Engage the Mission – Gifted
“11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV (emphasis mine)
I believe that we need to aspire to greater things in the church. God doesn’t call the able when they passively engage His mission. He enables the call when we actively engage His mission. We need to aspire for God to do greater things. We need to aspire to be a part of His church that will advance His Kingdom.
There are gifts that God gives you and there are gifts that God gives the church. Church leadership needs to look for and unlock these gifts within the people. The church, or ekklesia, in the New Testament does not refer to an organization, but rather to people who are an assembly or are called out for a specific purpose.
Last year Josiah (my 10 year old son) got his first cell phone as a gift from mom and dad. While we want him to make use of his phone, we don’t want him to mistreat or misuse it. We want him to be able to make calls to mom and dad, grandpa and grandma, and his cousins. We would not be happy if he put his gift in a drawer and forgot about it. We would not be pleased if he called people that he wasn’t intended too. We would be very upset with him if he misused his gift by using the phone to buy things!
Spiritual gifts from God are not toys to be played with, but tools to build God’s church with. If not used in love and with wisdom, the same gifts that God intends to use to build His church can become dangerous weapons that both paralyze and kill a church body.
How do you discover your gifts? I have taught Spiritual Gift classes and have taken Spiritual Gift Inventories, but I’d suggest that there is no better way to discover our spiritual gifts than by being in fellowship with other believers and serving where we find a need. While I enjoy teaching Spiritual Gifts classes and giving out inventories, I don’t recall one person in the Scriptures who discovered their gifts through a class or an inventory. It ALWAYS comes through engaging Kingdom work and aspiring to greater things for God.
In the next few devotions, we will learn about the five gifts that God gives to build or edify not only the individual life of the believer, but the church as a whole. We will aspire to greater things.
We need to recognize from Scripture that we are not gifted for our own sake. We are rather gifted for the sake of Jesus’ church.
The passage in Ephesians 4 begins with three words that I think are worth spending some time on as we begin this journey. That’s right… just three words.
“So Christ Himself…”
As we explore this passage, it is important to see that Jesus Christ Himself established these offices. They were not established by the early church fathers or the emerging church movement. They were not established by a church denomination nor were they instituted at some later time in history. The offices we are going to look at are by the appointment of Jesus Christ Himself.
Though some may lay claim to these offices, Paul points out that they are by divine appointment, and not by human invention or ingenuity. There is great power in the life of individual believers when we utilize the gifts that God gives in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 27-31, and Romans 12:3-8. These gifts are great blessings which edify the individual life of the believer, but in Ephesians 4:11, we see something different.
We find in Ephesians the gifts that God gives to the church – in the form of His people! In these verses, Paul is no longer naming the “gifts” given to believers, as much as he is now naming the gifted people whom God has placed in the church.
Paul is saying that Christ Himself is the One who gave these gifts to the church – so pay attention! Here we go!
Thank You Jesus for the gifts that You give to Your church. Open my eyes as a leader to see how to utilize these gifts to bring You glory, to edify Your church, and to advance Your Kingdom. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ, amen.