Summary: Firstin a three-part series on Spiritual Gifts
“The Gifts of the Holy Spirit” (Part 1 of 3)
1 Cor 13:8-10; Romans 12:1-8
For several years American presidents have focused attention on what has been called America’s greatest wasteland: the vast potential of young men and women who, because of inadequate resources or other obstacles, are never privileged to get an education or further develop their talents.
In many slums and ghettos are young people far above average in intelligence and natural endowment, but who will grow to be a “drag” on society because they will never realize their native potential.
In recent years a sense of national guilt and repentance has led sincere political and moral leaders to advocate and establish programs whereby every young person may have the opportunity to develop his divinely granted potential.
The Biblical concept of stewardship likewise embodies this concern for the recognition of human ability, its maximum development in every individual, and then the individual’s involvement in carrying out God’s purposes.
For the church there exists also a vast wasteland of undeveloped, untapped human resource. Waste is sin, brethren, so we must address ourselves to being good stewards of our gifts, talents, and abilities.
The stewardship of our talents includes …
(1) an honest, objective effort at the evaluation of our talents;
(2) a sincere attempt at developing our basic abilities; and
(3) a willing involvement of our lives and gifts in the kingdom of God and Christ.
Today and the next two Sundays we want to consider the gifts God has given to each of us. We want to understand them, unwrap them, and then use them for His glory. As we begin to study this subject of spiritual gifts, let’s first look at …
I. THE OVERALL TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURE ON IT.
The most obvious thing, both from our own experience and from a thorough study of God’s word is that …
A. GOD HAS GIVEN EVERYONE VARIOUS TALENTS AND ABILITIES.
Paul is very emphatic about this. He says: “Each person has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” (1 Cor 7:7) “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor 12:7)
“Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.” (Rom 12:6) Peter also had a word to say about this: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet 4:10)
Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common people like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass, a book of rules;
And each must make ‘ere life is flown,
A stumbling block or a stepping stone. (#465)
What are we doing with the tools God has given us?
God has given us these gifts -- to enable us to be a blessing and a help to others. Nobody in the church is merely average. God’s Spirit is in us to provide us with gifts, talents, and abilities to serve Him. (#406) John McKay, the former coach of the U.S.C. Trojans, once said that it is not the superstars who win most football games, but average players giving their best.
In a little town in the Swiss Alps there is a monument with two figures on it. One is a cultured scientist, the author of many books. The other is a poor Swiss peasant, an alpine guide. Together they conquered a great mountain. The scientist’s name made all of the newspapers, but the monument contains both figures because the great scientist could never have made the ascent with the humble guide.
Beginning with the crude manager of Bethlehem, no message is clearer in the New Testament than this one: Christian faith is the celebration of ordinary people who come to possess a very extraordinary power. When you are asked to serve God in some capacity, don’t talk yourself out of a great opportunity by saying, “I’m too old,” or “I don’t have enough education,” or some other personal put-down.
In the play, “Green Pastures,” God asks Gabriel to recruit a leader and Gabriel asks in return, “Do you want the brainiest or do you want the holiest?”
God answers, “Get me the holiest. I’ll make him the brainiest.”
God can give you the ability. What He can’t give you is the faithfulness. That must come from within. That is why God always prefers the holiest to the brainiest. The first disciples that Jesus called were ordinary men. Each one of us are ordinary people that God has made extraordinary by giving us gifts and talents through His Spirit. He’ll take care of the ability if we’ll take care of the availability -- a willingness to serve.