Using our grace gifts

Several years ago, going back to 1980, I was a new Christian, newly married and new to the Air Force. We arrived at our first duty station in Arkansas and began looking for housing and for a church. With Cheri’s parents help, we found a church to belong. It was a church plant with lots of opportunities to serve but the laborers were few.

As a new Christian with very little discipleship to this point, I heard about spiritual gifts or grace gifts along the way but didn’t understand the concept of gifts and didn’t know my gift. As a result, our pastor encouraged me to serve as the Spirit led. He said I’d eventually discover my gift and area of service. So that’s what I did.

As the church bought property and started building, I helped with painting and cleaning and eventually took responsibility for the grounds and landscaping. It didn’t take long, but I discovered this wasn’t really my gift and area of service, but I wanted the church to do well, flourish for that matter, so I helped where I could. In the midst of all that, during the last year we lived in that area, I began assisting in youth Bible study. I wasn’t the teacher, but I assisted, and I was watching and learning. However, this was a foreshadowing of what was to come for me in ministry.

After that, we went on to our next duty assignment in the Air Force. And this time, we landed in the San Antonio area. During my time at this church, my pastor called me into his office and said, “I think you need to teach a young adult class.” I thought he was wrong about this. I never saw myself teaching or leading a Bible study. I felt inadequate to teach but I told the pastor I’d follow his lead.

Needless to say, this sent me on a ministry journey. It led to teaching Bible studies, leading small groups, and eventually becoming a pastor. The moral of the story, get involved and try things and listen to what others see in you and you’ll eventually find your grace gift.

The Apostle Paul lays out three critical principles in the following passage of scripture that will help us understand and employ our grace gifts.

RO 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

First, our grace gifts are assigned by God. Just as the gift of salvation is by grace through faith, so are the spiritual gifts or grace gifts given to us by God. Isn’t God generous? In fact, all God’s gifts reflect His grace, and the fact that grace gifts exist means that they are free and cannot be earned. Both the opportunity and the ability to serve God are matters of grace. With that, it’s important to note, our efforts are not really our own and so there is no room to brag or feel superior.

Second, our grace gifts are unifying. Paul describes that we are “members one of another.” The determining factor for our ministry function in the body is our grace gift. Just like our human body has many parts but assembled together in form and function, we are diverse people with diverse grace gifts.

For example, a shoulder only works in the body in two places. It has the same form and function in both places. Likewise, your grace gift will function in unity with the other members of the church and their grace gifts. Paul explains it this way in his first letter to the church in Corinth. 1 CO 14:12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

Third, our grace gifts are given for active use. Paul clearly states, “let us use them.” Obviously, there are a diversity of gifts because the local church ministry is made up of a diversity of ministry areas. For example: worship, fellowship, discipleship, evangelism, service ministry and prayer.

Therefore, God has given each Christian a grace gift with the expectation that we’d actively use these gifts. Remember, it’s His church, His design, His ministry, and we are given a gift by the Holy Spirit to execute His ministry. All in all, our gifts must be active so that the church will be built up.

So then, how do you begin your ministry journey? Get involved and try different ways of serving and listen to what others see in you and you’ll eventually find your spiritual gift.

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene