Summary: Finding our nitche in Christ
Finding “My Spot”
Imagine the Master Carpenter’s tools holding a conference:
Brother Hammer presides, but several suggest he leave the meeting because he is too noisy.
Brother Hammer replies, “If I have to leave this shop, Brother Screw must go also. You have to turn him around again and again to get him to accomplish anything.”
Brother Screw speaks up. “If you wish, I’ll leave. But Brother Plane must leave, too. All his work is on the surface. His efforts have no depth.”
To this, Brother Plane responds, “Brother Rule will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right.”
Brother Rule then complains about Brother Sandpaper: “He ought to leave, too, because he’s so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way.
And so goes the discord.
In the midst of all this discussion, in walks the Carpenter of Nazareth.
He has arrived to start his day’s work.
Putting on his apron, he goes to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the gospel.
He uses Brothers Hammer, Screw, Plane, Rule, Sandpaper, and all the other tools.
After the day’s work, when the pulpit is finished, Brother Saw arises and remarks, “Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.”
B. Brothers and Sisters, I am here today to say, “Nobody is a nobody in the body of Christ!” (Say it with me.)
The Call here is, “Improving Your Serve,” finding your spot in HIS service. Most of us default to our selfish settings instead of looking for ways to put others first. Two weeks ago we focused on checking our motives, preparing for problems, putting the needs of others first, and following the example of Christ. Last week we learned that we must surrender our bodies, minds, and wills to God and have a proper estimate of ourselves before we can effectively serve.
The whole topic of spiritual gifts has been a battleground for many years, going back to the church at Corinth. This tension can result from an overemphasis on certain gifts, or it can come because we like to pick fights with those who are wired differently than we are.
Before we jump into our text in 1 Corinthians 12, let’s review the context. The Corinthian church was beset with many problems and difficulties. The church was filled with division, arguments, lawsuits, and immorality. On top of that, there was confusion about marriage, food sacrificed to idols, worship, the Lord’s Supper, the Resurrection, giving, and spiritual gifts. In particular, some people thought they were more important than others because they had some pretty spectacular gifts. When Paul wrote this letter to the church he specifically addressed these issues.
Chapter 12 gives us six directives to help us find our Spot.
1 Be Informed About Spiritual Gifts
When we come to 1 Corinthians 12-14 we see that Paul wanted to make sure that they had a proper understanding about spiritual gifts. The church at Corinth desperately needed instruction on this topic, and so do we. Notice verse
1 of chapter 12: “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.”
This is a topic that is too important for believers to be uninformed about and it’s certainly too critical to fight about. John MacArthur writes, “No local congregation will be what it should be…until it understands spiritual gifts” (“The Church,” Page 136).
Definition. Let’s begin by defining what a spiritual gift is. One of the best definitions I’ve come across is from Bruce Bugbee, founder and president of Network Ministries: “Spiritual gifts are divine abilities distributed by the Holy Spirit to every believer according to God’s design and grace for the common good of the body of Christ” (“What You Do Best in the Body of Christ,” Page 52).
Difference between spiritual gifts and natural abilities. It’s important to recognize that a spiritual gift is given by the Holy Spirit at conversion, whereas a natural talent is something we’re born with. While we must yield our talents and abilities to the Lord’s work, we must pay particular attention to unleashing our spiritual gifts for the good of the body of Christ.
Difference between spiritual gifts and the fruit of the Spirit. Both the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) and spiritual gifts are necessary for a life of servanthood, but they make different contributions.
Distinct categories. While there are many ways to categorize the gifts of the Sprit, I like the one suggested by Chuck Swindoll. He sees three gift groupings. Based on
1 Peter 4:11, there are two primary areas of distinction: speaking and serving. The third category would include the “sign gifts,”
1 Corinthians 13:8 suggests that many of these kinds of gifts will cease to function: “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”