Text: 1 Peter
I Peter 4:10 “As every man has received a gift, even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
When we receive a spiritual gift as God says we all have received a spiritual gift, we become stewards of the grace of God. Now if you and I understand fully what that phrase means, “stewards of the grace of God”, we’ll understand that it is a very serious and solemn statement. The word “steward” literally means “one who governed a household”. It was a person who received from his master a valuable piece of property or the care or management of the estate and was to manage and govern that for the master. Then when the master returned, he was to give an accounting of his stewardship. This is the reason the Bible says, “moreover it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”
Understanding that, you need to get this picture. God has actually taken the grace of God and placed it in our hands and makes us the administrators of His grace. Imagine that God would take the grace which is able to save, the grace which is God Himself in His loving activity, the diverse grace of God indicating the diversity of gifts, and place it in my hands and your hands. He entrusts to you and me the grace of God in the form of a spiritual gift and you are to administer that grace and to govern the use of that grace. That is a terrible responsibility because the word always carries with it the idea of accounting. There is a time when you and I will have to give to God an accounting of how we managed and administrated the grace of God that He entrusted to us.
You remember in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the parable of a master who has three servants who were stewards and he was to go on a long journey and he gathered his three stewards before him, and gave to one ten talents, another five talents and another one talent. It was a wedge of gold, a very valuable piece of property and when the master returned he called each one into his presence and each one had to give an accounting as to what he had done with the talents, the opportunity, the stewardship his master had left him. Jesus made a very significant statement when He said, “To him that has much more shall be given and to him that does not use what he has, it shall be taken away.” The dominant theme of that parable is that God is going to judge you and me on the basis of my stewardship.
I have a spiritual gift and God holds me accountable for that. When I stand before Him at the judgment seat of Christ He is going to say, “I gave you a supernatural endowment, I gave you a supernatural ability to do certain things for my glory and for the sake of the church and I want to know, how did you do?”
That truth leads me to ask three questions. First, when did I get this gift and how do I get a gift? Second, how do I know what my gift is? If I am going to have to give an account of how I use my gift, I ought to know what my gift is. Third, if God is going to judge me on how I exercise that gift, then I ought to know how to exercise it.
Those are the three points of the message: receiving, identifying and exercising your spiritual gift. We’ll take them one by one.
1. RECEIVING YOUR SPIRITUAL GIFT. When did I receive my spiritual gift or how does a person receive his spiritual gift? The most important thing is that you have a gift, not how you received it or when you received it. But we really need to have some idea of how we received our gift and when we received it because as we look at the various gifts perhaps some of them appeal to us more than others. What am I to do then? Am I to take the list and pick out the one that I want and put in my order and say,” Now, Lord, this is the gift I want. I have chose this one and please give me this gift.” Is this the way I receive a spiritual gift?
Let me say at the beginning that spiritual gifts are sovereignly bestowed. The Holy Spirit is the distributor of the gifts. If you will look in I Corinthians 12, you will find this emphasized in several places. For instance in verse 11, he says “but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will”.
As we examine these gifts you need to keep in mind that Paul continues to go back and forth from the image of the human body to the truth of spiritual gifts .The body of Christ is like unto a physical, human body and the gifts that God has given to every member are like the different members of that body. He says in verse 18, “but now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased Him.” In other words, when God created the physical body, he arranged it the way it pleased Him and Paul says in the same way God has arranged the gifts of the Spirit in the body as it has pleased Him.
He says practically the same in verse 28, . . . “and God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets….”. The thing I want to emphasize is that it says in verse 18 and 28 that God has done the setting. God set forth these members. A man does not choose to be an apostle, a man does not choose to be a teacher. He does not choose to be a miracle worker. That does not lie within his province. God is the one that chooses.
Then in Romans 12:6, “having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us….”. What determines our gift? The will of the Holy Spirit, the pleasure of the Father, the grace of God which is given to us. The Holy Spirit is the one who chooses which gift is to be bestowedupon which person.
Someone asked me the other day what about I Corinthians 12:31 where Paul says, “but covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way”. And then in I Corinthians 14:1, “follow after love and desire spiritual gifts but rather that you may prophesy”
Now the word translated in verse 1, chapter 14 “desire” and translated “covet” in 12:31 are the same Greek word, just translated differently. And the word means to “prize”, to be zealous after, to be devoted to, to cherish.
Now Paul is speaking to the church, not to individuals and Paul is not telling an individual that he is to seek a certain gift but rather that the church is to prize the greater gifts. The Corinthians had been abusing some of the gifts. They had been exalting some gifts above others. Paul does say that there is a distinction in the gifts but God has to make that distinction. The Corinthians needed to alter their desires, their opinion, their evaluation of the gifts.., They had taken some gifts and had elevated them to a position above other gifts and Paul is rebuking them for this and he is saying that as a church they need to prize and be devoted to the greater gifts indicating that there are degrees of value in the gifts that are given. Paul is not encouraging a Christian here to seek a particular gift.
What about I Corinthians 14:5 where he says “I would that you all spake with tongues but rather that you prophesied….” Someone said to me not long ago that there Paul was saying that everybody ought to have the same gift the gift of tongues. Perhaps Paul could have said, “I would that everybody have the gift of prophecy” or “I would that everybody have the gift of healing”. What about that verse?
It is an amazing thing about the apostle Paul. Even though the Corinthian church had abused the gift of tongues, Paul refused to speak despairingly of that gift. He said I have that gift, I exercise the gift probably more than all of you. And he says, “I would that you would all speak with tongues”. He was indicating there his own personal desire. For instance in I Corinthians 7:7, he uses the same words, the same language. He says, “1 would that all men were even as I myself….”, talking to men. He said I wish you were all like myself unmarried. I don’t think we would take I Corinthians 7:7 as saying that every man ought to be unmarried. He is indicating here a personal desire. He says, “I speak with tongues…. it has blessed me it has edified me, I could wish that all of you would have this”. But he is not saying a command from the Lord that everybody is to have the same gift or that we have the right to choose a particular gift..
Paul has said basically three things about spiritual gifts in these chapters. He says that all gifts have their value, all are set in the church by God Himself and some are more valuable than others. But it is God who chooses who has which gift. They are sovereignly bestowed.
It is my conviction that a man receives his spiritual gift when he receives the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are the manifestations of the Spirit Himself. The gift is how the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in a person’s life and when a person receives the Holy Spirit he receives the gifts of the Spirit..
For instance, in Acts 2, when did they speak in tongues? When they received the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10, when did Cornelius speak in tongues? When he received the Holy Spirit a his salvation. When did the Ephesian disciples speak in tongues in Acts 19? When they received the Holy Spirit at their salvation. Not only did they speak in tongues, they also prophesied. If you will notice in Acts 10 and Acts 19, those gifts were not post-salvation experiences. They were not second blessings, but they were simultaneous with salvation. When they received the Spirit of God, they received their spiritual gift and it seems to me that the scriptures indicate and we will see more about this later, that a man receives his spiritual gift at the moment he receives the Spirit Himself, the Holy Spirit of God. I had not originally intended to get into what I am going to get into right now, but I feel that it is profitable for us to do it.
When does a man receive the Holy Spirit? There have been volumes of books written and older books republished on this matter of the Holy Spirit and this matter of charismatic gifts. I have tried to read all that I could get my hands on, even those that I did not agree with, to try to understand exactly what is being taught. At the end of one popular book there is listed seven steps to receiving the Holy Spirit. I think it is very essential that we take time to discuss this matter of when a man receives the Holy Spirit of God.
There is a very popular teaching that you receive the Holy Spirit after salvation. They point to Acts 2 and Acts 8 when Philip went down to Samaria and he preached. The people were saved but then Peter and John came to Samaria , laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. People take these two instances and say that these people received the Holy Spirit, were baptized by the Spirit after salvation.. That is true in those instances .
It has been written and taught so much today that God gave the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and He doesn’t give it anymore, that now we must receive Him. So after a person is saved you inform him about the Holy Spirit.. God does not give Him the Spirit because God has already given the Spirit at Pentecost. They say every person must receive the Holy Spirit just as he received Jesus Christ.
In the first place, to me that seems to be splitting hairs over whether God is giving it or whether we are receiving it. In one of the classic books written on this there is a statement that says that the Bible never says that God gives the Holy Spirit, it is always that men received it. That statement is not true. In Acts 11:17 as Peter is rehearsing the experience with Cornelius, he says, “For as much then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I, that I could withstand God?” Peter is saying that when the Spirit of God fell upon Cornelius and they spoke in tongues that God gave them the gift.
It is my belief that a man receives the Spirit of God at conversion, at salvation. Now there were two exceptions and we will discuss those in a moment.
Acts 2:38 , Peter said on the day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the Holy Ghost” or you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The word “receive” is in the aorist tense which indicates you shall receive THEN and THERE, not future tense, not a perhaps, not a conditional clause. He says “….you shall receive… “. What was the condition of their receiving the Holy Spirit. It was the condition of salvation, of turning from their sins, of repenting and confessing Jesus Christ, having their sins remitted. Then they received the Holy Ghost.
In Acts 11:17, we read a moment ago that Peter said, “For as much then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…” When did God give them that gift? When they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
In John 7:39 Jesus speaks about the rivers of living water that flow out of our innermost being and he says, “But this spake He of the Spirit which they that believe on Him should receive…” When would they receive Him? What was the condition of receiving the Holy Spirit? It was believing on Jesus.
Roman 8:9 says, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His.” I Corinthians 3 and I Corinthians 6 says our body is the dwelling place, the temple of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God. Galatians 3:3 says that they”….begun in the Spirit”. In the second verse it says, “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Again in Galatians 4:6, “And because you are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba Father”. What is the condition of receiving the Holy Spirit? Because you are sons.
In I John you have the presence of the Holy Spirit as proof of our salvation. I John 3:24 , “And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him and He in him. And hereby we know that He abided in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.”
I John 4:13….”Hereby know we that we dwell in Him and He in us because He hath given us of His Spirit.”
I John 5:10…. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness within himself….”
Romans 8:16 says “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God”.
Someone said to me not long ago that a man or woman receives their spiritual gift and even receives the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. I just feel that I need to say a word about this matter of laying on of hands and it’s relationship of receiving the Holy Spirit or receiving a spiritual gift.
The laying on of hands was used four different ways in the scriptures. I’ll just mention these briefly.
First it was used as an act of consecration, a setting apart someone for service. The laying on of hands was to consecration what baptism was to salvation. It symbolized this person had been saved. The laying on of hands was a symbol this person had been consecrated.
It was used as a commendation. Paul says in I Timothy 5:22, “Lay hands suddenly on no man…”. Laying on of hands was a symbol of approval.
It was used to signify a commissioning. In acts 13: 3 when the Spirit of God said to set apart and send out Paul and Barnabus as missionaries, the church laid hands on them. It was the church commissioning them.
The laying on of hands was used for communication. To communicate sin from one person to an animal in the book of Leviticus over and over again., They would lay hands on the sheep or goat and the sins of the people would be communicated.
It was used to communicate authority or position from one person to another. Moses laid his hands on Joshua and communicated to him his authority and his position.
It was used to communicate blessing. Jesus laid his hands on the children and blessed them.
It was used to communicate healing as Jesus would lay his hands on people it was not essential because he would also heal people without the laying on of hands.
It was also used to communicate the Holy Spirit. The apostles had a special gift, a special dispensation to bestow the Holy Spirit upon certain people. In Acts 8 Phillip was preaching, the people were saved, but he did not lay hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit. Peter and John came and they laid hands on them to receive the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10, Peter did not lay hands on Cornelius, it wasn’t necessary. It is never necessary. Sometimes it is done. Acts 19 Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. In II Timothy 1:6 Paul says to Timothy, “stir up the gift which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” The preposition there means “immediate agency”. In other words the agency of Timothy receiving his spiritual gift was the laying on of hands of the Apostle Paul. So the apostles had a special, supernatural ability to communicate the Holy Spirit to certain individuals. Those were special cases.
In Acts 8 the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit after they were saved by the laying on of hands. They were the Samaritans. . . .the half Jews Jesus said you should go into Jerusalem , Judea , Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth. In Acts 10 when the Holy Spirit came in that way it was the Gentiles being saved. In Acts 19 it was the disciples of John the Baptist, old testament believers really that received the Holy Spirit after they were saved. Every time an unusual occurrence such as that happened, it was a special forward thrust in Christian history. Only the apostles had the ability to communicate the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. In Acts 9 Annanias, that disciple, came to Paul after Paul was saved and the bible said he laid his hands on him to receive his healing and to be filled with the spirit. It doesn’t say that he received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands
The Bible makes a very careful distinction between the filling of the Spirit and the receiving of the Spirit. For instance in Acts 4:31 those disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit but they had already received the Spirit. The only ones in the book of Acts that had the ability to communicate a spiritual gift of the Holy Spirit Himself through the laying on of hands were the original apostles including Paul who was chosen by God by divine special revelation Since we no longer have these apostles I see nowhere in scripture where it indicates that anybody today has the ability to lay hands on somebody and by the laying on of hands actually communicate to them the Holy Spirit or a spiritual gift. It is not necessary to have hands layed on for anything. God did not work that way all the time.
As I study this, the thing that impresses me over and over again is the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit the variety by which the Holy Spirit works. For instance, on the day of Pentecost when He manifested Himself there was the rushing wind, the cloven tongues of fire, and the languages. But in Acts 10 there were just the tongues, no cloven tongues of fire, no rushing wind. Acts 8 doesn’t mention any manifestation. In Acts 19 there were tongues and prophecy. In Acts 4 when they were filled there was just an earthquake that shook the place. The Holy Spirit manifested Himself differently every time and leads me to say that we cannot put the Holy Spirit in a straight-jacket and say the Holy Spirit will always, must always manifest Himself in a particular way. He just will not be caged in. He has the freedom and the sovereignty to manifest Himself any way He wants to.
We receive the Spirit of God at salvation as a gift from God when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. And when the Spirit of God comes to indwell us it is my belief this is when we receive our spiritual gift. Paul says we all have a spiritual gift and the only way every Christian in the world could have a spiritual gift would be to receive it at salvation because they certainly are not all filled with the Spirit. All the tenses that Paul and Peter used talking about the spiritual gifts are in the past tense. It is always the fact that they HAVE received a gift. Not the fact that they can or the fact that they may.
The figure of a body leads me to believe that we receive our gift at salvation. When did your hand become a hand? At birth. At salvation we are placed in the body of Christ. We become a member of the body of Christ. You have a spiritual gift if you are saved, sovereignly bestowed upon you. Not because you chose it but because it pleased God to give you a spiritual gift. Now that gift may lie dormant for years and years. Paul says to Timothy, “stir up the gift of God which is in thee.” It’s possible for a spiritual gift to be atrophied. It’s possible for a Christian in carnality and idleness to live his life without exercising properly that spiritual gift and one day, perhaps, when he is filled with the Spirit he realizes he has a spiritual gift and he begins to exercise it.
2. HOW CAN I RECOGNIZE MY SPIRITUAL GIFT? Let me say first that it is really not essential that you know what your gift is. I believe it is good and important and I think you can know. But it is not essential that you know what your spiritual gift is. Paul said to Timothy, “the gift which is in thee”. The gift is a part of us and every Christian who is obedient to the head and serves the Lord as God leads him and gives him opportunity is exercising his spiritual gift.
If you have been obedient to the head, if you have served the Lord as He led you and gave you opportunity, you have been exercising your spiritual gift whether you knew what it was or not. How does a hand know what to do? It simply is obedient to the head. How does a foot know what to do? It is simply obedient to the head. How does a hand or a foot exercise it’s spiritual gift? By doing what comes naturally. How does a Christian exercise his spiritual gift? By doing what comes supernaturally. The gift is a part of your life. You are your gift. That is why Paul says some are teachers, some are miracle workers there is one who exhorts. It doesn’t say he has the office of exhortation and between the hours of 8 and 5, Monday through Friday he exhorts. No, he is one who is continually exhorting. You are your gift. As a Christian simply lives his life in obedience to the head, he is exercising his spiritual whether he knows what it is or not. You don’t have to manipulate, maneuver and politic and work and struggle to exercise your gift. You just live your life under his leadership.
Now, having said that it is not essential to know your gift, I’ll give you some suggestions about how you may know it. I have four suggestions to make.
First…. Personal Inclination. What is your desire? What is your motivation and leaning? I Examine your special concerns. What do you want to do? Your spiritual gift will lie in the direction of your desire and your desire under God will lie in the direction of your spiritual gift. For instance, a man who has the gift of showing mercy wants to show mercy. A man who has the gift of teaching wants to teach he enjoys teaching. That is why I can preach for an hour and not mind it. Maybe one of you will have the gift of listening one of these days. Examine your desires. There will be an inner witness.
It has to be a desire to do it God’s way. It is possible that your desire may be nothing more than a carnal desire. For instance, some people may want to rule but they don’t want to do it God’s way. That is not a gift. That is a greed. That is not the final test because it is possible for you to have a desire that is nothing more than a carnal desire and is not really a God-given desire that you have. By way of illustration, for years I wanted to be an evangelist. From the moment I surrendered to preach I knew that God wanted me to be an evangelist. At my ordination I was so shaken up when my pastor said, “Now, Ron, God has not called you to be another Billy Graham” Well, I knew he had. For years I tried to be an evangelist. One day it finally dawned upon me I that I was manipulating and maneuvering and trying to work out something that I thought God wanted me to do. So, your personal inclination is not the final test but it is the first hint. What do you enjoy doing?
Second…There will be a public recognition of that. And that will come in two ways. The church will use it. There will be given to you opportunities to minister your gift. If you are interested in knowing what your gift is, answer this question. Where has God already used me in I the body of Christ? Look for those repeated areas where you find places of service.. This is one of the reasons it finally dawned upon me that I wasn’t an evangelist. I nearly starved to death. After I ran through my close friends, where was I to preach? When a man is in his proper place exercising his proper gift, he doesn’t have to try to drum up business. I would see other fellows that weren’t as experienced as I was in preaching and they were busy all the time. They weren’t starving to death. The church was using them. What really confused me was that some of those fellows never sent out a letter, never printed a brochure, never politicked, it just came. Why? They were exercising their gift and God was seeing to it that they had opportunity.
Not only will the church use it but God will bless it. Paul says in I Corinthians 12:7 that these spiritual gifts are given to profit withall, profit everyone. And when you exercise your spiritual gift it will profit the body of Christ. God will bless it and it will minister life and health to those people. For instance, a person who has the gift of showing mercy just seems to attract people who seem to need mercy.
There was a lady in our church who had the gift of mercy and she attracted people all the time. In fact several of the people that I baptized were saved because of the mercy she showed them. I know people who have the gift of evangelism who have the strangest, most miraculous opportunities to witness and win people that you ever saw and they minister that gift effectively. A person who has the gift of helps, people will just seek him out. You don’t have to put up a sign that says, “Open for business”. You will be able to help people effectively and God will bless it. Now are any of you getting a clue as to what your spiritual gift is? Where has God given you opportunities? Where has God opened the doors? One of the tragic things is that God will open a door over here and we are still waiting for another door to open. Where you have opportunity to serve and your desire lies in that direction and God blesses it and people are blessed or profited and you minister life, you can know that is a spiritual gift from God.
In Acts 6 when they ordained those original deacons I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if those apostles when they laid hands on them did not communicate to them the gift of ministering. And when they exercised that ministry of ministering, the Bible says the Word of God through the believers multiplied. God will bless it.
Third……By Prophetic declaration.. This is exceptional in discovering your spiritual gift. In I Timothy 4:14 and 1:18 Paul speaks of Timothy having his spiritual gift by prophecy. . . . “the prophecies that were spoken concerning thee”. And it seems that the Apostle Paul or someone else received a prophetic word, made a prophecy about Timothy and said you will be such and so. I almost hesitate to mention this because I don’t want people running around to other people saying, “You are to be a missionary.” “You have the gift of giving”. There are times when a man knows his spiritual gift by prophetic declaration. Young George W. Truett, was studying to be a lawyer, and his church said “You are to be ordained as our Pastor”. George Truett said, “But I have sought to be a lawyer.” The church said, “But God has called you to be a preacher.”
I believe that it was Spurgeon (I reserve the right to change this if I learn differently) who one day when he was a child of seven was in the garden and a great preacher was visiting in their home and laid his hand on the shoulder of young Charles Spurgeon and said, “Son, some day you will be a great preacher of the gospel”. There are other illustrations of famous men in history where years before God had given somebody a word of prophecy.
Fourth…..There will be a Proper Confession. Not all supernatural gifts come from the Holy Spirit. In Matthew 7 Jesus said, “many will say to me in that day, have we not cast out demons, have we not prophesied in thy name, have we not worked miracles in thy name?” And Jesus said unto them, “I never knew you” Paul in II Thessalonians indicates that as the end time comes, there will be counterfeits who will come working miracles as though miracles of God but yet they are the spirit of antichrist. There are supernatural gifts that are not from God.
How do you know? He tells us in I Corinthians 12:3, “I give you to understand that no man speaking by the Holy Spirit calleth Jesus accursed and that no man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Spirit.” If a man is real, if he is of God, he will always put Jesus Christ in His proper place and that is on the throne. Any movement, any work, any ministry that puts anything above Jesus Christ in affection, in allegiance, in attention, is not of the Spirit of God. He that is of the spirit of God and receives his word from the Spirit of God always puts Jesus Christ in His proper place. And that is on the throne.
3. HOW DO I EXERCISE MY SPIRITUAL GIFT? If God is going to hold me accountable as to how I exercise my gift, then how do I do it? I have four suggestions but let me’ preface this by saying that the gifts are subject to misuse. You can misuse the gifts of the Spirit as the Corinthians did. So it is necessar5r to understand the proper way to exercise your gifts.
First…There must be proper acceptance of your gift. Now this is what Paul is bringing out in Romans 12. There can be no discontent with your gift. There can be no dissatisfaction with your gift. I wish I didn’t have this gift, I wish I had that gift. The first thing you have to do is to accept your gift because it is from God. Paul says that every man must evaluate himself, size up his gift according to the measure of faith that God has given to every man. And the measure of faith is simply that ability that God has given, that mountain-moving faith, for a man to exercise his gift. Now when he says the “measure of faith”, it doesn’t mean that some have more faith than others, but that God has measured out to each man faith in which to exercise his gift. That measure is a limitation and that measure is for that particular gift. If you exercise the gift God has given you, God gives you the faith, the power, the ability to exercise that gift effectively. You must evaluate and accept your gift according to the measure of faith which God has given to every person. God has given me a measure of faith and that measure is for the exercise of my particular gift. If I step out of that gift, God has not given me a measure of faith to exercise another man’s gift. I stick with my gift. “He that hath the gift of teaching, let him teach.” “He that has the gift of exhortation, let him exhort.” “He that has the gift of ministry, let him minister it.” Be satisfied with your gift.
Two….There must be a proper assessment of your gift.. This is in Romans 12:3 and following. First, there must be no superior attitude. A man ought not to think more highly of himself than he ought. Because you have a gift that so and so doesn’t, you are not supposed to think you have a spiritual edge because you have a gift someone else doesn’t have. Secondly, there is to be no inferior attitude. Let a man think soberly. Simply because you don’t have a more spectacular gift, you are not to have an inferior attitude. You will never be able to exercise your gift properly if you think your gift is inferior and that makes you inferior.
Three…There must be a proper application of that gift. Now the Bible gives us several suggestions about the gift.
First, do not neglect it. I Timothy 4:14 says “Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you..” God will hold you accountable.
Second, in II Timothy 1:6 he says to “stir the gift up”, indicating our responsibility. Indicating that the gift may become atrophied. The “stir up” is used of rekindling a fire, causing a blaze. You don’t need a new gift, you just need to stir up the one you have. There are times that I need to stir up the gift God has given me. I begin to neglect it, the fire begins to burn low, coldness comes in and I find that I am exercising my gift out of mere duty and ritual and ceremony. Paul says set it on fire!
Thirdly, we are to minister this gift to others. This has to do with the attitude. We are not to take this gift and use it for our own glorification, our own profit, but rather Peter says “as every man has received a gift so let him minister the same one to another.” You are to use this gift in the service and for the good of the body of Christ. That verb indicates you are to do this all the time. You never turn off your gift.
I spoke on the phone to a preacher who was in town today and all he did was talk about the Lord and how God was dealing with him in certain areas of scripture. When we hung up the phone I said to myself, “He is always what he is”. He is not one thing in the pulpit and then when he steps out he turns it off and all of his talk and interest then lie in secular things. You know I have been with some preachers that never want to talk about the things of God or share the word of God outside the pulpit. They just turn it off. Peter says you are to minister this all the time. If you have the gift of mercy, you show mercy no matter where you are. If you are at a ballgame, if you are on vacation, if you are in the church. You see, it is the life that you live. Exercise your gift for the good of others all the time.
Fourthly, exercise that gift in such a way that will glory God. I Peter 11:4 says that all of this is to be done “for the glory of God”. Now there are ways you can exercise your gift that will glorify you and will attract attention to you rather than glorifying God.
Four..Proper adjustment of the gift. Ephesians 4:16 says that every joint is to be properly adjusted to the head and when it is properly adjusted to the head, then it supplies for the good of the body and the body is built up in love. The head is Jesus Christ. It is my conviction that every time you exercise your gift outside the Lordship of Jesus Christ God rejects it as far as reward is concerned. Because then it becomes simply a work of the flesh rather than a work of God.
Are you properly adjusted to the head? You may have the gift of evangelism and lead hundreds to Jesus without being properly adjusted to the head and God will judge you for working in the flesh on judgment day.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003