Each of your should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4: 10, 11)

Get a hold of that!

Spiritual gifts – what are they? In many people’s book, they are the reason to put themselves a cut above other believers. ‘I have the gift of . . . ‘ Tongues? Word of knowledge? Discerning of spirits? Healing? Faith? Wisdom? These all have levels of superiority. If you have this gift, or that gift, you are a very spiritual Christian – in fact, if you can speak in tongues, you have the evidence that you are ‘Spirit-filled’! Really? Is that how Paul classified a true believer?

In my Bible the evidence of a child of God is clear:

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God. (Rom. 8: 13, 14)

What is the purpose of spiritual gifts, then? Whose gifts are they? Some of us act as though they are our gifts – as though we earned them and we have them to enhance our prestige in the Christian world. God forbid! Spiritual gifts are gifts of the Spirit and they are lent to us for only one purpose – to serve the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit channels His power through ordinary human beings who are obedient to Him to minister to the needs of Jesus’s body.

We cannot claim to own any gift. The Holy Spirit gives them according to His will. He is free to give or withdraw His gifts as He chooses according to our availability and obedience. As always, we are to be stewards of God’s grace, not owners or dispensers as though we were handing out sweets t o little children. God’s gifts are a sacred trust. We cannot use them according to our whims but in obedience to His will.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them it is the same God at work. (1 Cor. 12: 4-6)

Spiritual gifts are not a title or an office but a function. Even functions like apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher are not offices or titles which give us a position in the church; they are functions which serve Jesus’s body.

So, Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. (Eph. 4: 11, 12)

How tragic that people who are supposed to serve in these functions have taken them to be titles and used them to elevate themselves over their fellow believers as the authority in the church! Even people who have had theological training think that they are a cut above unlearned believers, as though head knowledge makes them superior to everyone else.

As for you, the anointing you have received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in Him. (1 John 2:27)

Jesus chose relatively uneducated men to be His disciples so that He could teach them His truth and send them out to replicate Him in the world.

Spiritual gifts are a trust from God to us as His sons and daughters, not a reward for good behaviour, to be used to serve His people, not to enrich ourselves or to enhance our reputation. They will always remain His gifts, not ours. We are accountable to Him for what we do with them. We are to be stewards of His grace as faithful servants, always keeping the mind-set of a servant.

God’s grace is multi-faceted, ministering healing, deliverance and hope to the broken and helpless. He apportions His gifts of grace to reliable stewards who will use and not prostitute His gifts for the enrichment of self or others. In that spirit, let us give freely to the needy of that which He has given us.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Luella Campbell

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