Exalting God, Edifying Believers, Evangelizing the Lost

Using Our Spiritual Gifts

spiritual gifts working together

The Bible tells us those who are true believers and followers of Christ in salvation are given spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit.

There are a whole host of different spiritual gifts that He gives including teaching, administration, giving, mercy, helps, and evangelism. Each believer has one or probably more than one gift that God is ready to use to fulfill His purpose for them within the Body of Christ, the Church.

No one gift or mix of gifts is more important than another, and all are necessary to the proper functioning of the Church.  What is important is whether you are using your gifts.

Paul tells us in Romans 12:6,

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

So we are all responsible to use our spiritual gifts.

What is the purpose?  The answer is clear in 1 Corinthians 14:12 – forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Our spiritual gifts are not given to us for our own benefit or to make us a “better Christian.”  Our spiritual gifts are for the purpose of edifying other believers, and in turn, building up the body of Christ.

What are you doing with the gifts that God has given you?

The “Pinky Fingers” of the Church

Hand sign showing little finger waiting for another to hook little finger together that meaning of promise and meaning asking for reconciled to someone.

Have you ever thought about how important your little finger is? Your pinky finger actually does a lot more than you think.

According to medical professionals, losing your pinky could mean losing up to fifty percent of your hand strength.  While your thumb, index finger and middle finger do most of the intricate work, your pinky teams up with your ring finger to provide power to the hand.

Who would have thought that your little finger was so important?

In the body of Christ, we have “pinky finger” members as well.  They may see themselves as not important, since they are not able to sing, preach, teach, or administrate.

But every member is important in Christ’s body. In fact, many times it is these “pinky finger” members that provide strength to the church just by being there.

They are the ones that provide encouragement through a hug or comforting word. Or they might be the ones who do the “dirty work” of cleaning and taking care of the church property.

1Corinthians 12:22 says: 

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

The truth is that all believers have spiritual gifts that they can use to build up the body of Christ.  It doesn’t matter how small you may think your gifts are—God’s church needs all the “pinky finger” members to do their part.

Why Do You Go to Church?

Lots of people go to church regularly because, in their minds, it is the right thing to do. The real question, though, is not IF we go to church, but WHY we go to church. 

Just having the habit of going to church is not going to make a significant difference in your life if you go only because you should.  Neither will it make much difference if you go for what you get out of it.

The reason we should be in church is so that we are there to help and encourage others to grow in the Lord.  Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us:

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” 

Our goal in going to church is not for what we get out of it, but what we can put into it. Specifically, we go for the opportunity to build others up in love and encourage them to do the same.

This is why God wants us to meet every week—because we need each other spiritually.

Who is it this week that needs exactly what you have to offer through encouragement and exhortation?

The Hypocrisy of Being Offended

How often do we get offended by what someone says to us or about us?

The offense usually comes because what the person said is either not true or not kind. Even if the person’s intent was to actually hurt us with their words, there is still no reason for us as believers to get upset or offended.

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 tells us:

Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee:  For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others.

Even if a person curses us, God has given us the grace to ignore the offense and be ready to forgive.

Part of the reason we can forgive is that every one of us is probably guilty of saying hurtful things to others.  If we get offended when someone else does to us exactly what we have done to others, we are hypocrites.

Christ taught us in the “Golden Rule” that we should treat others as we would want to be treated.  If you desire forgiveness from others when you are the offender, then set the standard by being ready to forgive even before someone offends you.

This is one way that we can fulfill Christ’s command to “love one another.”

Judge Yourself, Not Others

Concept of accusation guilty person girl. Side profile sad upset woman looking down many fingers pointing at her back isolated on grey office wall background. Human face expression emotion feeling

The Lord has told us very plainly that we should refrain from judging one another (Matthew 7:1).

What He meant by that is that we are not to judge the lives of other people by our own convictions and standards.  To hold everyone else to our own personal standards is called legalism, and it is exactly what Christ condemned the Pharisees for.

Romans 14:13 gives us the alternative to judging others:

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” 

Instead of judging others, we should be judging ourselves–not according to the “law” of our own standards and convictions, but according to the Law of Christ, which is to love one another. Paul says our goal should be to avoid causing an offense to others rather than making sure they don’t offend us.

After all, God is our true Judge, and He will judge each of us according to His Law, not our own.

Tyranny of the Weak vs. the Law of Christ

As believers, we are free in Christ. There is a common philosophy, though, called the “Tyranny of the Weak,” which states that since our freedom is in Christ, the lack of knowledge of “immature” believers should not affect how we live out our Christian liberty, even if what we do offends them.

Actually, Paul addresses this very thinking in I Corinthians 8:9:

“But take heed, lest this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”

Paul goes on to say in verse 12, that when we cause a “weaker” brother to stumble, we sin both against them and against Christ.

The Bible defines the “Law of Christ” as living in love one toward another. That means that everyone else’s well being will be more important than our own.

So the liberty that we have in Christ is not the freedom to defend our own rights and convictions. It is the freedom to give up our rights in order to avoid offending others as we seek to build them up in the faith.

After all, that is the essence of Christian love.

Christian Liberty: License or Love?

As evidenced in our current culture, the ideas of “liberty and freedom” are regularly misconstrued to mean that we are allowed to do whatever we want.

If you watch the news at all, you can see that this faulty idea of freedom only propagates an environment of anarchy and division, rather than creating an environment of unity and love. This is true in a nation, a family, or a church.

In Galatians 5:13, Paul tells us what true liberty looks like:

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Basically, he is saying that true liberty is more about loving others than about having license to satisfy ourselves.

In 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul says “…all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”  His point is that real liberty focuses on what is best for others, not on what is allowable for me.

As believers, then, we have been freed from the bondage of selfishness and sin to have the liberty to serve others in love.

Is your practice of liberty based on “because I can,” or because you love others?

Big Church, or Strong Church?

There are a lot of big churches out there today that keep getting larger, but just having a lot of people in services does not mean that a church is strong.

God measures church growth by more than just attendance.

Ephesians 4:11-13 tells us that God gave the church specific types of leaders, including pastors and teachers. Their job is to help other people grow spiritually so that everyone can participate in ministry.

Big churches may not be strong churches; and strong churches may not be big churches.

Ephesians 4:13 defines the goal of a strong church:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” 

God measures church growth by the maturity of the believers that make up a local church.  And the more mature believers become, the more they will minister to others to help them mature in Christ as well.

The goal of church growth is not necessarily a large congregation.  God’s goal for church growth is a spiritually mature congregation made up of believers that serve each other.

The Foundation of the Church

In Matthew 16, when Jesus asks His disciples who they thought He was, Peter quickly answers, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (vs 16). Jesus responds in verse 18, saying, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

At first glance, it seems that Christ was saying that He was going to build His church starting with Peter as the foundation stone.  That is the position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Yet, Jesus was actually saying that He would build His church on the truth that Peter had just proclaimed, not on Peter himself.

This is evident in Jesus’ first response in verse 17 to Peter about his proclamation: “…flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”

Jesus Christ is both the founder and the foundation of the church.

1 Corinthians 3:11 tells us,

”For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 2:20 states clearly that Jesus Christ Himself is the chief corner stone.

The church was not founded by or upon a man; it was founded by and upon Jesus Christ, our rock and the cornerstone of our faith.

Controlling Our Flesh

Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

The point of this proverb is that a person who has no control over his appetites is prone to give in to all kinds of temptation.  He has no limits on how he fulfills his fleshly appetites and, therefore, has no control over what he becomes or how he acts.

As believers, we are instructed to be careful about feeding our fleshly appetites.  Galatians 5:24 says that

they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

As believers, we should not let our lives be controlled by what makes us feel good or what makes us happy. We should be controlled by what pleases God and what makes us holy.

Galatians 5:25 calls this “walking in the Spirit” and it is at the heart of temperance, or self-control.  It is about living less for and in the flesh, and more by the Spirit of God.

God’s goal for us is to become less like the world and more like Christ. 

If our goal is the same as God’s, we will limit how much we fill ourselves with the things of the world, and desire more to be filled with the things of God.