You Have A Grace Gift
Renew your mind. Think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with faith.
Now the apostle launches into a catalog of gifts that may be evident among believers in any church. We usually identify four such lists in the New Testament: I Corinthians 12:8-10, 27-28 (v27--“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it”), and Ephesians 4:11.
God is at Work When You Use Your Gift
These are gifts—charismata. They are given by the spirit of God to members of the Body for common good.
- So when you open your mouth to teach, you should be aware that God is at work through your speech.
- Any time we see God at work, we want to participate. The exercise of a spiritual gift is an invitation to join God in his work.
You should have a sense that you are a vessel as you exercise your gift, whatever it might be.
You should see your gift as coming from outside of yourself and delivered to you.
- This will protect you from the criticism that inevitably comes to those who dare to use their gifts. If you see this as the fruit of your own intellect and effort, then you may be devastated that people criticize your poem or song or speech. But if you see it as the activity of God through you, then you will not like the criticism, but you will be able to separate yourself from the gift.
- This will also protect you from pride and arrogance associated with your gift. You can fall into the trap of supposing that this gift is all about you, that you alone are responsible for the beauty or intellect or creativity or physique that you enjoy. Of course, this is folly. You did not select your DNA. It is a true gift.
This was a common understanding of human giftedness in the ancient world, not only among Hebrews and Christians, but also among the Romans and Greeks and many others. The Greek poets and musicians thought they had a MUSE, a god, that would inspire them. The sense of the Muse granting gifts to people expanded to include all kinds of human accomplishments and aspirations. Thus the term “MUSEUM” built on MUSE, originally in Alexandria, as a collection of the works of the gods. Some of our streets here in New Orleans are named after the Muses: Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia (Polyhymnia), Urania, and Calliope.
We all know this sense that the divine is operating in the giftedness of humans, that a beautiful song or poem or dance is accomplished through the inspiration of the divine. A lyric comes upon you from some unknown source. If you do not write it down, it will be gone. You grope for a pen and paper on the nightstand, hoping you can capture this inspiration before it dissipates.
The existence of the Muses in Greek and Roman Mythology is one of many indications that the divine nature is at work in human understanding and accomplishment. Since we believe that all people are made in the image of God, then we also believe that God is able to work even through those who do not know Christ to accomplish his will and his purpose. We also believe that human talents, intellect, and understanding are gifts from God. That is why, from the accidental discovery of penicillin, to the theory of relativity, we credit God and give thanks to him for human accomplishment.
Use Your Gift
Having a gift is one thing. Using it is another. You might as well not have the gift if you are not going to use it.
You will notice that the Apostle includes a little instruction with each of the gifts he mentions. In every case he is urging the use of your gift.
- If you have the gift of service, then serve, for heaven’s sake. This encouragement is necessary because so many people do not use their gifts. Some use their gifts at various eras in their lives and suspend their use in other times.
- The dormant gift is both a comment on the character of the one who has suspended the use of his or her gift and a comment on their relationship to the God who has given it.
Your gift is not your own. It belongs to God, first and foremost, and it belongs to your church, the other members of the Body who depend upon you to exercise your gift just as they are exercising their gifts in the Body.
The Body will not work properly if members are withholding their gifts. First Baptist New Orleans has all the gifts within the body that are necessary to accomplish everything that God calls us to do. Yet if those gifts are withheld, we are crippled as a church. We do not grow as we should.
- Your gift energizes the body of believers
And those members will never experience all that God intends to do through them and in their circles of influence if they refuse to use their gifts.
Connect Your Gift to Virtue
The embarrassing and troubling behavior of highly gifted athletes is nothing new. The true heroes are the ones who, though highly gifted, operate in kindness and humility.
Fame and fortune are not excuses for bad behavior.
Prophesy—a discourse or instruction emanating from divine inspiration that expresses the word of God.
“Prophesy in accordance with your faith”--