Summary: What is Christ’s gift? Well it’s the spoils of his victory over sin and death. We know that he has all authority in heaven and on earth, he has inherited all of creation. So the measure of his gift is unlimited.
“I Am Gifted”
One of my best friends when I was growing up played hockey with me. We did everything together. Played army at construction sites, floor hockey in his huge basement, tobogganed on the hill behind his house, rode dirtbikes, went to the same school. He absolutely loved hockey, but he wasn’t that good and wasn’t really built for it. In fact one year as we got older he got cut from the team and it devastated him, but he never gave up.
He was very gifted at building things and planning, and fixing just about everything, even when he was young. He made a tree fort that almost rivalled Swiss Family Robinson. He would have made a great engineer or architect, but he wanted to play hockey. Well I talked to him about ten years ago now, and he would have been about 40. He had spent his entire adult life playing in various “professional” hockey leagues that spring up everywhere down in the states. None of them were the major farm team leagues for the NHL, just very seedy leagues that come and go every couple of years. He never would have made much more that minimum wage, but he got to play hockey. But now at 40 had very little to show for his life.
He’ll be OK, but my point is that God has gifted us in practical and spiritual ways that are unique in each individual, and he has a plan for us to identify and use these gifts, for our good and the good of others. But when we go against that, it usually doesn’t work out very well. So today I want to talk about how we are gifted.
Paul now for the second time in two chapters identifies himself as a prisoner for the Lord. And this time he urges us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling to which we were called. Let’s read Ephesians chapter 4:1-16…
What is this calling? Well I think it refers to Romans 8 where Paul says that the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And that he works all things together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son… And those he predestined he also called…
So the essence of this calling is to be conformed to the image of His son. He then points out more qualities in Ephesians 4 as we continue. Intentionally walk according to this calling with all humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
He goes on in verse 4, there is one body (one church) and one Spirit (the Holy Spirit) just as you were called to the one hope (Jesus) that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. In other words if we are walking according to our call from God, there is no dissension, only unity. But when we walk according to our own call, our own desires within the body, we start to divide and the body is broken down.
So he says all this at the start to introduce what he’s going to tell us in the rest of this passage. He starts this section with “but”, grace or “charis” which is where we get the word charisma, was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
What is Christ’s gift? Well it’s the spoils of his victory over sin and death. We know that he has all authority in heaven and on earth, he has inherited all of creation. So the measure of his gift is unlimited.
Now the text Paul borrows from in verse 8 is Psalm 68:18, which describes God as the victor coming into the city with his captives and receiving gifts or sacrifices from them. Paul here reverses that and says that when Jesus ascended on high he led a host of captives, those who are saved, and he gave gifts to us from his spoils of victory.
There’s the idea again of Jesus, by the nature of his victory, taking his own people captive as King and Lord, but also giving us gifts. They are all his and he can give them as he chooses, in the measure He chooses. We can’t choose how God gifts us, our job is to identify what He gives us and walk according to those gifts.
Now I’m just going to leave verses 9 and 10 for our purposes today, they just confirm Jesus authority. But then he goes into verse 11 talking about the fivefold gifts that are given to the church for the purpose of achieving what he mentioned at the beginning of the passage, unity and maturity. These I would argue are the most important gifts for this particular purpose as Paul even ranks them in 1 Cor 12. He does also say that all gifts are equal in importance overall for the health of the body, but for the specific purposes of equipping people to walk in a manner worthy of or according to their various other gifts, these five are essential.