One writer put it this way as he described the gift. Think, he wrote, of the numerous works of charity which believers had to create and maintain.
Pagan society had neither hospitals nor orphanages, free schools or rescue missions like those of our day. The church, impelled by the instinct of Christian charity, had to introduce these institutions into the world and Christian assemblies took up these needful objects and had, of course, at their head, leaders who were charged with the responsibility who took the word. Welcome to Wisdom for the Heart. Over the last six broadcasts, Stephen has been taking you through a series on the church called Divine Design. The main point of this series is to help you discover where you fit in the body of Christ. You know, we're creatures of habit.
Muscle memory drives much of our daily routine from driving cars to eating to working out. And sadly, it drives much of what we do as a church as well. In today's message, Stephen challenges you to stop coasting through worship and let the Spirit of God control your life. Here's Stephen. Once upon a time, there were four people. Their names were everybody, somebody, nobody, and anybody. Whenever there was an important task to be done, everybody was sure that somebody would tackle it. When somebody didn't do it, it fell to nobody and nobody gladly did it. But when nobody tackled the job, everybody got angry because it was somebody's job.
So everybody blames somebody when nobody did what anybody could have done in the first place. I know it's kind of deep, but it sure gets to the point, doesn't it? You know, we come to the conclusion of our study on the subject of spiritual gifts, finding your fit in the body of Christ. And we have identified a gift or defined it as a divine enablement to serve the body of Christ and the cause of Christ with special effectiveness.
And we're going to wrap our study up today. And before we get into the latter part of this text, I would be remiss not to mention several warnings. I've hinted at them, but I want to be very obvious in delivering some warnings related to certain attitudes that may come up as it relates to serving God in the arena of your spiritual gift.
The first wrong attitude says, I will not do anything except those things related to my special gift. In other words, I will only serve in the area where God has given me a special gift or enablement. They're the only places we're all served. That's it.
Try that at home. Your wife asks you to take out the trash and you say, honey, my spiritual gift is not service. It's leadership.
Haven't you been listening on Sunday morning? Don't bring me into that one. Okay. Just take out the trash. You tell your son or daughter to clean their room and they say, but dad, didn't you know my gift is not helps? I have discovered it's mercy. And you'll say you're going to need a lot of it.
Well, the believer who sort of cocoons his life around the statement, that's not my gift is not only ignorant of how the body works, he is merely masking his lack of commitment to the body of Christ as well as his own self-centeredness. There are times when you just roll up your sleeves and work. However, on the other hand of this spectrum is the exhausted servant who lives with his sleeves rolled up, never giving thought to where God may enable them to serve with special effectiveness. They just see the needs. And I would warn you of that attitude as well.
That would be the second one. I will do everything in any area as long as there are needs. That's commendable yet eventually it's self-defeating, especially when needs arise in areas where you have no desire, no training, no love for that role, no experience, no objective. The church needs more than just warm bodies to fill slots. And you might be tempted to look at the communique, which is a kind of a nice way of listing our want ads for needs. And you might say, oh, they need somebody here and here and here and here.
And I can do that and that, well, I don't know how, but I'll do it or I'll show up or whatever. Commendable, but ultimately self-defeating. Have you ever been seated by an usher and you could tell he didn't really like people? Seating you is his way of getting rid of you. Not here at this church, of course, others I've visited. Have you ever been taught by someone you knew didn't like to teach, had neither the gift nor the desire, but the opening came in the fourth grade and they took the slot, they filled the position and so to this day they're torturing a new class of fourth graders every year. Needs do not constitute the will of God.
Another attitude that needs a warning before we complete this study is this one, I will never change my arena of service. One of the interesting things to take note of as you study through the New Testament, as it relates to special gifts, every one of them could be described as developmental in the life of every Christian. In other words, as you grow in Christ, you begin to teach. Unlike the congregation that had to be excoriated by the apostle for having to continue to learn the basic truths, by now he wrote, you should be teaching.
Maybe not one to many, but one to one. You begin to develop a heart for service, you develop compassion for the needy, you desire to see God's work advanced and so you give of your resources to support it. Let me put it this way, while every believer is empowered to serve effectively in at least one area of ministry, every believer will develop in other areas of ministry as well. Which means what you are doing today may be different than what God will use you to do a week from now or a month from now or a year from now.
And so as you grow in Christ, you continue to pray for he may be developing in you even now some new thing for his service. One more attitude that needs a warning is the attitude that says, I am waiting on God to give me a special sign before I begin to use my spiritual gift. Consider this sermon series the sign.
Okay? Consider God having spoken through Paul in this chapter in neon letters, here's the letter to Romans in the listing of the gifts he has spoken. This is the sign.
You've got it in your lap. Here also the words of Paul to Timothy, reticent, hesitant, timid, Timothy. Timothy, he wrote, fan into flame, the gift of God, which is in you. Second Timothy chapter one verse six. Fan into flame, don't let the embers grow cold and die out, feed it, do it, serve in it, find it, exercise it. The truth is every one of us has a place in the puzzle of Christ's church, which means every one of us has a role to play. So here Paul saying, play it. And remember, as in any puzzle, there's no such thing as an insignificant piece.
Anywhere on the board, as we have learned, they're all either indirectly or directly interlocked. We all depend upon one another special contribution as we display the full puzzle picture to the world of the grace and the glory of God. We all have our place. Now in Romans chapter 12 verse eight, the final three gifts are provided in this short list. And I invite your attention back there. And you might notice if you're looking at this list that these last three are unique.
They stand together. And in each one, Paul gives a description of how they are to be used, which is very helpful. He describes the way in which they're to be exercised. Look at verse eight, latter part, he who gives with liberality, he who leads with diligence, he who shows mercy with cheerfulness. Now the first of these last three gifts is the gift of giving. We could define this gift as sharing whatever you have with joy and generosity.
Seems odd that this would be a gift when we're all commended and acknowledged, in fact, given orders by the New Testament to share with those in ministry and those in need. But the truth is, God has to change all of our hearts to ever get to the point where we unclasp what we have, where we open our hands and we give. The gift of helps talks about giving our time and our energy. The gift of giving would refer specifically to the giving of financial resources. And he must change all of our hearts. Yet there is one or many among us who are empowered with a special sense, the special enabling of gifting so that they have the gift of giving. And we marvel, like the heart of a child, we all want to have God change our hearts, don't we? A young child will quickly give. They'll hear of a need in Sunday school or the youth ministry and automatically give.
You get older and you start to clutch, hoard, out of fear, a lack of faith perhaps. I remember sitting in church one Sunday years ago along with my three brothers. The offering plate was coming past and my younger brother Tim, Timmy, who was normally in children's church for some reason was there with us that Sunday morning sitting with the older boys. As soon as the offering plate reached him, he took off his clip on necktie.
You remember those? He took it off and he put it in the plate and we whispered, what in the world are you doing? And he said, he said to give our ties and offerings. I kid you not. It came past my mother.
She put the necktie in her purse. Isn't that great? The word Paul uses is a compound word, metadidoi. It implies giving with abandon.
In fact, meta can be transliterated mega. This one is gifted with mega giving and you hear the word mega and you think, well, this is the one who has the bag of gold and that's mega. Well, let me give you some observations about this gift. Number one, it is not reserved for the wealthy. Don't think that giving this gift has anything to do with your salary. It was evidenced by a group of poverty stricken Christians living in Philippi who are commended for their giving. Philippians chapter four. I found it interesting as I have researched this subject that the people who make less than between 40 and $50,000 a year give the most of their income to charitable causes than those who make more.
No one knows why that line is there. But if you exceed 50,000, you give less of your income than those who make less than that. The truth would be, I'm sure, that the more you have, the harder it would be to give away.
I mean, think about it this way. If you had $100, it would be easy to give $10 away. Not a lot of money, maybe 20. If you had $100,000, it would be a little tougher to give 10,000 or 20,000 away, wouldn't it? If you had a million dollars, would it be harder to give 100,000 or 200,000? And you say, Stephen, I'd like to test that theory, if God would allow me. Well, go ahead.
How are you doing with what you have right now? Have you found that when you get that raise, it isn't, oh, I can give more now to God, but oh, I can spend more on me? Whether we were all more like John Wesley, the leader of Methodism, who said a few hundred years ago, he wrote this, money cannot stay with me.
It would burn me if it did. I throw it out of my hands as soon as possible, lest it find its way into my heart. There's another observation. Not only is the gift of giving not reserved for the wealthy, secondly, the gift of giving is not relegated by pride. In other words, it doesn't ask for applause. It doesn't have to be recognized.
You don't have to put the name on a brick or a plaque. It just wants to give. In fact, Paul describes the gift of giving with that word.
Did you see it? Liberality. The word liberality could literally be rendered single mindedness, focus. This person that God has enabled with his gift just tends to look at life with how can I meet with my resources, those who are in need.
It just look at life like that. They often think of themselves last. And certainly there is no ulterior motive. You don't have to give them a board position. You don't have to bring them up front. They are giving unto God and this happens to be how God has empowered them.
Let me quickly go on to the third and that is this. The gift of giving is not related to an amount. It is an attitude, not an amount that distinguishes the gifted giver, the mega giver.
Paul mentions another passionate gift. Verse 8 again, he who leads or has the gift of leadership with diligence. The word translated lead could be rendered manage. It's the same word that appears in first Timothy three for the office of elder or deacon. They have to be able to manage their household and their children. In first Corinthians, Paul speaks of the same gift, but uses another word, which means to administrate or to organize. It is a word for someone in the first century who steers a ship. You could define this gifted individual this way, one who manages some task for God, providing guidance by example and dedication. One writer put it this way several generations ago as he described the gift. Think, he wrote, of the numerous works of charity, which believers had to create and maintain.
Pagan society had neither hospitals nor orphanages, free schools or rescue missions like those of our day. The church, impelled by the instinct of Christian charity, had to introduce these institutions into the world. And Christian assemblies, churches, took up these needful objects and had of course at their head leaders who were charged with the responsibility who took the work. One of the great needs in the church today is for men and women to grasp this gift of leadership. There are plenty who will bring a covered dish but not many who will organize the potluck.
Why so few? Because it means to step out in front. In fact, the word itself implies someone who steps forward, which means there's going to be a little distance between those who will follow. In other words, stepping forward is synonymous at times with standing alone.
And who would volunteer to do that? Dr. Ken Gengel, in his insightful little book entitled You and Your Spiritual Gift, gave an illustration of this text from a scene of a popular television show in the 70s. This is when he wrote the book when he also taught at Dallas Seminary. Evidently, two children, a brother and sister, ended up being left alone at home accidentally when the sitter didn't arrive and mom and dad were out having dinner. So the whole show revolved around them surviving that. The boy was around eight. His sister was around six.
Gengel says they were alone and somehow made their supper without burning the house down. And then came bedtime. The boy had taken the leadership role because he was older and decided to tuck his little sister in for the night.
He did. And as he turned out the light and prepared to leave the room, his sister called out and asked, but who will tuck you in? The boy sort of took in a deep breath as the newly appointed leader and said with shaky confidence, nobody needs to. I'm in charge.
Remember? To which his sister sighed and said, I guess that's the trouble with people in charge. They have no one to tuck them in. Well said. Maybe that's the very idea that keeps you from taking a step forward.
You know what it feels like to, in effect, tuck everybody in. Everyone has what they need. And at the end of the day, stand alone. But you are the one that God's spirit motivates to take those kinds of steps. You're like Paul, who says those bold words, follow me as I follow Christ.
Can you imagine saying that? First Corinthians, Chapter 11, verse one, the demands and challenges of leadership were unmistakably obvious as Paul reminded the Thessalonians when he wrote to them these words, for you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, but with labor and hardship, we worked in order to offer ourselves as a model for you that you might follow our example. What a role to play, to live with the sense that people are watching and following and to accept the demands of that role. This is the one who takes risks so that others can enjoy security. This is the one who labors so that others can be at rest. Where are those who will accept the hardships and the rigors of the demands and tasks of leadership? I speak perhaps to a core team who are involved in managing a task, a class, a ministry. I perhaps speak to someone who is in their heart desiring to start something and to lead it, to step forward. You will be the one, in effect, who will walk into a dark room by faith and find the light switch, and you will flip it on and then beckon others to come in.
It's safe. That's the leader you are. You're the one that senses the adventure and excitement of being the volunteer to walk across that creaky old swinging bridge to make sure the planks will hold so that others can follow along in safety. It's a little wonder that this gift is referred to in 1 Corinthians as the gift of administration. You have a sense of where things ought to be and how many things need to take place to get there. Beyond that, you are willing to pay the price to see that ministry happens.
Now, go back to the text and notice the description that Paul gives to this particular gift. He who leads with what? Diligence. Budai is the word.
You could render it zeal. Passion, again, comes out of this gift. In other words, don't be hesitant. Don't be indecisive. You are the one in front of that class, that ministry, that relief organization, that outreach.
You know the costs. You're willing to suffer the cost and pay the penalty of leadership. You will give it your heart and your soul. The church, ladies and gentlemen, is in desperate need of those who will step forward and tackle the job, manage a team, pay the price, turn on the light for the glory and cause of Christ.
Now the final piece of the puzzle. It's given in verse 8 again. He who shows mercy with cheerfulness. One Bible scholar defined this gift simply as the gift of sympathy.
Maybe that's yours. He went on to write, this is the gift that opens the heart of the sufferer. And that's a key distinction to understand. The one who's gifted with mercy does not open their heart to the sufferer. They go to the sufferer and are able to open their heart. There are misguided people who think that they have the gift of mercy and they're involved in mercy events or ministries.
But the truth is they talk about themselves all the time. They can spot the need. They can spot the place of suffering.
And yet the truth is they just want a place to talk about their needs and aches and pains. That's not this gift. This is the person who is divinely endowed with special sensitivity to suffering and sorrow. This person has the ability to notice misery and distress that may go unnoticed by the rest of us in the body, in the assembly, and they step forward to solve the needs. So this gift involves more than just spotting the need and the sufferer. This particular gift is one who puts feeling into action. Frankly, the world is surprised by mercy givers.
That's because it runs so counterculture. Our culture teaches us to look out for number one and they consider you and me to be number one. And they come in last and they love it at the end of the list. And so whenever someone shows any kindness or mercy, we're taken back a little bit. We're not sure really how to respond. Oh no, let me pay for that.
Or no, let me help you do that. And we're a little taken back that someone is helping us, right? I read in Sam Gordon's new commentary on Ephesians the other day. He sent me a copy and I was leafing through it. The story of a Texan who was shopping at Sam's Club one afternoon with his wife. He had absentmindedly left his keys in his Cadillac. When he and his wife came out of the store, sure enough, their prized sedan was gone.
No sign of it anywhere. It had obviously been stolen. He contacted the police department and they came. All he could do was fill out a report and then the police gave them a ride back home.
The next morning when he opened the curtains, he could hardly believe his eyes. His Cadillac was sitting out of the driveway. What's more, he discovered the car had been detailed inside and out.
The carpet shampooed, the exterior waxed, the wheels armor rolled. Even more than that, lying on the front seat was an envelope with a note that read, dear friends, I am so sorry for taking your car. I had a terrible emergency. Please accept my apology for any hardship. As repayment for your car, I want you and your wife to enjoy this Saturday's home game at the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Here are two seats at the 50 yard line. Again, I'm so sorry. I put you out.
Thank you so much. Can you imagine? 50 yard seats at Dallas game.
Are you with me? Well, anyhow, the article went on to say this Saturday afternoon, he and his wife enjoyed great seats and a wonderful time at the game. When they got home, they discovered the entire house was empty.
All their belongings stolen by thieves who knew where they'd be and how long. That kind of thing just makes you cynical, doesn't it? The moral of that story, by the way, would be that if somebody gives you state Carolina game tickets, give them to me, you stay home and watch your furniture.
Okay, I'll keep you safe. You know, you can get a little bit out of shape when you offer or offered something and it comes with strings attached. Maybe you have treated that waitress with mercy.
You could tell it had been a long day. And and so you were kind and it was still met with a snarl, right? You have opened up your heart. You have gone after someone to hear and to provide salve.
Maybe you've been turned away. Isn't it interesting? The Apostle Paul would specifically describe the demonstration of this gift with what word? Go back and look. He who shows mercy, show it with what? With cheerfulness.
It's as if he he picks the word that we would have most difficulty in exercising this gift toward people. Why? Because you show mercy to enough people, you're going to start to wear thin on cheerfulness. You're going to show up. I'm here to help you.
What can I do? That'll work. No, that demeanor that comes with the one with this gift. Yes, it will be a challenge. And so Paul reminds you, make sure you smile. All three of these gifts require an internal, spirit-controlled, spirit-generated passion. The one who has the gift of giving might be tempted to not do so with liberality.
Maybe they were never acknowledged or thanked and deep down they they wish someone would at least say thank you. But the Spirit gives them grace to give on. The one who has the gift of leadership might be tempted to slack up. You have paid the price, you have been out in front and it's hard.
It's difficult to plan and to organize and to lead. The Spirit moves you to step forward anyway. The one who has the gift of mercy might be tempted to do it out of duty and drudgery and okay, it is my gift, I will, but I don't know about the the cheer part of it. We might be tempted to say at the end of these gifts, well, you know, I think I will wait for our special sign. I really need one now or I'm just going to serve in a comfortable spot or I know what I'm doing and I've done it long enough and so that's where I'm going to stay.
I don't want the hassle of change. We're going to start sounding a little bit like that parable. You remember where we say things like, well, I expected somebody to do that. Anybody could do it instead of me.
Everybody seems to be letting anybody or somebody tackle the work. So I'll just watch somebody and everybody, anybody that wants to serve the Lord. May that never be the picture on this puzzle box. God is assembling.
Hey, that never represent you and me and us. Friend, I hope this lesson has been an encouragement to you today. You're listening to wisdom for the heart. The Bible teaching ministry of Stephen Davey. Today's lesson was the seventh and final in a series called divine design. It's been a look at where you fit in the body of Christ. One day, this church that you're part of will be raptured into heaven. That's just prior to a time called the great tribulation. Stephen has a free resource on the tribulation today. Visit wisdomonline.org to get your copy. Then join us back here again for more wisdom for the hearts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-22 01:19:37 / 2023-02-22 01:30:10 / 11