Gifts for Giving

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. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Rom.12:6-11).

The gift of prophesy, the gift of teaching, the gift of encouraging, the gift of leadership, the gift of mercy, the gift of discernment, the gift of healing, the gift of tongues, etc.--what does it all mean? For some in Paul’s day, it meant having reason to assert one’s own position as higher than another. It meant having a reason to stir up strife and sow division in the Body of Christ. It meant having another reason to focus on self rather than God. Of course this is not what God intended spiritual gifts to be used for, but just as we do with so much else, if we think that it is ours then we think we can do with it as we want--even if what is given was given for the soul purpose of giving it away.

Scripture tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17), and that “whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). We are also told in God’s Word that, “ As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1Pt.4:10) and “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1Cor.4:2). It should be clear to us that whatever God gives us is not ours to do with as we choose. We have not come to accept God’s gifts, or His salvation, so that we can tuck them away for personal and private pleasures. We are given a charge with what God has allowed us to have (which is anything we have), and that is that we are to share it as He directs--even giving to the point of giving our very lives. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1Cor.6:19).

Controversy in the early church arose over the spiritual gifts of God. The very gifts that God had given to be used to minster to the Body of Christ, were being twisted by impure and selfish motives, and were being used instead to ‘minister’ to the self. Some were claiming that one gift meant more than another, perhaps to seek to lead the church to believe that they should pay attention to those who had certain gifts more than to they who had others. But God gave differing gifts so that the Church body could be fully functional--filling all the gaps to meet all of the needs. But things and people being as they are, so many sought to use there new found gift as a means to draw attention to themselves instead of to God.

I remember a time that I met with a friend over coffee to talk about some issues in his life. Things were going well until he paused and said, “You know, I really see Jesus in you right now.” That was all it took for me to instantly turn my eyes inward. It was as though my flesh decided to try to build my ego and puff up my pride, and use my friends words as the fuel to do it. But God quickly helped me to adjust and see that my eyes were no longer focused on God or the person in front of me, but on myself. I thank God He helped me to recover my focus quickly, and that He taught me a valuable lesson in that moment--the Power behind the ministry, or the gift, must remain the focus. Otherwise, if the gifts are flaunted selfishly--it is nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1Cor.13:1-2).

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