Summary: Second in a series on Spiritual Gifts

“Understanding and Unwrapping God’s Gifts to You” (Part 2 of 3)

Romans 12:1-16


A few years ago, the World Press Review carried a quotation from the National Concord of Lagos, Nigeria. That paper reported that twenty-six lakes have been found beneath the Sahara desert. The American space shuttle “Columbia” determined by echoes it received that there are miles and miles of underground rivers beneath that arid land. It is sad to think of the people who are starving because those hidden resources have not yet been tapped. (#291)

What spiritual resources lie untapped in our congregation? How many are struggling when, all along, there is a hidden potential for success? And within us, as individuals, what potentially lies hidden? Are our lives arid and spiritually unproductive simply because we have not dug down deeply enough to tap the unseen reserves of spiritual power and strength that God has made available to us?

That’s what this series on God’s gifts is all about --- helping us tap the vast potential of talents and abilities God has given us.

In 17th century Italy, in the town of Cremona, lived a young boy named Antonio. Antonio was often sad because he lived in a town that was famous for its music, but he could neither sing nor play.

Antonio’s voice was high and squeaky, so he was not welcome in the Cremona Boys’ Choir. When he took violin lessons, the neighbors persuaded his parents to make him stop. Yet Antonio still wanted to make music.

Antonio’s friends kidded him because it seemed that his only talent was whittling, but he did not give up. One day the boy learned that a world-famous violinmaker named Amati lived in Cremona. The next morning Antonio went to visit Amati and begged to serve as his apprentice. For many years he studied and worked. Antonio’s knack for whittling grew into a skill of carving; his hobby became his craft. Patiently he fashioned many violins, striving to make each one better and more beautiful than the one before.

When Antonio died, he left over 1500 violins, each one bearing a label that said “Antonio Stradivarius.” Today they are the most sought after violins in all the world. The clarity of tone and careful craftsmanship remain untouched by the centuries. Today Antonio’s violins sell for more than $100,000. Antonio Stradivarius could neither sing nor play, but he did what he could, and now, over 300 years later, his violins are still making beautiful music. (#395)

Christians are sometimes concerned because they cannot sing or play or preach or teach.

However, the important thing is not where our talent lies, but whether we are using the talents we have. A song in the heart will surely find expression through some phase of the dedicated Christian’s life.

We learned last week that each of us have gifts and abilities which God has given us through His Spirit. We also learned that He expects us to use these gifts in serving one another and in continuing His work in the world.

You have a gift, perhaps several, which you should be putting to use in some area of service and ministry. We read in Ephesians 4 (11-12): “And (God) gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”

God has given us His word, through the apostles and prophets -- and provided elders, preachers, and teachers for a specific purpose -- to prepare and equip the saints to use their gifts in works of ministry. If the church is to function according to God’s intention … if the church is to be growing and serving … then every Christian must discover his or her gifts and abilities and employ them in ministry to others.

Too many Christians, both young and old, are content to sit back and let others do God’s work. Too many spell service --- “serve us.” The poet has well-described this philosophy:

“There’s a clever young fellow named Somebody Else ---

There’s nothing this fellow can’t do.

He’s busy from morning ‘til way late at night

Just substituting for you.

When asked to do this or asked to do that

So often you’re set to reply;

“Get Somebody Else, Mr. Chairman ---

He’ll do it much better than I.”

There’s so much to do in our church;

So much, and the workers are few.

And Somebody Else gets weary and worn

Just substituting for you.

So next time you’re asked to do something worthwhile

Come up with this honest reply:

“If Somebody Else can give time and support

It’s obviously true, so can I.”

This morning we are going to study Romans 12:1-8 and try to see what is involved in the various gifts mentioned there.

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