Falls, to see what it was all about.
We arrived at the wrong time as the morning worship service was just ending and the 150 or so people were meditating or praying or getting ready to leave. We sat down and listened to some soft music and we began to pray.
Our friend sat between Thea and me, and suddenly she jerked forward, then sat back. She jerked forward again and this time got to her feet. I watched as she scuttled down between rows as if she was looking for a particular person. She would stop near a person then move away until she came to a person who she sat down beside.
To us, this seemed very odd behaviour but ten minutes or so later she came back and explained what had happened.
As she was praying, she heard a voice which said she was to go to the young woman in the red dress and to tell her that she was to continue her work with children as the Lord was pleased with her work.
Our friend had ignored the prompt but then felt something like a hand on her back that pushed her forward. After this happened a second time and realizing there was no-one behind her, she got up to find the woman in red.
Unfortunately there may have been more than 20 women wearing red that day but as she came close to each one she felt that this was not the right one. Finally, after about the fifth attempt, she got a word telling her this was the one.
She sat beside the woman, and in a rather embarrassed way explained that she had been given a message to pass on. The young woman was shocked, and then gladdened as she told our friend that she had been praying to the Lord in the service for an answer as to whether she was to continue her work with children, hosting Christian birthday parties for them.
What our friend realised, what we realised, and what the apostle Paul also realised – when he first penned the words in his letter to the Romans, and later to the Corinthians – was that God was working in people’s lives and that this had little, if anything, to do with personal skills, strengths or insights.
Also what we saw and what we read in Paul’s letter is that not everyone has the same gifts [Romans 12:6 and 1 Corinthians 12:8ff], that gifts are used for God’s purposes and not ours, that is they are used to serve him [Romans 12:1] and that gifts are given to people to build up God’s church, for the common good [1 Corinthians 12:7].
The gifts are supernaturally imparted to his people and Paul seeks to stress this in his opening lines of his letter to the Romans in Chapter 12:
Do not be conformed to the world’s natural understanding of these things. Instead, be transformed and renewed and re-educated and open to what the Spirit can do in and through us.
In Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Peter 4 we get some idea of the serving and teaching gifts that we are granted, sometimes in powerful ways [God decides the proportions – Romans 12:3ff].
These include giftings of prophesy, miracles, giving, teaching, serving, hospitality, exorcism and the discernment of Spirits, administration, great faith, pastoring, mercy, healing, voluntary poverty, words of knowledge, wisdom, speaking in tongues and the interpreting of tongues [heavenly languages].
We must remember that all of these things are secondary to the first gift given to us in Jesus Christ and the Spirit of Christ.
As a Christian, we have a duty to find out through discernment and testing what are the unmerited spiritual gifts we have.
We are told we all have one or more of these. Electronic surveys such as ‘Gifted 2 Serve’ may be a good starting point in discerning your giftings, as too is asking someone, in your spiritual life, what they believe your supernatural gifts are, as too is testing the gifts, by trying to operate in them, or asking God in prayer for revelation.
I believe, if we don’t use our spiritual gifts, then we will lose that anointing which we read about throughout the Bible.
If we misuse them [that is treating them as a possession or a personal power, that divides the body rather than building it up] then our fall will be great.
If we are truly Christians who understand that we are blessed to be a blessing to others, then we will use our circumstances our skills and God’s spiritual gifts to us, to build up the body of Christ – his church – and that we will be not only become more unified in purpose but more effective in ministry as we work together as a team.
Christian writer, Robert Hillman, in his book 27 Spiritual gifts talks about using our gifts in a team together by using this analogy – which, given the end of the football season, is very relevant. I leave this with you to meditate on…..
The Australian church may also be compared with a football match. Towards the end of a tough Grand Final a small group of players stagger around the field desperately in need of rest. Around the oval is a huge crowd of adrenalin charged onlookers desperately in need of exercise.
In the church of Christ, there can be no spectators. Everyone is a player. Each one has a ministry. Not everyone plays fullback. Everyone has his or her own position.
Ephesians chapter 4 supports this model of the church. The saints [i.e. all Christians] carry out the work of ministry [verse 12]. All God’s people are in the team. Everyone is a player. The leaders [verse 11] may be compared to player-coaches who assist all the other players to play in their correct positions and to play to the best of their ability.
Busy leaders and loyal members of the Australian church frequently complain about all they have to do and about the many onlookers in the church who seem content to cheer them on, or more likely, disparage them from the sidelines. In this situation we often find individual players endeavouring to fill several positions at once, seldom freed to concentrate on playing in the position for which they are best gifted.
One of the things about exercising your special gifts is that service becomes a delight rather than sheer duty or drudgery. It remains a burden [Jesus used the term ‘yoke’] but it is a light burden [Matthew 11:28]. It is accompanied with fruitfulness and fulfilment. Vigorous training throughout the week seems worthwhile when you are able to play effectively in your right position on Saturday afternoon.
You will find, as you play in your natural position in the team concentrating on your spiritual gift, that your efficiency increases dramatically. You will generally accomplish much more in the time available than if you are involved in a ministry for which you have no special gift. Generally, this ministry will involve much less stress because you are not continually frustrated by a sense of inadequacy. The player who runs all over the field wastes energy and hampers the other members of the team.
There is such a thing as misplaced team loyalty. A person who play Sunday school teacher for years, despite the fact that he or she has no real teaching gift, is probably missing his or her God given ministry. Of course, there is need to try oneself out in various positions including teaching to see which is one’s area of giftedness. There may be occasions, when for a short period, one should substitute as a teacher because of the need. But generally a long term ministry which does not involve the use of one’s best gifts appears to be unbiblical. It is as tragic in terms of Christian service as is the ruining of one’s football career by continuing to play fullback instead of forward.
It is not simply a matter of each one finding his or her correct position in the team. Everyone must play the game with the right spirit.
In Christian terms the ‘right spirit’ refers to the Holy Spirit which everyone who believes in Christ receives [Acts 2:38, Romans 8:9]. The Holy Spirit who indwells each serving believer gives the church a spirit of unity [or team spirit] under Christ the head of the church [or captain of the team].
from 27 Spiritual Gifts by Robert Hollman, Melbourne, 1986.