God's Pleasing Will for You: Spiritual Gifts, Part 1 (Romans Sermon 93 of 120)
February 26, 2006 | Andrew Davis
I. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Well, I am really excited about this message today, next week too. We're going to spend, God willing, two weeks on spiritual gifts. And as I think about our church, I think about our needs, where we're at as a congregation, I really circle this is one of the main issues that we need to attend to. You know, I have an almost five-month-old daughter. On the 28th of this month, the last day of this month, she's going to be five months and there's nothing I can do to slow her down. She just keeps growing and growing. And she goes through these sweet little stages and we just can't hold on to them. We'd love to hold on to them, but we can't. But inside her little body, all of these systems are working: Her lungs and her circulatory system and her mind and her eyes and her... And she's just watching all the time and learning and growing, and as each part of her body does its work, she's just growing physically stronger and stronger.
And so it is with you as you sit there in the pew today. You also have physical systems that are working. You're looking at me with your eyes, your eyes are doing their specialized job. Your ears are doing their specialized job. Your mind is totally focused on the word of God, right. Absolutely focused on Romans 12:3-8 and spiritual gifts. Nod. Yes, it is. Okay, good, most of you, focused on the word of God. Your internal organs are functioning, everything is doing its part.
And this is the analogy that the apostle Paul has given us for the Body of Christ, for the Church, that we who are one have specialized purposes within the body, and that only as each part does its work does the body grow up into full maturity. You have, each one of you, that are believers in Christ, you have a function and a purpose and a role in the Body of Christ. My question to you today is: Are you fulfilling it? Are you fulfilling it?
I worry that our Church could be a "come, listen and leave" type of church. And I don't want that to be the case, because I don't think you can be healthy as a Christian if that's you. If you're not involved, if you don't have a regular pattern of spiritual gift ministry, you're not going to grow, you're not going to be healthy. And not only will you, individually, not grow. This body can't be what it needs to be.
And so we're right on schedule to discuss today one of the most important things that we need to discuss. And I say it is important because as I read the Scriptures and I focused in on the Bible and try to understand its message, I see one great warning over the Scriptures. The most valuable thing that you possess is your soul. It's the most valuable thing you possess. Therefore the greatest danger to you, the greatest danger in life is that you would lose your soul. For Jesus said, "What good would it be for a man if he would gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Or what would a man give in exchange for his soul?"
And so therefore, the salvation of your soul should be the center of your life. And if you're not a Christian, if you have not trusted in Christ, that should be your only business this morning, or any day. Until you come to the cross and you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, you have no other business, because that's the value of your soul. Nothing else matters than that you find forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.
II. The Second Greatest Tragedy: Wasting Your Life
But that's not the only danger. There's a second danger, not equal to it, because the thing that we're discussing is not of equal value, but it has to do with your life here on Earth. It has to do with your time here on Earth. And therefore, the second great danger I have in mind is that you or I would waste our lives on things that don't matter, that we would take this precious time we have on Earth and squander it on things that don't matter at all, on idols that the devil hands us in exchange for real fruitful service to Jesus Christ. And that is a grave danger because all of us are going to have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5. We're going to have to give Him an account for the things done in the body, whether good or bad. That's all of us. We have to give him an account, and therefore I don't want to stand and give Him an account of a wasted life, and neither do you.
And so therefore, you might say "Well, what do I do? How do I not waste my life? How do I not spend my time on things that don't matter?" I think that spiritual gifts is the answer. I think that God has given to each one of us a spiritual gift package, and out of that package, that array of special abilities, he's calling on us to minister. And so the call to us this week and next week, right from Romans 12:3-8, is to use our spiritual gifts.
Now, as we come to the doctrine of spiritual gifts, you might want to know why is this important? Why is this doctrine important? Well, I think, if you look at Romans 12 and see the flow of the letter as we've understood it, you're going to see in its positioning in the Bible why this is so incredibly important. We have had 11 chapters of incredible doctrine, haven't we? The description of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the deepest doctrine you can imagine, a solid foundation for all the practical advice that the apostle is about to give us concerning our lives. And he culminates all 11 chapters of this deep doctrine with this incredible doxology at the end of Chapter 11, in which he just praises and magnifies and glorifies the greatness of our incomprehensible God. And it's just worship.
And he goes from that into practicalities. Chapter 12 and following, we are looking at the practical Christian life, and he starts right away with the center of your physical life on Earth. What's it going to be? He urges us, in view of God's mercies, to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. He says that this is your spiritual act of worship. This is what worship is. Present yourself to God physically to serve him. And then he talks about the presentation of the mind, and he says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
And the next thing he talks about, friends, is spiritual gifts. The next thing he talks about is spiritual gifts. Do you see how vital this is, just in position in the letter? He goes from 11 chapters of doctrine to two verses a very intense core practicality to spiritual gifts. That's vital.
III. What Are Spiritual Gifts and Why Are They Important?
Now, the epistle began with spiritual gifts, Romans 1:11 and 12. He says, "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong. That is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." Now, I don't think the word "faith" there is... I think it's a wonderful word, but we could almost say "mutually encouraged by each other spiritual gifts as well," couldn't we? I long to give you my spiritual gift and I long for you to give me yours and we can build each other up. That's what he says. That's how he began.
But here in Romans 12, the practical application of the Gospel, he gives us spiritual gifts right after telling us to present our souls, bodies and minds and wills to God as spiritual sacrifices. Therefore you know what I get out of that? Spiritual gifts must be incredibly important, because it comes so soon after all of this doctrine.
He does the same thing in Ephesians 4. After giving us three chapters of deep doctrine, Ephesians 1, 2, and 3, some of the deepest you'll find in the New Testament, he immediately goes from there to talk about the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Says we should maintain the unity. He's talking about one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all Who is over all and through and in all. One-one-one.
But... That's a very important word. That means we're going in a different direction. "But to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." Yes, we're all one, but we each have a different function in the Body. We have different gifts according to the grace of God. And He says in Ephesians 4, "it was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service so the body of Christ could be built up. Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
That is awesome. As He gives us spiritual gifts, He says the ultimate end is that the whole worldwide body of Jesus Christ would reach its full perfection in Christ. It is God's chosen way of getting from here to there. Spiritual gifts. Incredibly important, and it says in verse 16 of chapter 4, Ephesians 4:16, "From Him," Christ, "the whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work."
You know what I get out of that? It's only as each part does its work that the Body of Christ is built up. That means that if parts of the body don't do their work, the body cannot grow like it should. Spiritual gifts are important. You get the same thing in 1 Corinthians. He sets aside in effect three chapters, 1 Corinthians 12 through 14, those three chapters, to talk about the issue of spiritual gifts. Now he's dealing there, with the Church in Corinth, with a very gifted and talented Church, what we call a gifted Church. He says, "You don't lack any spiritual gift. You folks are rich in spiritual gifts."
They had a problem, though. They were too people-centered. They were too focused on what people could do. Too man-centered, focused on following Paul or Cephas or this other individual. There were factions, and they were too enamored with human wisdom. They were too human-focused. And he deals with that problem. And they were boasting, if you can believe that. Boasting in their spiritual gifts. And that created a sense of jealousy about one gift over another, especially the very showy gifts, like miracles or prophecy or tongues. Those "sign gifts." They were really boasting. And so there was a real focus on those gifts in 1 Corinthians, especially the gift of tongues.
Now, there he lays out, in these three chapters, incredible doctrine on spiritual gifts, and he uses the same analogy that he uses here, that of the physical body. The body is incredibly complex, and I don't have the courage to go into great detail about the body, because there's too many doctors out there listening to me, and I'm going to get some of you to come and tell me what I did wrong. That's happened before, and I just don't want to go through that. Is that okay? So I'm just going to speak generally about cells that are specialized to do different things. And those of you that are better at it can, if you're Sunday school teacher, whatever, do it more detailed. You've studied; you've earned the right. I haven't.
But there's specialization in the body, and that whole concept comes so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 12. And at the center of that whole development chapter 12, 13, and 14, he gives the focus. The love chapter. And it's so easy to look at it and say, "Oh, what a beautiful piece of Christian poetry." "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love," et cetera. And it's so beautiful at weddings. Like Pachelbel's Canon and 1 Corinthians 13, they just go together. You use them at weddings. 1 Corinthians 13 was written about how we use spiritual gifts and the primacy of love, and use your gift to love and serve each other, not to boast over each other.
So think of it in terms of spiritual gifts. I want to read those first three verses that you're so familiar. Don't think "wedding" now. Think "spiritual gifts" and see if some things pop up.
"If I speak with the tongues... " Should I stress it? "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I'm only a resounding gong or clinging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy... " I'm making it easy for you. "If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
Do you see the gifts? Tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, the gift of giving. They're right there, and he says that above all of that is love. The gifts are given as a servant of love: Love for God and love for each other. And so, spiritual gifts must be vital because there's all this treatment of them in 1 Corinthians 12 through 14.
And then again in 1 Peter 4. Now, there's not an extended treatment of spiritual gifts in 1 Peter. He's writing to a suffering Church. They're going through great persecution, and in the middle of all this crucial advice he gives to these believers that are scattered throughout the world and going through great suffering, he talks about spiritual gifts, In 1 Peter 4:10, it says, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." Spiritual gifts.
And then, how about the Book of Acts? Do you see any spiritual gifts at work in the Book of Acts? Well, one could contend that that's about what the book is about. It's about the exercise of these various offices and gifts under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, by the power of the Spirit, to build the Church up numerically and in spiritual maturity. Do you just see it happening? Do you see the apostolic gifts of Peter and John and Paul? Do you see the gift of encouragement in Barnabas? Do you see the gift of servanthood in those seven men that we call the deacons? Do you see gifts in Steven and gifts in Philip and in Philip's daughters? Do you see gifts in Agabus, the prophet who used his gifts? Do you see the flowing of spiritual gifts in the Book of Acts and how God uses it to build up the bodies?
Beautiful, it's beautiful. And so therefore, Romans, Ephesians, Corinthians, Peter, Acts, we see spiritual gifts flowing through the New Testament as a vital unifying force for growth and change. It's not a minor thing. This is not some corner of theology that's not important. This is your life, this is your service, this is God's gift to you, so that you won't waste your life, but rather spend it for His glory.
IV. Definition of Spiritual Gifts
Now, what do we mean by spiritual gifts? How would I define spiritual gifts? Well, spiritual gifts are special abilities that God gives, by His Spirit, according to His wisdom, to each individual member of the Body of Christ. Differently or variously to each individual member for the purpose of building up the Body of Christ until it reaches full maturity. That's not the definition I have written down here, and I couldn't repeat it again, but get the tape or whatever. Something like this: Special abilities given by the wise plan of God. Each person gets one. There's a different arrangement for each one. The purpose is the building up of the Body of Christ. That's what spiritual gifts are.
Look at verses 6-8 in our text. It says, "We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve. If it is teaching, let him teach. If it is encouraging, let him encourage. If it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously. If it is leadership, let him govern diligently. If it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."
Corinthians adds to the list, Ephesians 4 adds the list, 1 Peter 4 adds the list. And interestingly, none of them are the same. And you know what that tells me, is that these lists are not meant to be exhaustive but rather suggestive. Not exhaustive but suggestive. So some have done a conflation of all the lists and they come up with prophecy, service, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, mercy, evangelism, pastoring, hospitality, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, distinguishing between Spirit, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues.
That is the list if you put them all together from those various places. But I think what we need to realize is these are meant to be suggestive. And I believe that Christians are given an array of them, not just one gift, but more of like a gift package, some stronger, some weaker, but this arrangement so that you can go do the works God has in mind for you to do. Is that exciting? Isn't it thrilling to know that God has thought about you specifically and given to you some gifts so that you can build up the Body of Christ.
And so we have these here in Romans 12. Prophesying, for example. One interpretation of this is literally speaking the Word of God immediately. So you can say, "Thus says the Lord," and what comes after is the Word of God directly to the people. That is a good definition of prophecy. Others, like John MacArthur and the Puritans, say that prophesying also has to do with speaking in a prophetic sense the inerrant Word of God directly, with an application force, so there's a sense of authority. They would say that that's preaching. I'm not comfortable with that, but I understand why they say that. But that's okay. The gift of prophesying.
Some would say that prophesying is still going on today; others would say it isn't. I'm not getting into that. I know some of you'll kind of say, "What about all of those sign gifts and miracles and all that?" We can talk about it later. Not this sermon, okay. We're just looking generally at spiritual gifts, but the gift of prophesying.
We also have this gift of serving, or some call it helping, finding various needs, frequently of a physical nature, finding a way you can use your resources, your time, your energy, your love, to help somebody, physically. To meet a need, help them in some way. The gift of teaching is that of understanding, interpreting, unfolding, and explaining the written Word of God, applying it effectively to the hearers.
The gift of encouragement here is, I think, just giving energy and strength to brothers and sisters so that they won't falter or grow weary in doing good, or so they won't drift into sin. Key words would be like advising, pleading, encouraging, exhorting, warning, strengthening, comforting. These things are done by a person with the gift of encouragement.
Contributing to the needs of others is the gift of giving. Financially especially, or materially, giving money and other material possessions to support brothers and sisters in their needs or in their ministries. Leadership. Some call it administration. Guiding ministries and leading them, making discerning decisions, rallying and motivating people to support the direction that God is leading the church. And then the gift of mercy, which is actively showing sympathy for someone who's going through suffering and sorrow, especially gifted to alleviate sorrow. So, those are the gifts that are listed here in Romans 12, there are others in other places.
All the gifts come by grace
And one of the things that I've noticed as I study spiritual gifts, is how often this language of grace is used. The spiritual gifts are called grace from God. Look what Paul says here in Verse 3, "For by the grace given to me, I say to everyone of you," and then he goes on. Well, what is the grace given to him? Well, you could just say it's just the grace of God etcetera, but I think he's saying, "For by my spiritual gift, I'm saying to everyone of you about your spiritual gifts, such-and-such." His spiritual gift is that of being an apostle. I think he means a spiritual gift ministry, he uses this language frequently. Look at verse 6, We have different gifts according to what? The grace given to us. Do you see that? So gifts are spiritual grace, grace from God. Spiritual gifts are grace from God. He uses this language in many places, Ephesians 3, "I became a servant of this Gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power. Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given to me to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this grace…"
He's saying, "I don't deserve this. I'm less than the least of all God's people, but God gave me a grace, and that is to preach the Gospel in this way." Ephesians 4:7, as I've already quoted, "But to each one of us grace has been given, as Christ apportioned it." The word apportioned in Ephesians 4:7 is metron, according to the measurement of Christ. So isn't it amazing to think that God thinks about you, has thought about you as an individual believer, and has measured out to you a gift of grace? Isn't that incredible? And so it's called grace. 1 Peter 4:10 says the same thing, "Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering, or as stewards of God's grace in its various forms." So spiritual gifts are grace. Now, why are they called grace?
Well, first and foremost, they're grace to us. They're grace to us to rescue us from a wasted life, they're grace to us because we feel the flow of the Spirit, like the wind in the sails, when you're using your spiritual gift. And I think it's like that, it's like I know that skilled sailors in a really well-made boat can sail almost directly in the wind and go that direction if they can create a kind of a vacuum off the sail, and they can... They can do that, but that's not the best way for them to sail. It's better to sail in a specific way, the way the wind hits the sails, and I think this is it, the spirit moves you in a certain direction and your sales are set to just really fly when you're using that spiritual gift.
Isn’t that wonderful? It's grace to you, it rescues you from a wasted life, and it feels good, it gives a sense of joy and belonging to use your gift to serve others. It's also grace from God to others through you. So it's grace to other people. You are a pipe of grace, and the grace just flows like a river through you to other people and they are blessed by you. They're encouraged by you, they're built up by you. It's just grace flowing.
Now, Paul uses this body analogy as we've talked about Romans 12, each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each member belongs to all the others. So this body analogy is not developed here, it's more developed in 1 Corinthians 12, and I love what Paul says there, he says, "The body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say 'Because I'm not a hand, I don't belong to the body,' it would not for that reason, cease to be part of the body, and if the ear should say 'because I'm not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason, cease, to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?" Now, just pause and ponder that for a moment.
Imagine your whole body were an eye. I mean just think about it. It's really kind of a shocking almost gruesome thought. And Paul says that we're not all an eye. And what you are is what God made you to be and you can't yearn to be an eye if you're not an eye. You can't yearn to be an ear if you're not an ear. In fact, God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part where would the body be? You see that? And so just to summarize the idea of the one body, many members, members have different functions, members are arranged as God wanted them to be. All members belong equally to the body, all members belong equally to each other. No member is more important than any other, and no member is useless. And as the members do their function, the body grows up to full maturity. That's what it's teaching. Now what is the significance to each one of us?
Significance for the individual and for the whole church
Well, let me say it to you directly. If you are a Christian, you have a spiritual gift package, whether you know it or not. God has entrusted it to you as something that belongs ultimately to him, he's going to want it back. Some day he's going to ask for it back with interest. If you don't have interest to show him, you have to give Him an account of why you didn't use your gifts. He's given them to you, this is what the scripture says. He has already given you a spiritual gift arrangement or package. You need to use it as a steward of God. And whether you listen carefully to this sermon or whether it changes your life or not, it doesn't matter, what matters is that some day, if you're a Christian, you will stand before Christ, and give Him an account for your spiritual gift package, what you did with it. That's how it matters to you individually. How does it matter to us as a community?
Well, I think God wants to do incredible great things through this church, I think he's going to do incredible great things through this church. I think this church is going to grow stronger and stronger in the grace of Christ, and I think he's going to do it by spiritual gifts. And as each one of you who are members of this church faithfully administer God's grace in its various forms we will grow as he intends. That's why it's important for us as a body.
V. Three key steps: Discover, Develop, Use
Now, what I want to do this week and next week for the rest of the time we have, is to give you three simple steps on what to do. You might say, "What do I do? How do I act? I sense I'm not using my spiritual gift, I sense I don't really have a pattern of ministry, I'm not really doing anything much for Christ. What do I do? I'm going to give you three big steps.
Discover, develop and use. This week discover, God willing, next week develop and use. Discover your spiritual gifts, discover what they are, discover about spiritual gifts, discover. Second, next week, develop. Spiritual gifts need development, just because you have a gift doesn't mean it's fully developed, needs to be developed. We'll talk about that next week. And use it, trade with it. Get out and get involved with it, that's what we're getting at. Let's look at the first spiritual gifts, discover. Now, how do we discover our spiritual gifts? I'm going to break this into two sections. First, what you can do for yourself second, what you can do for others. Alright, how do I discover my own spiritual gifts? Let's start with that,
Step One: Understand God Has a Plan for Your Life
Alright. Step one: Understand God has a plan for your life. Alright. Look at verse 2, "Then you'll be able to test and approve what God's will is, for you. His good, pleasing and perfect will." God has a will for your life. He has it planned out, he has good works that only you can do. Ephesians 2:10 teaches this. I believe with all my heart that spiritual gifts are at the center of God's good pleasing and perfect will for you. I think I called this sermon that. Yeah, there we go; "God's pleasing will for you, spiritual gifts". Well that must make it true, right? Well, whether that's true or not, look at the text. Look at verse 3. What is the first word of verse 3? For. Why is that important? Because it connects what follows with what precedes. Let's put it this way.
God's good, pleasing and perfect will for you for by the grace of God, and goes on to spiritual gifts. That means that God's good, pleasing, and perfect will for you has something to do with spiritual gifts. That's what the word for means to me. A lot of people come to pastors or spiritual folks and say they have questions concerning God's will for their lives, you know what they almost always have to do with? Marriage. But other than that, there's other things like what college I should attend. Alright where I should live? What I should do with my tithe money? All kinds of questions concerning God's will for my life. I was talking last night to Ron Halbrook and he said he heard Henry Blackaby speaking. Now, Henry Blackaby recently, I think it was last night even. Henry Blackaby wrote the book, Experiencing God.
The basic idea of experiencing God is that we get to know God as we get involved in what God is doing around us. Do you see how spiritual gifts fits into that? What's interesting, Henry Blackaby said, We are heading toward one of the most biblically illiterate generations in the history of the American church. And as Henry Blackaby says, he's counseling young people, and they come to him with questions about God's will for their lives, they want to know what God's will is. He said, "Well let's look at the scripture." And they seem kind of shocked. "Well, why would we do that?" They actually don't imagine that the scripture has anything to say concerning God's will for their lives. But I'm telling you that you will be able to discern God's good, pleasing and perfect will, you'll be able to test and approve it concerning spiritual gifts. "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you, don't think of yourself more highly than you ought," and he goes into spiritual gifts.
God's Word has something to say to you about spiritual gifts. Bottom line is, if you don't want to waste your life, please discover, develop, and use your spiritual gifts. I couldn't say it any more plainly. That is the center of this sermon. If you don't want to waste your life, please discover, develop and use your spiritual gifts. Secondly, present yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Understand first, God has a plan for your life, so search it out, find out what it is.
Step Two: Present Yourself as a Living Sacrifice
Number two: Present your body as a living sacrifice. We have already covered that. I don't need to say anymore. But basically, you're saying. "God here is my body, use me today to serve." Step
Step Three: Be Transformed by Renewing by Your Mind
Three: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Just saturate your mind in the word of God. Again, we had a whole sermon on that. I don't need to go into that again, but just have your mind in the word of God. But focus on this issue say "Lord I want to know what the spiritual gifts are for me. Then it says, You'll be able to test and approve what God's will is. If you're saturating your mind in the word of God, you're around godly people that are talking about ministry, they're talking about what God wants for them. You listen and you just get transformed. Alright.
Step Four: Think About Yourself Properly
Now, step four: Think about yourself. Now for some of you that's no problem, for others, maybe a little bit more of a problem. You think, "Well, that's just not Christian. We shouldn't be thinking about ourselves. We should think of others." Well, can I urge and just tell you to be honest? Don't you think about yourself, some? I'm sure you do.
The question is, Are you thinking about yourself properly? Paul actually commands you here to think about yourself. Look what he says, verse 3, "For by the grace given to me, I say to every one of you do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." So there you are, you are commanded to think about yourself.
But you are commanded to think about yourself in a certain way. Basically what you need to do is stop and say, Lord, who am I? What have you made me to be? What kind of person am I? What do I love? What do I enjoy doing? Where do I feel the wind just hitting the sail and causing my boat to move? What do I delight doing for you? Think about yourself. But think about yourself it says, With humility. Don't think about of yourself more highly than you ought. You know why? Because what's going to happen is once the wind hits the sail at just the right angle and you really start to move, you know what's going to happen? Good things. I mean really good things are going to happen. And the body of Christ is going to start responding and they're going to say, I like what you do when you do that. That is wonderful. Thank you for that. They going to encourage you.
And you know what you're going to need to do? Go back to Romans 12:3, And not think of yourself more highly than you ought. Because God's going to use you. But I also want to say from 1 Corinthians 12. Don't think of yourself more lowly than you ought either. Beause I'm not so and so, I really don't belong to the body. I don't have that full measure of all the gifts that he's got or she's got, or I don't have that gift and I wish I did, so I'm not really part of the body, I'm not really included. God could never use my little gift to do anything, don't do that either. Think of yourself it says, With sober judgment, with sober judgment.
I love what CS Lewis said about this. CS Lewis in his great book, Screwtape Letters, one of the most mischievous Christian books ever written. The whole thing is written from the perspective, an older demon teaching a younger demon how to tempt people. Isn't that incredible? So Screwtape writing to Wormwood on how to get us in trouble. So we're kind of listening in on the conversation. Oh, I see what you're doing. And that's just the way Lewis wrote it so brilliantly. But he gets to this one point talking about false humility. At one point, he says, "Have you noticed that your subject is getting humble? Please call his attention to the fact, okay, so we can pollute the virtue. The more humble he thinks he is, the less humble he'll be."
But then it just gets into talking about this issue of humility and this is what it says. "Thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe that they're ugly, and clever men trying to believe they are fools. God wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best Cathedral in the world and know it to be the best. And rejoice in the fact that it's the best, without being any more or less or otherwise glad at having done it than he would if it had been done by another." That's sober judgment, this is it, this is what I do, this is the thing but it doesn't matter that I did it, it matters that it was good and worth doing. "God wants him in the end to be so free from any bias in his own favor that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor's talents." Isn't that incredible? You just got to kinda get out of yourself and look at yourself and assess what you do and see what's really good and beneficial to the body and what isn't.
Think about yourself with sober judgment. Do it with humility and assess what God is doing. And it says, According to the measure of faith, God has given you. What do I mean by that? What I mean is not everybody's going to get the same measure of spiritual gifts. In other words, there are some that have the gift of preaching and others have more of the gift, there's some of that have the gift of giving, and others have more of the gift. God gives the amounts but just know what your gifts are, and use them.
Step Five: Serve God Constantly in Common Ways
Step five: Get busy. I mean just start doing things. Serve God constantly in the common ways that Christians are called on to serve God. Hasn't He called on all of us to be witnesses? By the way, don't ever use spiritual gifts as a dodge for your evangelistic duty, saying "I don't have the gift of evangelism, so I don't need to share the gospel with a waiter or waitress." That's just not true. We are supposed to be active and involved in witnessing but not everyone has that gift in a certain way, where they're going to spend all of their time focused on doing that. I understand that, but there are certain duties that are common in the Christian life. Witnessing is one, praying is one, exercising faith, helping others, serving others, right? Giving money, these things are common in the Christian life. Do them, do lots of them. Get involved and serve.
The illustration I used a few weeks ago when somebody asked me about spiritual gifts. When I was a child, I used to play with it, when I was a young boy, with balsa wood airplanes. Remember those 89 cent, you get them at convenient stores, they come in these long slender packs. You rip them open, pull out and there's a little thin balsa wood planes. They have a heavy nose-clip and you'd slide the thing in there, and you go and they would fly. Well, I got one once, it was a biplane and you could set the wings in all different kinds of configurations. If you set them one way they'd fly for distance and altitude, set it another way, it would bank left, or bank right, or it would do a loop to loop or a barrel roll, all depending on how you set the wings. So I could set up the wings according to the instructions of the maker, but it wasn't until I threw the thing and air started getting under the wings and it started to show its natural proclivities that I could tell what it was designed to do.
And so you have to get out and use your time wisely. Be active in lots of areas of the Christian life. Do the things that God's called on you to do. You look at the list and for the most part, these are common Christian duties aren't they? So just get out and do them, get involved, do ministries.
Step Six: Look for the Validation of the Body of Christ
And then step six: Look for the validation of the body of Christ. Look for others to say, "Hey when you do that, that is wonderful. Keep doing that. Or, you know, something, I think your gifts might lie in another area. Okay, those can be some of the most fruitful conversations, although somewhat painful. But why waste your time on something that really isn't your gift, but yes you wish it were. Alright.
So you should get out there and listen to what the body says. Step one: Understand that God has a plan for your life. Step two: Present yourself as a living sacrifice. Step three: Be transformed by renewing your mind. Step four: Think about yourself soberly and properly. Step five: Serve God constantly in common ways, and step six: Look for the validation of the body. That's what you can do for yourself. Now, what can you do for others? You might think, Well, what do I have to do for others? Much. Romans 12:3 says, You should think about yourself. Hebrews 10:24 says, You should think about others. If you look at Hebrews 10:24, it says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good deeds." That's a good translation. Of all the major English translations, only the KJV kept the proper connection between the verb and it's subject. Let us consider not how we may spur one another on... It's not a how we're considering friends, we're not considering a how, we're considering somebody with a name.
Let us consider so and so or so and so or so and so. Brother, sister in Christ, let's think about them. Take 10 minutes to pray for them and say, What is so and so spiritual gift Lord? Show me, and I'm going to go and encourage them to do something. I want to know it. I want to know what their gifts are. And you might say, "Look alright, you could do this in your small group, you'd take on each other and so you're going to pray for each other, every week one person and work on somebody, find out what their spiritual gifts are. You pray for, you help each other. You exhort one another, etcetera. Now, I've come to the conclusion. If you do that for somebody, week or two, you spend some time thinking and you come up "empty", one of two things is true. Either you don't know them very well, or they're not doing very much.
If you can't help somebody and exhort them, you either are not close enough in their lives or they're not really doing much to serve. Either way I think you have a ministry response. Get to know them, get involved in their lives, find out what they're doing and if they're not doing much for Christ exhort them to love and good deeds. Say, Let's get going at step five, level-five and just start doing some of the things of the Christian life. Get involved. And then little by little, you can exhort them to love and good deeds. This morning, we have looked at spiritual gifts for the first week. Well God willing we'll look again next week, we've talked about what they are, we've talked about special abilities that God has given, and we've looked at the first level, discovering spiritual gifts.
God willing, next week, we're going to talk about developing and using spiritual gifts, application. Well, if you're not a believer in Christ, and you are just here today because somebody invite you to church or you came in from off the street, there's one gift that I'd like to give you more than any of the others. I'd like to give you the gift of salvation through faith in Christ. I don't have the power to give it, but the gospel does. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Accept the gift of eternal life. If you've never trusted in Christ, don't leave this building without giving your life to him. Come and talk to me at the end of the service, or after the service. Say, "I want to know more about being a Christian. I want to follow Jesus. That's the gift I want. That's top priority, but second issue, if you're already a Christian, don't waste your life, find out what your spiritual gifts are. Discover them, develop them, and use them. Close with me in prayer.