“…there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good—1 Corinthians 12:5-7
Two weeks ago we began looking at the subject of Christian stewardship. Last week we zeroed in on stewardship of time, and next week we’ll examine the stewardship of money or resources. Today, however, we’re considering the stewardship of the gifts God has given to each of us.
One of the most obvious but most important realities regarding the gifts of God is that they are given (I Peter 4:10). By definition, a gift comes from a source other than us. According to the Scripture, God is the source, “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). This necessarily implies that we can take no pride in the gifts we receive. They are not ours to take pride in! In fact, to take pride in our gifts is an act of idolatry. Placing ourselves at the center, we take what God has given and we act like it’s the fruit of our own merit. God alone is the giver of gifts (Heb. 2:4).
In the second place, the gifts God gives are apportioned to each one according to the will of God. Speaking of the gifts, Paul writes, “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (I Cor. 12:11). Though we all share the same Lord, God gives differing gifts to his disciples. This variety of gifting is both in terms of quality and degree. We do not all have the same gifts, nor do persons with similar gifts all share the same degree of gifting (Romans 12:1-3; I Cor. 12:1-30). God alone is the power in the exercise and effectiveness of our gifts as He sovereignly measures out of the gifts to His body in faith for the purposes He intends.
That leads us to our third point. The gifts are always given with a purpose: the building up of the body of Christ. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-12). The gifts you have are for others, not yourself. Likewise, the gifts of others are not for themselves but for you. We are, as Paul reminds us, “members of one another” (Rom. 12:5, Eph. 4:25).
Remarkably, this indicates two things: (1) that you cannot be who you are designed to be without using your gifts in service to others and (2) without receiving the service of other’s gifts for you. And when I say “you” cannot be who are you are designed to be, what I mean is that “we” cannot be who we are designed to be, the body of Christ. God has given us one another to attain “the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). That is quite a purpose, and you and I cannot get there alone. So, let’s grow up together in every way into Christ, from whom the whole body is joined and equipped, each part working as it should; that together we might grow so that the whole body is built up in love—for love is the most excellent way (Eph. 4:15, I Cor. 13:1-13).