Ephesians 4:7-11 affirms each believer receives a gift for the purpose of building the church. I do not believe every gift is mentioned in Ephesians 4 but do believe every believer is gifted for the purpose of helping the church mature. All believers have a gift. (We can discuss what gifts are still in effect later, but for now, let’s assume at some level each of us have a gift: teaching, serving, evangelism . . . ). We use our gifts because we love Jesus and for the church.
In my last post I defined a servant as someone who habitually serves and loves other people. All believers are called to be a part of the church through relationships with others. Others is defined by other people IN THE CHURCH, not just family. You cannot say you live out the “one another’s” only on your spouse! Your family needs to be others driven.
This naturally raises the question, what about a person’s gift? What about the guy who says the Lord gifted him in such a way to serve the church and it requires no personal interaction? What about Bill, or is it Bob–later we discover it’s Vernon who shows up every week and sits in the same spot? He comes in, sings, nods his head in agreement, and gives a lot of money to the church, but no one knows him. Is he serving the church?
The Lord uses people like “Vernon” and blesses the ministry financially. But I have a hard time saying either one is a servant. Your spiritual gift is not an excuse to avoid relationships! Being a part of the church is simple conceptually: have and maintain relationships! Doing it is difficult because it means being exposed. You become exposed to others like they become exposed to you. Then we see the dirty, human side of people. But this is where we need to be. We need to be in a position to love and serve others while fully being aware of their dirty sinful hearts. As we learn to love and serve, despite others sinfulness, we learn what it means to be Christlike.
Every day Jesus served and loved others with full awareness of their sinfulness. He loved a traitor, two men were ready to rain fire and judgment down and kill people (Sons of Thunder), and the prideful Peter. Then He died for us! He died for us who deserve our penalty (death) so that we don’t have the penalty. But our relationship isn’t over! He serves as our High Priest, daily, hourly, moment by moment lavishing us with grace, coming to our aid, and interceding on our behalf!
So we too must serve! We must learn to develop and sustain relationships with othes regardless of our giftedness. Could you imagine a pastor who knows no one in the church and his excuse, “I am only gifted to teach”? We think it crazy! This is a “both/and” issue. You are called to exercise your gift AND be involved in other people (beyond your spouse and kids) lives!
The concept is simple. Doing it can be hard at times and rewarding too. But we do it because we love Jesus!!