Use Your Gifts for God’s Glory~ Way 20
Now we urge you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.
1 Thessalonians 5:12,13
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith. If it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Spiritual gifts are discussed at length in many places throughout scripture, but most notably in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4. In each passage, several different gifts are mentioned- apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, servants, encouragers, givers- but the overarching message is that all of these gifts should be used in love.
As I read through these passages, I am struck by the beauty and the difficulty of God’s plan. Beauty, because He has made each one of us unique in order to carry out his plan in the world. Difficulty, because our differences have a way of causing divisions rather than drawing us together.
Every local church, every “body” of believers has been given all that they need to bring honor and glory to God. Problems arise when certain gifts are viewed as superior, when some are not seeking to use their gifts, or when the body is not seeking unity.
1. Superior Gifts~ This concept is one of the biggest threats to local churches today. We have elevated leaders, we have turned them into celebrities and this results in two things. One is the tendency for leaders to crave more and more power. They can begin to believe that their gifts are superior to anyone else in the body and forget that there are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone, it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:6). The other tendency is for church members to regard their gifts as unimportant, as inferior. Both of these responses to giftings is wrong. Our focus must be on the one giving the gifts and not on our own impression of them. If we truly believe in a good, gracious, gift giving God, then we need to trust His will in our lives and in the lives of others.
A great resource in challenging believers to not think of yourself more highly than you ought is a short book by Timothy Keller called The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness. In order for the body of Christ to work in the way God intends, each member must see their gifts as a way to bring glory to God. Period.
2. Ignoring Gifts~ Another threat to local churches is this idea that members don’t really need to use their gifts. There is a common belief that in most churches 20 % of the people do 80 % of the work while the rest do next to nothing. I believe it goes back to this misconception that certain gifts are more important. There is also an expectation among many that if staff in a church are paid, they should be doing all of the work.
It seems to me that these thoughts creep in when members of the body lose the focus of bringing glory to God. If He is our delight, we will want to serve Him. If we are seeking His will, then we will be obedient to use the gifts he has given us. We can’t ignore our gifts when our focus is on the gift giver. The language in the passages on spiritual gifts involve action- find your gift and use it. Now this doesn’t mean that we won’t have seasons in which serving is impossible or that we will always be in a situation where we only get to do what we love. It does mean that we are not to ignore gifts, but instead to seek them out and use them for God’s glory.
3. Disunity in the Body~ Working with other people is messy. Sometimes it is easier to just do it all yourself, but this is not the way God designed his church. He is most glorified when his people who are completely different are able to work together. This doesn’t make sense to the world, which is just part of God’s brilliant plan. Growing up, our church often sang the song They’ll Know We are Christians, the refrain being by our love. This truth is of great significance. Sure, it would be easier to just find a small group of people who are exactly the same and who all agree. But what does that say about God? If we believe in a big, almighty, all powerful God, then we need to struggle with our differences and fight for unity, trusting that He can overcome these things.
When we understand our role in the body of Christ, God receives the glory. When we use our gifts, understanding that they have been given to us by our gracious God, He gets the glory. And when we value ALL gifts and do not view them as superior or inferior, God gets the glory.
So, you might be wondering, how exactly does using your gifts demonstrate appreciation for your pastor? When the body of Christ is functioning properly, when each member is doing their part, and when God is receiving the glory, the pastor is free to use his gifts for God’s glory as well.
One of the responsibilities that pastors have is to equip their people for service. It brings great joy to a pastor who has poured into his people to see them using their gifts.
Way 20: Appreciate your pastor by using your gifts for God’s glory.
Side note: There are several online spiritual gifts tests. These tests can help you get started on discovering gifts that you may have in your life. But it is important to know that finding our gifts must first start with getting to know the Gift-Giver. If you are unsure of your gifts, talk to your pastor.