We 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. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if 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.
(Romans 12:6-8 NIV)
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
(1Peter 4:10 NIV)
God gives various abilities (or “gifts”) to his people. But it is up to each of us to humbly serve others with the abilities God has given each of us.
Unfortunately, having God-given abilities does not necessarily correlate with spiritual maturity. The church at Corinth appears to be well-endowed with spiritual gifts (1Corinthians 1:7; 12:4-31, 14:1-40), yet Paul writes to them:
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? (1Corinthians 3:1-3)
God-given gifts can easily become a source of sinful pride. Paul also writes to the Corinthians:
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1Corinthians 4:7 NIV)
Some gifts from God are generally perceived to be more important than other gifts. Scripture uses the analogy of a human body to emphasize the value of each person and their gifting within the body of Christ:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (1Corinthians 12:21-25)
Scripture emphasizes the need for God’s people to serve one another in love. Without love, our gifts are of no benefit:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1Corinthians 13:1-3)
For Further Reflection
Ask God for discernment to understand the gift (or gifts) he has given you, and how to best serve others.
Exodus 31:1-6: God gives the ability.
Deuteronomy 8:17-18: God gives the ability.
1Corinthians 12:4 to 13:3: Different gifts, service, workings.
1Corinthians 14:1-40: Proper use of spiritual gifts.
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