Exercising your Gifts in the Body
General Idea: This passage is about exercising the Spiritual Gifts, abilities and opportunities that God has given us. But, one thing needs to be cleared out of the way for us to move in His Way- our pride! We must be honest about ourselves and seek Him as Lord not by who we are and what we can do. The second thing we need to do before effectively using our gifts is learning and knowing we are all interconnected to one another in Christ and we are called to work together and function in cooperation not against or in antagonism with other Christians.
Spiritual Gifts are much more than the talents and abilities we have. They are the means for the Body of Christ to function in health and in distinction. They separate us from the evil ways of the world, yet if they are misused they will inflict the very things they are meant to prevent. They are to empower us for the service of our King, and to cooperate and build relationships with other Believers without pretension or pride. When we work together in unity we will discover and execute a synergetic reaction for good and service and for the building of the Kingdom.
Unfortunately, what we usually find in the church is strife, dysfunction, gossip, and slander, because our pride gets in the way of His call. Thus, the gifts are neutralized or turned into weapons of dysfunction. Rather than to reach out and disciple as we should do, we fight amongst ourselves, or develop false doctrines. The Body cannot do things well or function correctly when we are puffed-up with ourselves. We cannot function by pretending, or out of hate. In order for us to be used effectively by Christ, we must be infused with love and joy as we do our part for His glory.
1. For I say…Everyone, Paul tells us to function with Christ and with efficiency we must affirm and cooperate with each of our special abilities and functions. Honor others abilities and gifts too. This goes beyond the function of a priest as we are all now called to minister and we do this with harmony! How we are to treat each other and ourselves? It is by removing pride and focusing on Christ and not ourselves! Although this is not a normal topic in today's Christianity, it is, however, a necessary one. We still to use our gifts and have confidence.
a. The grace given, Paul realized that he and his ministry exist solely by God's grace and so must we! Paul, people, Christians, and ministry all exist because of Christ's work of grace. Never forget who you are! We must never allow our leadership position, or who we are in Christ to "puff us up!" A condescending Christian is an "oxymoron" (with the emphases on being a moron!) Like "jumbo shrimp," the two terms just do not go together!
b. When we have a healthy grasp of our redemption, then our self-esteem should be boiling over with Christ-esteem. We must have a correct self-image of ourselves, not just one of "self esteem," or who we are to ourselves and people around us, but of who we are in relationship with our Lord. What He has done for us must perambulate us!
c. More highly than you ought, this is a call to remove pride and recognize others value and worth too (Job 41:34; 2 Chron. 26:16; 32:26; Psalm 10:4-5; 18:27; 31:18; 56:2; 59:12; 62:10; 73:6-12; 101:5; 131:1; 6:17; Prov. 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 16:18; 21:4; 24; 29:23; 30:13; Isa. 2:11-21; 13:19; 16: 6; 23:9; Ezek. 28:2; Obad. 1:3; 1 Cor. 1:6; 2 Cor. 5:12; 7:4; Gal. 6:4; and these are just a few!).
d. Think soberly, means to be realistic what you are called and gifted to do because who we are in Christ. Who we are to Christ is the most significant thing in the universe for the Christian! Thus, we should never feel insecure or have the "poor me" attitude when we have Christ in our lives (Gal. 3 6: 3-5). We need to be over comers. This is a tough task, but we can do it with our Lord at the helm! The opposite is true too. We are not to think we are "little gods" or "rulers of our domain." We are never to go beyond our self-image at others expense, and especially the Lord's. He is God. We are not! Being a depressed Christian is shameful (unless there are times of loss and brokenness or chemical imbalance in the brain…and if this is so, one should seek godly help from qualified pastors and counselors.) To continue in a life style of depression (without seeking help) and poor self-image is unnecessary. Christ died to rid us of this kind of shame!
2. Measure of faith, means we are all apportioned for different functions with the abilities to meet them. This is about our justification in Christ and in community to others justification too. He loves you and others too! Diversity in unity goes together as meaning cooperation. It is the responsibility of the Believer to the church Body. We have unity and diversity in the Body. This is necessary to our functioning together. We cannot all be the same. We are to see our differences as filling each other's gaps and deficiencies (I Cor. 12-14; Eph. 4:7-15).
a. This is one of the main roles of the Church, to have its people work together in Christ with one another and bring this model to the world around us!
b. We are never to be pretentious with spiritual gifts or in ministry in general, but we are to use them to encourage and build up, and never to tear down. Authenticity is extremely important (1 Tim 3:15). God does not need us to wear masks and pretend.
3. Prophecy is not fully defined in the New Testament, thus it is often debated (Acts 13:1; 21:10-11; I Cor. 12:29; Eph. 4:11). It generally refers to teaching the Word of our Lord, especially before the compilation of the cannon of Scripture in the fourth century. The Jews saw it as "divine possession" from God to a believer. Others see it as God bestowing His clear un-contradicting instructions. Prophecy is seen by Jews and most Christian groups as extra ordinary and rare. All the gifts are the work we do for God from the "manifestation" and or "empowerment" of the supernatural work of God the Spirit within us. The "visible" manifestations may be rare; yet God and His miracles are still at work in us and in His Church in the world.
a. Some people refer to prophecy in this passage as "word of knowledge," a receiving of special wisdom and knowledge directly from the Holy Spirit. This can be supported from Scripture, but these "words of wisdom" will never countermand Scripture! They may come in the form of a hunch, insights from the Word, or even more directly, so that one will have more information about what God has given them to do in order to interact more effectively. Most churches that practice this "word of knowledge" do not use it discerningly, and they elevate their wisdom over Scripture! Hence, we can see why there are so many false teachings in America.
b. Ministry/serve, this refers to an "office" of the Church such as a deacon or staff person in ministry. Its application means we all serve and when we serve we are serving Christ, His Hands in the world (Rom. 15:25; 16:1).
c. Showing mercy, means being charitable here, it is being generous to others with what Christ has given you. To serve Him without being held back by fear, time or lack of talent. This also means directly caring for those in need, such as the sick, infirmed and poor, but some Christians will have a specific call and empowerment to do this. People in the world may be more concerned for their own needs and agendas than they are for God's clear doctrine and purpose, but as Christians we are called to go beyond ourselves to serve others well (Titus 2).
d. Without hypocrisy, this is called a "parenesis" in ancient philosophy, a call to moral excellence that is not contradictory with our other behaviors, words or thoughts.
e. Kindly affectionate / be devoted, means to look out and look after each other, to give preference to others, because there are no inferior or superior people in the Kingdom of God, just those with different calls, abilities and opportunities! Kindness is the proof of authenticity (Rom. 2:1-4; 12:9-21; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:12-14; 1 John 3:16-23)!
f. Hospitality in Paul's time meant putting up travels without charge and visiting one another (Heb. 13:2-3; 3 John 5-8). Verses 14-21 in this section remind us of the Sermon on the Mount, the basic teachings of Jesus (Luke 6).
Have you considered that a Christian who is well off and who does nothing for another Christian who is in poverty or need is being an abomination before God? Such acts would have revolted most Greek philosophers because it is hypocritical. All ancient moralists believed we must take care of one another and as a Pastor, unfortunately, I have really seen this! Paul emphatically emphasis the imperative call that we must get along with one another in order to serve Christ truly and effectively as well as model Him to the world! Then we must look out and help one another, this is our great witness to those in the world! When we fail at this we are failing our Lord! We have to see how important it is how we treat each other. This is imperative to the Lord and demonstrates His love to the world!
We must practice the Christian faith with a since of urgency. There can be no hesitation to serve the Lord, or we will miss His vital opportunities. We need to do this by being humble, to share with one another rather than be so concerned with our agenda or our personal needs. The call is to cooperate, this means to create an environment of trust and encouragement, so that people will want to join and belong as they see that there is no pride or arrogance (Prov. 3:7; Phil. 1:2-8). When we are selfish and stingy with our sharing, we create an atmosphere of distrust. Who would want to be a part of that? How we behave with one another as well as how we react to the non-Christian environment will distinguish us as Christ-like or as hypocrites. Which characteristic do you think our God desires?
1. How do you repay people who tease or joke at your expense?
2. How do you and your church practice hospitality?
3. What does the "Body of Christ" mean to you?
4. Why are Spiritual Gifts more than the talents and abilities?
5. How can Spiritual Gifts be misused to cause strife instead of unity? What causes Spiritual Gifts to be misused?
6. What happens when Spiritual Gifts are being exercised effectively?
7. Why would we as Christians fight amongst ourselves instead of exercising unity as Christ calls us to do?
8. To serve Christ effectively we must be infused with what? Why do some people find that so hard to do?
9. What is the correct self-image for we as Christians?
10. What can you do to develop a healthy image of who you are in Christ?
11. Christ-esteem means what to you?
12. Who are you in Christ?
13. Why is this the most significant thing in the universe for the Christian?
14. Why would some Christians feel insecure or have the "poor me" attitude when they have Christ in their lives?
15. Read Gal. 6: 2-5. How can you test your own actions?
16. What do you need to get rid of so you can carry your own load?
17. Thus, we should never_________?
18. Why should we not think of ourselves as "little gods", or "rulers of our domain"?
19. Why would being a depressed Christian who does not seek help be shameful?
20. What causes a leader in Christ to "puff" himself up?
21. Why is a condescending Christian an "oxymoron"?
22. Unity is a responsibility. So, what are the responsibilities?
23. For us to function in unity, what do we need to see in each other?
24. For us to function in unity, why is diversity so important?
25. What is the danger in pretending with Spiritual Gifts, to say you have one that you do not have?
26. Why is authenticity so extremely important in Christian leadership?
27. What is kindness to you?
28. How can kindness be used as the proof text to authenticity?
29. How do you view prophecy?
30. Why is prophecy so often debated and misused in the church?
31. How can prophecy be used today in the church?
32. What comes to your mind when the subject of "word of knowledge" comes up?
33. How can "word of knowledge" be used today in the church?
34. How and why are some Christians more concerned with their own needs and agendas rather than with God's clear doctrine and purpose?
35. What can the church do to guard herself against pride from her leaders?
36. What are the vital opportunities we miss when we do not practice the Christian faith with a since of urgency?
37. What do you need to do to put humbleness and sharing with one another above your own agenda and needs?
38. We are never to go beyond our self-image (will and pride) at another's expense, and especially the Lord's. So, how can you set up a check and balance system for yourself and/or your church to guard against it?
39. What do you need to do to be an over comer, to be one who is not bogged down in depression and a "poor me "attitude? This is a tough task, but we can do it with our Lord at the helm.
40. Have you considered that a Christian who is well off and who does nothing for another Christian who is in poverty or need is being an abomination before God? What can you and your church do to model this passage better?
"The final Judgment:" refers to the righteous judgment of God that is still to come at the end of Human History, as we know it. (Duet. 30:19; Luke 13:24; Phil. 2:10-11) This is not to judge our salvation as Believers, because that has already been done. It will be to judge our works and motivations! Then we will receive our place in eternity, our reward. For the non-Christian, this is the time for God's justice. His anger and fury for sin will prevail. (John 3:36; Rom. 2:5; 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; Rev. 6:17; 19:15) All people in all times will be judged, and all will give an account to God for their actions in life on earth. (Psalm 62:12; Matt. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12) Christ will save the Believers from the anger of God, (Matt. 12:33-37; I Thess. 1:10), and allow us to reveal our works, which are the fruits and gratitude for our Salvation. Beware to you, the "reprobate," the carnal Christian, for your hypocrisy will be revealed. (Matt. 7:21-23; 18:23-35; 25:34-46; I Cor. 4:5; James 2:14-26) Christ is Judge, Jury, Prosecutor, and Defense Attorney, and the only One who can pardon. (Matt. 13:40-43; 25:41-46; John 5:22-30; Acts 10:42; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 9:27; 10:25-31; 12:23; 2 Pet. 3:7; Jude 6-7; Rev. 20:11-15) This final judgment will answer and reveal His plan and reasons to all (Psalm 50:16-21; Acts 14:16; Rev. 6:10; 16:5-7; 19:1-5).
© 1998, 2001, 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org/