by Seattle ALC
In his writings, Apostle Paul gives us a list of gifts that God has given to the church–gifts that are to be used for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). He likens the body of Christ to the physical body and its members, explaining that each member in the physical body has its own peculiar function and that all of the members work together for the health and the welfare of the whole. There is no competition among the body’s various members; each one by nature performs the function for which it was designed by our Creator. In applying this analogy to the body of Christ and to the gifts God chooses to give to individual members of that body, we can see how God has planned for the work of the Gospel to prosper.
Among the gifts Paul listed are apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helps, governments and diversities of tongues (I Cor. 12:28). Although these gifts are diverse, they have been given by the same spirit; although there are differences of administration, it is the same Lord; although there are diversities of operations, it is the same God that works in all (I Cor. 12:4-6).
As we observe the variety of gifts that God has distributed in the fellowship, it is important for us to remember that they are His good gifts and that their use in the work of His kingdom and to His glory is good. The apostle’s example is for us to recognize these gifts in one another and to encourage their use. At times we may find ourselves comparing our gifts with those God has given to someone else. In so doing we may become like Paul’s example where the head says to the feet, “I have no need of you;” or like the ear that says to the eye, “Because I am not the eye, I don’t belong to the body” (I Cor. 12). My father always told me that all of God’s gifts are good;
He does not give any gifts that are unnecessary or useless. He always encouraged me to use and develop the gifts that God had given me, no matter how small the seed. As parents and elders in the church, we also need to encourage our youth in the ways and the work of the Lord. When we see the Spirit’s work in them and recognize God’s leading, let us encourage them and also endeavor to provide opportunities for them to use their gifts.
This does not mean that we do not uphold the Biblical teaching that the younger are to be subject to the elder and that the elders who rule well are to be counted worthy of double honor. But as elders we are also to remember that we are not to be lords over God’s heritage, but examples to the flock. Apostles Peter and Paul were elders in the early Apostolic church. Let us learn from them something about the use of the gifts that God has given.
In both of his letters to Timothy, whom he called his own son in the faith, Paul acknowledged the work of God that was evident in Timothy and then gave him both counsel and encouragement. In his first letter, he warned Timothy against neglecting the gift that had been given him, and in his second letter, which is believed to be his last writing, Paul encouraged him to stir up the gift of God which he possessed.
In Apostle Peter’s writings, we are told that every man who has received a gift is to minister as a good steward of the manifold grace of God. And if any man speaks, Peter wrote, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man ministers, let him do it with the ability that God gives, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
Whatever our gift may be, let us always remember that how the gift is used is more important to the work of God’s kingdom than how we or others may rank our gift. Love is to be desired above all gifts and in all gifts. Certainly, this is what Apostle Paul teaches when he says: “Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet I shew unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing” (I Cor. 12:31, I Cor. 13:1-2).
( From the writings of the late Pastor A. C. Holmgren- September 1997)
Submitted by Pastor Stan