Yesterday we considered how God gives gifts into His Church. But what does this all mean in practice? It means that ministries in the church should match the gifts given to that church. The ministries in the church today should not match the gifts that were in the church twenty years ago. If we have people gifted in working with children then we should give ourselves to such ministries. If we have people given to work with older people then we should have ministries for older people. Perhaps there are both and so both types of ministries can be operated.
Ministries Are Built Around Gifts.
Every ministry should last only so long as the LORD wants it to last. If there is no longer anyone gifted in the church to continue a ministry then does that mean God no longer wants that ministry to continue? We should be brave enough to admit that this may be the case. This is not an easy matter? We may want to hold on to ministries. But our God is interested in building His church and not preserving ministries. We should share in what He, as our living God, is doing not preserve what we want to do.
There is a sense in which ministries in a church should be continually changing. As people leave a church and others join then almost inevitably giftings will change. And as giftings change so should ministries.
It is wrong to force “round pegs into square holes”. If someone is not gifted in a ministry then they should not be forced into that ministry. Regrettably this seems to often happen when there is a desire that a ministry must be kept going at all costs.
There Are Jobs Which Need to be Done.
In the life of the church there are times when everyone just has to lend a hand to get a job done so that the life of the church can go on. Such was the case in Nehemiah’s day when there was a need for the walls of Jerusalem to be rebuilt. No doubt the priests (see v22) and the temple servants (see v26) could have insisted that wall building was not their work.
We are all working together in the church. We have diverse ministries. But we have united goals. We are working for the glory of God and the edification of His church. We are not like the Corinthians competing to see who could have the best(?), most prominent gifts. Rather we are happy to do our bit for the benefit of all. In fact 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 indicates how we need each other. The body image there indicates how each part is essential for the functioning of the other parts and the benefit of the whole. This is clearly what was happening in Nehemiah 3 when all was being done for the achieving of the goal. That goal was the building of the city walls and each was doing his/her bit.
We Have Different Gifts.
Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? (1 Cor. 12:29-30) These are questions Paul asks the Corinthians and he is expecting negative responses. Notwithstanding debates about what gifts God gives the church today we must expect that, according to the pleasure of our Master, he will give appropriate gifts to each of His people.
All Have Gifts.
The assumption of the passages referred to in Romans 12:4-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 and Ephesians 4:7-12 is that all of God’s people are each given a gift. It may be we have a “weaker” contribution to make (see 1 Cor. 12:22b), but it is still important in the Lord’s purposes for His body.
God Gives Grace.
When we have an ability to do something the natural inclination is to rely on ourselves to undertake that activity. But both in Ephesians 4 and Romans 12 there is the mention of the giving of grace (see Rom. 12:3 and Eph. 4:7). Gifts are given according to His gracious giving and they are to be operated in and through His grace. We need to rely upon Him. Whenever we are serving using our gift we should always offer prayer that we would not do this work in our own strength, but in His.
God Gives Gifts To Be Used.
Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” (Col.4:17). The Colossians were, as a church, to make sure that Archippus fulfilled the ministry God had given Him. He needed to remember that the LORD had given Him this ministry. We need to remember the LORD has given us our ministry; let us fulfil it for the glory of the LORD. Paul says concerning His ministry He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. (Col. 1:28-29).
The using of gifts in the church is a crucial part of God’s plan for this age. We must make sure that we, as a church and as individuals, take heed to what God requires of us in this realm.
Taken and adapted from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of August 2011